Why we procrastinate!
Today is “Take Your Children To Work Day” and we are super excited that Zak Cumming decided to come and join us in our workplace today. We tasked him with writing a blog for us, and he rose to the challenge! Check out his thoughts on procrastination…way to go Zak!
Whether we’re putting off a trip to the doctor, cleaning out our closets, or deciding what career paths to pursue, procrastination is something that almost every single person has experienced at some point in their lives. But why do we put things off? Why do we wait until the last minute when it comes to important things? I’ve found that there are many reasons people tend towards procrastination—some more relatable than others.
Here are six of those common culprits:
Is it because we don’t know how to get started?
Maybe you have a big project to do, and it’s not going well. Maybe you’re procrastinating because of fear of failure, or because the task seems impossible and overwhelming. But maybe it’s not just laziness: maybe there’s another reason why we procrastinate on work that needs to get done.
It could be because we don’t know where to begin—that we don’t know how big our task is, or what resources are available. We may also be struggling with ambiguity about our goals and priorities, which makes us feel like there’s no way out of our situation except to push away from the table (or computer) altogether.
Do we not feel like doing what’s required?
If you’re like me, sometimes the work that needs to get done just doesn’t seem worth it. It seems overwhelming and difficult. It feels like too much work for the reward that comes from doing it. The task of writing a paper, for example, can seem impossible when I’m in my procrastination mindset—how am I going to come up with an idea? What am I going to write about? This essay is due tomorrow!
But this kind of thinking will only get you so far; eventually you have to buckle down and start working if you want any chance at succeeding with your project.
Does the task seem too overwhelming?
Does the task seem too overwhelming? If so, break it down into smaller parts. If you’re working on a project, try to take it one step at a time. If you’re working on a big assignment, try to break it down into smaller tasks.
This can help you feel more in control and less stressed.
There are too many distractions.
The problem with distraction is that it’s hard to focus when there are so many distractions. But if you know how to deal with distractions, then you can get your work done faster and more efficiently.
The best ways to deal with distractions are:
- Turn off all notifications on your phone and computer (except the ones that are really important)
- Don’t check social media, emails or blogs until after you’ve finished the task at hand
- Turn off your internet connection while working if it’ll help!
- Set yourself a timer (turning off your internet connection can be helpful here too).
- Try working in one-hour chunks of time (so, if you have to do something that takes two hours, break it up into two one-hour sessions).
We’re not clear about our goals and priorities.
If you’re not clear about your goals and priorities, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. You may find yourself drifting off into other activities or letting time pass without accomplishing anything. Your lack of focus may just be a symptom of a larger problem: You aren’t sure what you want.
If you know what your goal is, though, it becomes much easier to prioritize it over other things and stay focused on achieving it without getting distracted by other things that seem more important in the moment but are actually less important in the long run.
By knowing your goals and priorities, you can build a strong foundation for effective time management. You won’t be so easily distracted by the many things vying for your attention.
Is it because we’re waiting for the right conditions
Some procrastinators are waiting for the right time, or the right person, or the right mood. They may be waiting for resources (like money), environment (like peace and quiet), opportunity (like a free day off) and/or clarity about what they’re trying to accomplish.
Others may be waiting for motivation—the feeling that you really want something and will do everything in your power to get it done! If this is the case, try finding ways in which you can show yourself that it’s worth giving up some of your leisure time now so that you will benefit from it later. For example: “I’m going to stop watching TV at 8 pm every night so I can spend more time with my husband.” Or: “I’m going to stop playing video games because I don’t have time anymore.” Or: “I’m not going out tonight because I need more rest before my big presentation tomorrow morning.”
The most important thing is to realize that there are only so many hours in the day and you need to make good use of them!
If you’re waiting for the right time or the right person to do something, realize that they may never come. You’ll just have to make it happen! If you’re waiting for resources (like money), see if there are ways in which you can get them now—even if they aren’t ideal. For example: “I’m going to stop buying lunch at work so I can save up for a vacation next year.” Or: “I’m going to stop eating out so much because it’s expensive and I need more cash.”
It can be hard to find the motivation to get started on a task when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If you find yourself procrastinating, try taking some time to reflect on why you’re doing it in the first place. Then, identify ways that you can avoid these feelings in the future so they don’t interfere with your productivity again!
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