What to Do about Procrastination
If we are able to admit that our procrastination is not the basic “problem” but rather an attempted “cure” for fears, self-doubts, and dislike of work, we are able to uncover the real problems – underlying fears, attitudes and irrational ideas – which lead to the procrastination.
There are 2 different types of Procrastinators – which one are you?
For Anxious Procrastinators:
- Examine your fear of failing. Understanding that your self worth is not determined by the outcome of the task at hand reduces the pressure;
- Avoid the tendency to live in the future. Stop telling yourself “it will be wonderful when I am a doctor… a millionaire… become CEO… win the premiership…” Start living your life in the moment.
- Turn worries and self-doubts into assets by asking “What is the worst possible outcome?”, “What would I do if the worst happened?, “What strengths and skills do I have that would help me cope?” and “What alternative plans could I develop for having a good life?”. This kind of planning helps us face the inevitable risks that lie ahead for all of us.
- Use positive self-talk. Tell yourself: “I am perfect regardless of my results.”
- Set realistic goals. Recognise that achieving your targets builds self-esteem, and reward yourself for achieving your objectives.
- Keep a record of your avoidance of important tasks. Ask yourself: what excuses did I make? What thoughts and feelings did I have? What did I do instead of work? How did I feel about avoiding the work in the long-run?
For Relaxed Procrastinators
- If you are a relaxed, fun-loving procrastinator, you need to see clearly how pleasure seeking may, in the long run, lead to unhappiness, rather than to your ideal life. Procrastination occurs because we are able to fool ourselves into believing it is okay to have fun now and put off our work.
- Eventually, the procrastinator can face the facts, namely, that in most situations a take-it-easy, live-for-today, let’s-have-fun philosophy will usually not get him/her what he/she wants out of life. If you are a relaxed procrastinator, you need to reject “the future will take care of itself” mantra and adopt responsibility for your future.
In summary, what can the pleasure-seeking procrastinator do?
- Identify your own goals, strengths and weaknesses, values and priorities. Ensure your goals are realistic and your priorities relevant;
- Stop turning little inconvenient mole hills (like having to do something unpleasant) into giant mountains;
- Distinguish between activities which dramatise your sense of commitment and those which will help you accomplish the task. Devote only that amount of time which is appropriate for each part of a task;
- Make honest decisions about your work. If you wish to spend only a minimal amount of effort or time on a particular task, admit it. Weigh the consequences of various amounts of investment in a project and find the optimal return for your investment;
- Be aware of cop-outs by which we deny the need to work right now;
- Make detailed, realistic plans for achieving your long-range goals. Work to acquire an adequate understanding of what is necessary to accomplish a task within a given time frame;
- Discipline yourself to use time wisely – set priorities; and
- Reward yourself after you complete a task. Motivate yourself to achieve by focusing on success, not on failure.