“I’ll do it later”, “There’s still time, I’ll do something else in the meantime”, “The deadline isn’t soon, I’d better rest and gain strength now, and then I’ll do it all!”. — If you’re saying these phrases more frequently, you may be getting sucked into the swamp of procrastination.
Procrastination is not laziness (as many people think) but a completely different mental mechanism. Being lazy to do something, a person puts things off and doesn’t feel remorse. Procrastination is a painful state when a person cannot start doing something, while he is pressed by anxiety and guilt.
A lazy person, unlike a procrastinator, never asks the question, “How do I stop putting things off until tomorrow?”
The good news is that you aren’t alone. Everyone puts things off sometimes — it’s normal. Everyone’s reasons for procrastination are different, but it’s possible to cope with the constant desire to get things done before a burning deadline. Let’s figure out together why we put things off, and how to stop procrastinating and start acting.
Why We Put Things Off
Sometimes when the task is big and not very pleasant, but you go and do it. And sometimes, on the contrary, the task is trifling, you don’t have much time and energy to do it, but somehow you can’t cross it off your task list. To overcome procrastination, you should first determine why it has caught up with you in the first place. Here are the most common causes of procrastination:
Fatigue, lack of rest, or trouble sleeping. Sometimes because of the desire to earn more money or trying to get as much done as possible in time, we forget that rest is also an important part of life. Without quality rest and sleep, efficiency and focus decrease, so at some point, you may simply not have the physical energy left to do anything. In this case, an easy way to stop putting things off is to give yourself a chance to exhale: go on vacation, delegate some tasks, specifically schedule time off, and work on the quality of your sleep.
Burnout. It doesn’t matter what burnout is related to — work or some role, such as a parent. Emotional exhaustion is no easier than physical exhaustion and is usually followed by a loss of motivation and energy.
Perfectionism. “All or nothing” is the motto of the perfectionist procrastinators. Until a perfectionist is 100% sure that he or she will handle a task perfectly, he or she won’t touch it. No such confidence? Well, then the task will hang in the backlog forever.
Lack of value to self. This is what happens when we don’t see the meaning in what we are doing. Or we doubt that the task will serve any important purpose in the long run. For example, mom tells her teenager to make the bed, and he thinks it’s complete nonsense — right now he doesn’t care what the sleeping space looks like.
Misjudgment of time. “Wow, what a big task, yes it will take at least two weeks” is a phrase to turn on procrastination. Rarely does anyone have the opportunity to do only one thing, so sometimes the option to put off a task for later seems right. Except that “later” never comes. And the task may only look large, but in fact, it can be handled quickly, entering the state of flow. The opposite situation happens, though: the task seems to be easy, and it’s consciously left until the deadline. But this is even more dangerous — if you incorrectly estimate the time of task fulfillment, you may simply not have time.
Lack of motivation. The motivation to do a task is the inner spark that makes a person light up on a new endeavor and achieve a goal. It’s great when a task generates enthusiasm, but more often it’s the other way around. The reasons for lack of motivation can range from physiological to psychological.
Problems with concentration. How to stop putting things off for tomorrow, when there are so many interesting things around us? Social media and videos on YouTube beckon to distract from the task. Sometimes even activities like playing at a live casino online, where we also have to think a lot, can interrupt us from our duties.
Fears. Often a person doesn’t realize that behind procrastination is some deep-seated fear. By the way, there are many of them — fear of failure, fear of being rejected, fear of success, and others. Let’s dwell on the fears in more detail.
How to Stop Putting Things Off Because of Fear
At home, you can use a simple technique of questioning your fear. First, articulate what you are afraid of right now — give your fear a name. Then ask one question at a time:
What will happen if I do this? → Why am I afraid of this? → What are the chances of this happening? → What is a good thing that could happen?
Such an exercise helps lower the degree of anxiety, think about your fear in a detached way, and see the hidden benefits.
Mistakes in the Fight Against Procrastination
Looking for an Easy Way to Stop Putting Things Off for Later
Let’s be honest: there is no magic pill. If you are a procrastinator with a long history, a phrase like “You’ll do fine!” isn’t enough to rake up a pile of postponed tasks. Take it as a given that your main task now is to reorganize your lifestyle: start planning your duties and strengthen your discipline. For example, form new habits and stop being distracted by social media or friend chats.
Grabbing on to Everything
Okay, you’ve decided to work on yourself, but you shouldn’t rush headlong into it. First, figure out why the task has been on your backlog for a long time and check if it’s still relevant (or maybe you can cross it off your list without hesitation). And prioritize — start with the most urgent and important.
Falling Into an Endless Search for Motivation
Procrastination is a “disease” that will not go away on its own. And it’s important to realize that you can wait for the right moment and mood for a long time — this is also procrastination. Therefore, remember about self-discipline and willpower. Planning techniques and useful tools like electronic planners help develop them.
How to Choose a Planning Technique
Sometimes you look at the list of things to do and just let your hands fall: this task is cumbersome, for this one, you need to study a lot of new information beforehand, and that one seems to be small, but not urgent. They just lie there quietly because you don’t understand how to approach them.
If you don’t write down the tasks and just keep them in your head, it gets even worse: the Zeigarnik effect is activated. It’s the tendency to constantly scroll in your mind cases that need to be done. Moreover, it does not affect the speed of fulfillment, rather the opposite. The constant pressure affects the nerves and eats up resources.
To take control of your duties and defeat procrastination, choose a planning technique that suits you — there are many of them. For example, the elephant method works well for bulky tasks. Its essence is to break down a big task into many small parts — so it’s easier for your brain to decide to get started.
The Swiss cheese method is a bit like the elephant method, but it looks more attractive: in this case, you should start doing a big task with the simplest and most pleasant pieces.
If there are a lot of things to do and it’s not clear what to tackle, take a closer look at the 1-3-5 system. Thanks to it, you can easily prioritize and make a comfortable schedule for the day.
There are a lot of planning techniques, so it’s better to learn about them first and then try them out without putting them off until tomorrow. If you don’t like it, take the next one and experiment further. In any case, this way you will add systematicity to your life and make your task list more visual.