Procrastination: To do or not to do
If you look up “procrastinate” in the dictionary you will be presented with the following definition;
verb (used without object), procrastinated, procrastinating.
to defer action; delay:
to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.
verb (used with object), procrastinated, procrastinating.
to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.
When we procrastinate we put things off that should be done, often spending so much time thinking about doing something that we never actually get around to doing the thing we are procrastinating about. This could result in opportunities being lost, wasted time, unfinished plans or goals, anxiety or stress about the task we are putting off.
Speaking from experience, if there is something I need to get done but keep putting off, no matter how much I try to forget about it, the delayed task is always simmering, preventing me from being able to relax or fully concentrate on anything else, which compromises everything else I have to do.
Take this blog post for example; I have been procrastinating for the last two hours about what to write today without actually doing it, putting it off by doing other things that didn’t really need to be done. For example, I’m in the process of baking a loaf, I didn’t need to do that but I thought I may as well ‘procrastibake’ while I procrastinate!
There are many reasons why we put off doing things; it may be an unpleasant task, it might be the easier option to not do it, we may not know how to do it, we may be anxious or scared, we may lack the confidence, we may be scared of the rejection or even the success that completing the task may bring. But more often than not, once the task is complete, we wonder what all the fuss and worry was about.
From my personal experience, the most common reason to procrastinate is worrying what people may think, questioning whether I am good enough to complete the task. If this sounds familiar, then try and think of it this way; if you are putting an importance and an expectation on someone else’s reaction or perception to something you haven’t done or said yet, then you are inventing a fake future. Try and change your mind set, if you’re going to invent the outcome then you may as well invent the outcome to be positive. This may give you the courage to just go ahead and do it….whatever “it” may be.
That’s not to say the outcome will always be positive, but life isn’t always positive and sometimes we have to do things that aren’t nice but are necessary and, while it may be hard at times, it allows us to grow and develop as people and putting these things off is not healthy for anyone.
How to stop procrastinating:
- Make a ‘to-do’ list with the hardest tasks at the top. Once the hard tasks are done – these hard tasks often turn out to not be hard at all – the sense of relief and accomplishment will make you feel good to enjoy the rest of the day.
- Focus on how you feel after you’ve accomplished a task, this feel good feeling will often motivate you to just do it.
- If it is a big task, break it down in to smaller tasks and just complete one portion of it today.
- Ask for help if you need it.
- Make yourself accountable if you don’t do it. That is what we have done with this blog, we have committed to one post a day for the whole year, and we are now accountable for it so the motivation to do it is much greater.
From my own experience, making a ‘to-do’ is the best thing for me with the hardest tasks first. For example this blog post, I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and am not allowing myself to do so until this post is done. I’ve had porridge oats soaking for two hours now just waiting to be heated up but if I give in and eat them before doing this then I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them as much as I am going to when this is finished, and boy am I going to enjoy them.
Finally, instead of procrastinating over which of the above tips to stop procrastinating to follow, make that phone call, go for that run, send that email, finish that assignment or whatever it may be , just go ahead and do it, most of the time it’s that simple.
This blog is about giving you one thing you can do during any given day, the one thing you can do today is the one thing you’ve been putting off.
As the saying goes, “it’s better to regret something you have done rather something you haven’t done”.