Do you find yourself frequently putting off tasks you dread? Do you often wait until right before a project is due because you “work better under pressure?”
If so, you are not alone. According to the Association for Psychological Science, 20 percent of us are chronic procrastinators. There is room for all of us to become more productive.
Why We Put Things Off
Procrastination is the gap between what we know we should be doing and our actions. When it comes to self-sabotage, procrastination is king. We know what we need to do, but for whatever reason, we put it off. The bigger the gap, the bigger the issue.
There are five basic reasons we procrastinate:
1. We don’t want to do the task that needs to be done, or doing it will upset us somehow.
2. We make our daily goals or tasks vague or weak.
3. We are easily distracted, and some of us are highly impulsive.
4. A task is either too easy or too challenging.
5. We lack motivation.
Understanding why we procrastinate is the first step in becoming more motivated to
complete the less desirable or more challenging tasks we face.
Tips for Overcoming Procrastination
With today’s fast-moving world competing for our attention, it’s more important than ever to prioritize where and how we spend our time. While we may not feel like procrastinating has any negative effects, especially when we are meeting deadlines, this is not the case.
A study on procrastination found that although individuals who procrastinate may have lower levels of stress in the short term, the quality of their work suffers.
So how do we fight off procrastination and become more productive? Here are six simple strategies that can help:
1. Just get started!
2. Don’t think too far ahead.
3. Recognize and acknowledge your delay tactic, and move on.
4. Set deadlines.
5. Be aware of what you do while you’re procrastinating.
6. Create a detailed daily action plan — a list of tasks that you will accomplish each
day — and commit to completing it.
Reasons We Want to Complete Important Tasks
Wouldn’t you agree that there are only two basic reasons for doing anything?
1. We take an action because it is inherently pleasurable. If this is the case, we most likely won’t need any other motivation.
2. We want a positive outcome that will result from completing a task. This could be short- or long-term in nature. A simple example might be to obtain enough referrals and networking leads each week. A short-term benefit is that you can avoid having to ever make cold calls again and thus spend less time on the phone and more time in front of potential clients. A long-term goal is to build a successful practice on client or network-based referrals, which will replenish itself based on its very nature.