Have you ever deliberately delayed an important work and focused on other tasks? Do you feel guilty about pushing your work to the last minute? Well, if this relaxes you, you are not alone in this. Delaying a task is often quoted as “laziness” in Indian households and we grew up to believe it. But, the actual term for delaying a particular task deliberately is known as “Procrastination”. To clear up the confusion on laziness and procrastination, let us take an example.
I sat down to complete this article at 4 p.m. but ended up starting the work at 7 p.m. Now, was I lazy or procrastinating in this situation. How will one know?
Laziness: If I would have wasted the three hours just lying on the couch, daydreaming, or scrolling Instagram. I’m a lazy person.
Procrastination: If I would have got other work done in the meantime for 3 hrs, it would mean I was “procrastinating.”
In my case, in those 3 hours, I made myself a coffee to be productive, replied to my emails, read a bit for a task I was supposed to do tomorrow, and made an outline for it. So, I was procrastinating all the time and just could not get myself to complete this article but did everything else. In more clear terms, procrastination is the act of delaying a task that must be done, just because one finds it boring and works on other stuff just to push it.
Now that we know what it is, why do we actually procrastinate or who procrastinates? Studies reveal we procrastinate because
- Fear of failure
- People who find the task unpleasant and boring.
- People with little self-control
- Lack of motivation
- If there is time for the deadline
Repeated procrastination can sometimes lead to severe situations like a job loss or decline in grades. Procrastination can also increase a person’s anxiety, stress, and poor performance. However, there are ways through which we can overcome this. Some of the simple yet effective ways are:
- Overcome the fear: Fear is one of the main reasons for procrastination. People fear failure or making mistakes. It is important to overcome fear by understanding that it is not important to be perfect but to give your best.
- Make a to-do list: Draft a list of important things, your tasks, and their deadlines alongside. Mark what needs to be done that day or immediately. Get them done deadline-wise or by list according to their time consumption.
- Just Start: This is one of the most underrated steps. Rather than procrastinating, leave the guilt beside and just start the work.
- Eliminate Distractions: It is almost as important to do a task with distractions all around you. Hence, sit in a quiet room, keep your phone away, don’t turn on the music. Just focus on the task you need to do.
- Focus on one thing at a time: After eliminating all the distractions and starting the task, keeping 2-3 tabs of different tasks open or working on them simultaneously will get nothing done. Rather, focus on one important and time-consuming task at once.
- Set short time intervals: It is highly impossible at the start to just complete the whole task all at once, which takes hours of time. Instead, set a short time span of 30 minutes and do it with concentration. Take a break after that and start it again.
- Set your own deadlines: Every task will have a deadline but instead of that, set your own deadline a little earlier than the actual one. This will help you get rid of the last-minute hassle and give room for improvements.
- Reward yourself: Most of the tasks you often give a result after a long time or you will be rewarded later. This is also one main reason for lack of motivation that results in procrastination. Hence, try to reward yourself after meeting the deadlines you set. They can be as small as chocolates, drinks, or watching something for longer than your daily time. But remember to be true to yourself doing this.
The above points are almost a step-by-step process guide that will help you stop procrastinating. Procrastination is not something you can avoid completely, but you can strive to overcome it. Implementing these steps or any other and succeeding will not happen overnight. Leave your previous guilt for failing behind and have patience, work hard, be true to yourself and you will arise from the trouble of procrastinating.