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procrastination

Nip procrastination in the bud

It’s 7:50 am, and the clock is ticking away. You have to leave at 8, but you’ve not even showered yet? You’re running around trying to quickly get ready, all along kicking yourself for wasting so much time watching those kitten videos on a loop.

Such scenarios, where we leave everything until the last minute are quite frequent in our lives. Just look at the referendum on EU membership, where thousands of British citizens flocked to register themselves on the final day when they had months to do so—causing the site to crash.

Even for mundane chores, we delay until they become a necessity. Whether it is reading a book, finishing laundry, visiting a dentist, or learning to play an instrument, somehow, we are always surrounded by unfinished tasks. Pushing everything to tomorrow or hopefully soon is usually what we all do. We have gotten into a lifelong relationship with what should have been our enemy—procrastination. And ironically, we have been procrastinating this fight with procrastination for too long.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone!

Many of us are trapped in the vicious cycle of procrastination. We postpone something important, hurriedly finish it at the last moment, promise to never let it happen again, and repeat. According to eminent researcher and speaker, Piers Steel, about 95 percent of us are victims of this “self-regulatory failure” to some degree. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving ahead in life and achieving our goals.

The first step to fight procrastination is to accept you’re doing it. If you’re honest with yourself, you will know when you’re procrastinating, and understanding the reasons behind it can help you stop it in its tracks. Be mindful and aware of what you’re doing when procrastinating. This simple activity will help you refocus, align your priorities, and improve productivity immediately.

But, the main question is, why do we procrastinate?

In this article, Soulveda looks at why procrastination happens and explores strategies for managing and prioritising your workload more effectively.

Self-doubt is one of the biggest reasons why people tend to not pursue their interests or complete the tasks at hand.


Idling away

At times, loafing is what leads to that mountain of undone tasks. We spend our time watching TV or scrolling through different social media platforms, wasting precious hours carelessly. Meanwhile, the task at hand gets delayed indefinitely.

Here is a trick. Why don’t you use the carrot and stick approach? Promise yourself a reward for every task completed and soon enough you’ll find yourself looking forward to completing the tasks you once pushed away.

Uninteresting tasks

Some activities just don’t seem appealing. If the nature of the task is difficult, boring or unpleasant it becomes easy for us to postpone it. Be it going to the gym, making powerpoint presentations for work, cutting vegetables, or buying groceries. However mundane the activity, there is always a way to make things interesting. Once something turns interesting it is easier to deal with.

Why not put on some music, turn it into a game, find someone to accompany you, or get a friendly competitor.

Impractical goals

Sometimes, we set ourselves unrealistic and vague goals. Resolving to “get fit” and “read books” are vague goals, which make them easy to procrastinate. When the target looks unreachable, dropping it midway is an impulse.

Why not break the goal down into achievable tasks? A goal such as “go to the gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday” is more concrete, so is “read one chapter every night before bed”. Such an approach is more likely to lead you to take action.

Self-doubt

Often, people procrastinate because they fear negative feedback, judgement, and failure. Self-doubt arises from fear of failure. For instance, someone might delay publishing a poem they’ve diligently worked on, all because they’re worried about what others might think or say about it.

Self-doubt is one of the biggest reasons why people tend to not pursue their interests or complete the tasks at hand. We’d rather put off the job than fail at it. When we procrastinate, the fear becomes monumental and a rather simple task seems humongous.

Stand up to your fear and get right down to it. Think of it this way, what’s the worst that can happen?

Excessive “preparation”

We all wish for perfection in all tasks we undertake, but in order to achieve perfection at times, we indulge in excessive preparation. Getting stuck on one task, taking too long to finish it, leaving the other activities hanging leads to a delay in everything. Rereading the mails, rewriting the poem, or simply postponing something to a later date because you think it can still be better. Worrying too much, doubting yourself, and revisiting the same task repeatedly can lead to demotivation and undue stress.

Don’t forget, perfection is subjective, so trust your abilities, stop questioning each move, set a standard and stick to it. Don’t nitpick. Trust yourself, you’re fine.

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