How often have you found yourself running short of time when deadlines are given? Do you often look for excuses or make up excuses just so that your teacher or professor gives you more time to complete the task given. Are you always unhappy with the work submitted because you completed the work the night before the submission date? If you’ve identified with any of these statements then you may be procrastinating like most individuals. If encouraged this habit will have a bearing on your performance, not just at school or college level but can obstruct your success in the corporate world as well. The key to overcome procrastination is by identifying if you are procrastinating; understand the reasons as to why you are postponing tasks and by putting measures in place to tackle procrastination.
Procrastination is putting off or postponing tasks needlessly due to laziness, tiredness or the nature and magnitude of the tasks to be completed. According to a renowned psychologist Professor Clarry Lay, a prominent writer on procrastination states that procrastination occurs when there’s “a temporal gap between intended behavior and enacted behavior.” Meaning that procrastination tends to occur when a significant amount of time passes between when people intend to do a task and when they actually get down to doing the task.
If you are one of the individuals mentioned earlier and wish to overcome procrastination then following these simple steps will definitely take you a long way in unlearning the habit of procrastinating.
Step 1: Identify if you are procrastinating
The first step to overcome procrastination is by identifying whether you are procrastinating. Most people know if they are procrastinating provided that they are being honest with themselves. Here are a few indicators to help you identify if you are procrastinating.
Do you engage in activities that are of low priority and given by other people?
Do spend a lot of time on social networking sites the moment you switch on the computer?
Do you tend to wait for the ‘right mood’ and the ‘right time’ to tackle the important task?
Do you fill your day with low priority tasks from your to do list?
Step 2: Understand the reasons for procrastination
There are various reasons as to why an individual resorts to procrastination. For instance either the tasks are too many or you are tired and do not wish to complete it or the task requires a lot of effort. Tasks that are overwhelming in nature or require a lot of effort tend to be more difficult to execute in time resulting in the task being put off for a later time.
Individuals that are organized usually have ‘To Do Lists’ or ‘Schedules’ created to remind them of the importance of the task and they are generally aware of the deadlines for the tasks as well. These individuals have also planned out the time required for completing the task therefore they tend not to put off important tasks. Other reasons could be that students tend to be unorganized and have trouble prioritizing their tasks or the task is usually boring and unpleasant.
Nevertheless, there have been cases where organized individuals have engaged in procrastination for reasons such as they have underestimated their abilities and concluded that they will never be able to finish the task because they think it is too tough or they don’t possess the skills and resources’ required to complete the task.
Even perfectionists engage in procrastination because they too feel that they do not possess the skills and resources’ required for completing the task. At other times they are aware that they will not be able to finish the task and so question whether they should even begin the task. These individuals generally conclude that it is better if they don’t do the task at all. Moreover, such behavior isn’t tolerated in either a classroom or in a corporate setting.
Step 3: Putting Measures in Place to Tackle Procrastination
As procrastination is a habit that is developed over a period of time, breaking it is all the more difficult. A habit is formed when a particular behavior is repeated over and over again until it is engrained into the individual. Therefore undoing what has already been learned is all the more difficult which cannot be undone overnight. Changing habits takes a considerable amount of time and effort, but once broken enables one to do things that they wouldn’t think could be possible and even makes things relatively easier in the long run.
Some useful tips are to reward oneself after completing the task with treats, for instance have a chocolate or two depending on the amount of work completed. Don’t forget to ensure that you realize how happy and relieved you feel with the completion of a task. You can even ask a friend to monitor you or you can get started on the task along with your friends. You also need to identify what the consequences are if the task isn’t completed on time, this will motivate you to do a task.
Set deadlines by which you expect the task to be completed and ensure that it is realistic and attainable. By setting time limits within which the task is to be completed it will ensure that the task will be completed in time and will give you more room to improve the quality of work submitted.
For individuals who aren’t organized here are a few tips; you can start by developing ‘schedules’ or ‘project planners’ the moment the task has been allotted to you. This will prevent you from engaging in procrastinating behavior. You can prepare a time table for multiple tasks to be completed within a short span of time. For this to succeed you need to stick to the schedule created.
Another option is to form a ‘To Do List’. Once the to do list has been formed the next thing to do is to prioritize the tasks in the order of importance based on the due date of the task, the work involved, the resources required and your command over the language. This will also help you to make a correct decision as to which task is of priority, thus limiting the possibility of confusion. It will even highlight the amount of time that you require to complete different aspects involved in the task for completion.
Those individuals who engage in a procrastinating behavior due to the unpleasantness of the task; here are a few things that you might be overlooking. The magnitude of the unpleasant task may seem a lot because you might be overestimating the unpleasantness of the task at hand. But unless and until you give it a try you will never know whether you have been overestimating the unpleasantness of the task or if it wasn’t as unpleasant as you thought at first glance.
If and when you decide to complete a task in the future following these simple steps would benefit you in the long run. As there are chances that you just might not have to follow the procrastinating behavior because you would have planned all the aspects of the tasks allotted in a way that is bound to give you the flexibility to help you maximize your potential to its best and are sure to yield good results.
As the saying goes, “Procrastinating does nothing more than add to your do list. Do it, be done with it!”
- Catherine Pulsifer