We all fall victim to procrastinating on things that need to get done, right? But breaking a habit of procrastinating can liberate you to live a more stress-free existence.
I was reminded of that after an epic spill on the hill that left me out of action immediately and for the foreseeable future. And although I usually stay on top of things, I had loose ends straggling and deadlines pending. One of those deadlines was this column — and print media waits for no one. So bear with me while I share a past column on procrastination that can amp up your productivity.
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is defined as ‘putting off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.” Sounds dire but before sharing the dark side of procrastination, it can in fact sometimes be a blessing. Have you ever postponed completing something and it turned out to be for the best? Perhaps the situation and factors changed, demanding a different solution. Good thing you didn’t waste your time, right?
Procrastination is a Common Paradox
However, procrastination is a real paradox. In ‘The Procrastination Equation’, author Dr. Piers Steels surveyed more than 24,000 people globally and discovered 95 percent confessed to at least ‘occasional’ procrastination. About 25 percent of those surveyed are chronic procrastinators; five times the rate in the 1970s.
Procrastination becomes a problem when it reaches a chronic state and the same survey shows that workers now typically spend a quarter of the day procrastinating.
Although sometimes considered a weakness of will, an article in INC magazine postulated that procrastination is an ‘emotion-centered coping strategy’ and suggested that if you can understand what’s demotivating you, you could then address it.
Why We Procrastinate
So recognizing when it starts, understanding why you procrastinate and taking steps to move forward are paramount to breaking the cycle.
- Procrastination can occur for reasons such as:
- Postponing in favor of doing something you’d rather be doing.
- Waiting for ‘enough’ time to tackle certain tasks.
- Fear of failure.
- Poor organizational, time management or decision making skills.
- Reacting too quickly to urgent tasks that don’t need to be handled immediately.
- The need to do it ‘perfectly’.
7 Tips To Break Through the Procrastination Barrier
Nobody likes being stuck so here are 7 tips to emerge on the other side of the procrastination barrier.
- Create a list of tasks and prioritize each action item so that you have a guide of what is most urgent.
- Use your calendar and actually schedule urgent tasks in to time blocks.
- Avoid distractions, such as emails, phone calls and social media while working on tasks.
- Taking breaks is a common procrastination tactic so avoid them to keep momentum going.
- Install apps to help overcome procrastination. These tech tools can block your access to social media while others will streamline tasks and send reminders in priority order.
- Create a reward for yourself when you complete the task.
- Use peer pressure. Ask someone to check up on you.
Take the Quiz
So are you an occasional procrastinator or is your constant dilly-dallying a more serious problem? To find out, take Dr. Steel’s survey HERE for a detailed diagnosis of your procrastination profile.
For what it’s worth, the survey reveals that I’m an Average Procrastinator. One of the telltale descriptors was that I “likely get the work done but could probably do it sooner and experience less stress.” Yes, I know!
At Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, Cathy Goddard offers business and life coaching, workshops and the popular Whistler Open Forum Speaker Series. She is founder of Lighthouse Mentor Network, a mentor program nominated for Small Business BC Awards for 5 consecutive years. Cathy writes this column for the Whistler Question newspaper.