Research shows that about 20 per cent of adults are chronic procrastinators. Despite all the proven benefits of being productive, many of us tend to put off until tomorrow what we need and even want to do today. Yet, what we don’t realise is that it’s undermining our happiness. It stresses us out and prevents us from reaching our goals in life. Studies suggest that procrastinators tend to be more stressed than people who don’t have this habit.
But why do we procrastinate? Despite knowing that they will probably be worse off after delaying their tasks, why do some people still procrastinate? Why would a married couple delay having a child? Why would a person not leave the job he hates? Why would others prefer to defer a difficult project and prioritise easier ones? It’s not that they are lazy or laid-back.
Research shows that procrastinators may actually dread failure. They may have a fear of success, an urge to be defiant, a perfectionist streak or a need to take risks. All these behaviours affect their ability to make decisions.
How about you? What triggers you to procrastinate? Check the following procrastination triggers and how you can address them.
Fear of failure
Fear of failure. We all have a bit of it. Who doesn’t want to fail? But if your fear of failure is so great that you no longer want to try new things anymore, procrastination becomes a big issue. Perhaps you hardly ever work out because you fear feeling so tired and worn out. Or you don’t apply for promotion because you fear getting rejected.
The next time you are faced with a difficult challenge, give yourself a chance to take the risk. Remember, getting something done is better than not doing anything at all. Who knows – it could take you to your dreams or unlock the door to new opportunities.
Do you thrive on the excitement of scrambling to hit deadlines? Do you prefer staying awake for two consecutive nights just to finish off a report which you could have done earlier? The habit of cramming is one of the most common triggers of procrastination. You probably think there is plenty of time to do things so you just wait until you have very little time left.
If you think you’re at your best when under pressure, prove it. Do it hours before schedule, as you always do. Then, try doing the task ahead of time. You will most likely notice that your overall routine seems a little saner and that you have more free time on your hands when you knock stuff off early.
Additional Tips to Stop Procrastination
Start your day early.
Not only can you stretch your time by waking up early. But also, you get to enjoy quiet moments and have plenty of time reflecting and planning your daily routine. Starting your day early helps you concentrate on a few big tasks as soon as you get up and get a bunch of work done that would have taken many more hours during the bustle of the day.
Go to sleep early.
You can’t wake up early if you don’t go to sleep early. You need to recharge your batteries to sustain your daily activities. Exhaustion is definitely a motivator to keep procrastinating.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Take easy on your to-do list.
Accomplishing tasks, no matter how small, gives you a higher sense of accomplishment – which in turn boosts your motivation to handle bigger tasks. Try starting with smaller tasks and reserve more of your energy on more difficult activities.
Think of an ominous task.
Think of something you really don’t want to do (.e.g. clean the attic, wash the dishes, or do the laundry). Soon you’ll find yourself doing what you really need to do because it’s better than the dreaded chore. You will also realise that even though some activities could be mundane, they are not really as bad as those chores you hate.
Set up daily reminders.
Whether it’s every 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour – set up a reminder that you should be working on something and not wasting your time. You can also set up reminders that give you motivational quotes.
Make yourself accountable.
Give yourself the full responsibility of every task you handle. This ways, you are motivating yourself to push harder and give it your best. Consider announcing your change publicly. Be vocal about it. Hit the social networks, blog, write letters, and do whatever it takes to make yourself more accountable to getting work done.
Be aware of what you are doing. Don’t get mindlessly stuck on social networks and leisure activities that distract you and prevent you from getting more work done. And don’t forget to give yourself some quiet time. We are constantly plugged in to our digital world. It can be overwhelming and stressful. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of quiet every day to refocus and be with yourself.
Let me know which tricks work best for you,