You may have encountered this situation at school or work: you have something important to do, but you don’t get it done right away. Instead of finishing a project, you do something else like watching videos on TikTok. Or, instead of cleaning the house, you heeded the bed’s call to lie down.
Then what happened next? One deadline piled up after another, and you ended up cramming. Or you ended up looking harassed in front of your guests because you decided to clean your house at the last minute.
Procrastination is about instant gratification, where putting off important tasks gives you momentary happiness. Procrastination is a trap that anyone can easily fall into. Do you procrastinate? You’re not alone.
If you think this terrible habit is hindering you from becoming the successful person you should be, stop making excuses and stop procrastinating. This article is all about procrastination and how to put an end to it.
Procrastination is the habit of delaying important tasks to do less important but enjoyable things.
Procrastination and laziness are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re different from each other. If you’re procrastinating, you just delay doing the task. With laziness, you don’t have the willingness to do the task at all. If you come to think of it, laziness is worse than procrastination.
If you procrastinate, you restrict yourself from reaching your highest potential. It can hinder you from being a great student or being successful in your career.
Procrastinating every day can also annoy the people around you. Who wants to be around someone who spends most of their time goofing around? No one.
It can affect your performance at work, lead to a poor performance evaluation, and may lead to job loss. That’s why it’s crucial to take steps to prevent procrastination.
The first step to overcoming procrastination is to know the reason behind your actions. As you identify the reason behind your habit of putting things off for later, you can come up with measures on how to deal with it.
Have you asked yourself why you procrastinate? There are many reasons why a person procrastinates, such as shame, fear, guilt, or vulnerability. If you don’t find the reason behind this habit or tendency of yours, then you will have a hard time uprooting it.
1. The Task May Not Be Challenging Enough or At All
If you have mastered a task or project, then it does not challenge you anymore. That’s why you put off the task. You tend to tell yourself, “It’s an easy task. I can finish it fast later.” Then you end up cramming at the last minute, affecting the quality of your work.
2. You’re Looking for Instant Gratification
Who doesn’t like to be instantly gratified? Watching funny cat videos on YouTube, scrolling through social media feeds, and playing a video game are more fun than doing a dreaded task. It’s human nature, but it’s also keeping you from doing what you should be doing.
3. You’re Afraid of Change
Procrastination keeps you from reaching success, and success means change. Procrastinators fear change because they are afraid to get out of their comfort zones. Are you afraid of change? See if this is the reason why you’re not taking action.
4. You Fear Failure
Some people fear failure, which often stops them from achieving their goals. The fear of failure is also one of the leading causes of poor academic performance.
This may come from childhood experiences or traumatic situations from the past. Ask yourself if you are afraid of being humiliated if you don’t do well in a task. Are you afraid to take the risk for this reason?
5. You’re Suffering from Depression or Mental Health Decline
Putting off tasks, low energy, or poor concentration may be a sign of depression, which could be why you’re procrastinating. Have you checked in with a mental health professional about this? Depression may be the reason why you’re procrastinating.
6. You Have Too Many Distractions
Are there too many distractions in your workstation? Or is it too noisy at work that you can’t concentrate? Maybe working at home with many distractions causes you to procrastinate? Identify and eliminate what distracts you so you can accomplish the tasks at hand.
As soon as you figure out why you’re slacking off on important tasks, it’s time to do something about it. Here are some steps you can follow right now to overcome procrastination.
Get rid of all potential distractions so you can concentrate well on your work. Do you spend too much time on Instagram or Facebook? Then put your phone away.
You can’t work well because of your kids making too much noise? Set boundaries and designate a workspace at home.
Can’t you study well in your room? Perhaps you need a change of environment or personal space.
Free yourself of distractions so you can start on your projects right away. All problems have solutions. You just have to take the right step to focus intensely on what you’re doing.
In the exercise industry, there’s high-intensity interval training (HIIT). There’s a period of high-intensity exercises for a period of time and rest in between. You can do this as well when trying to finish a project.
It’s called the Promodoro Technique. It is a time management method that breaks down work into time intervals.
You can set a timer for 25 minutes, work with full focus, no distractions, and no slacking off. Reward yourself and take a break for 10 minutes in between (also track your break with a timer), then repeat the cycle again.
Some people find this technique to be very effective when studying or working. Plus, the 10-minute breaks ensure you won’t easily get burned out or drained.
Different working environments may have a different impact on your productivity. Look at your chair, table, any clutter, work PC, or the room you work in. Is it a conducive work environment? Maybe you’re having back pains because of your chair. Or you can’t extend your feet very well.
These may be the reasons why you’re procrastinating with your work. If this is the case, then you should consider changing your work environment.
Create an organized work environment that makes you want to work hard, improves your mood, and makes you comfortable even when working for long hours. Make sure your workspace is well-lit, free of clutter, and clean so you can focus well on your projects.
An important piece of advice to follow to avoid procrastination is to organize your schedule. Plan out your to-do list for the month, week, and daily. Map out your deadlines and things to do, and prioritize the tasks that are urgent.
To avoid procrastinating, schedule your time accordingly. Make sure it’s realistic, and it won’t tire you out. For example, if you know you can’t finish the project in one day, then map out your plan on a realistic time to finish it so that you can plan out other tasks accordingly.
For instance, if you know you can’t work in the morning because you can’t focus well, then schedule working on your most demanding task at the time your mental performance is at its peak.
Write down your deadlines for important tasks. Let’s say you have a project due tomorrow. Of course, you have to prioritize that over a project due next week.
Do not spend your time on a task that is not due soon. Complete what needs to be prioritized first.
Writing and posting a list on your desk can make you highly effective at work. For instance, write in your personal journal or planner what you should do in the morning, after lunch, or in the afternoon with specific hours.
- 7 – 8 AM | Prepare breakfast and eat
- 8 – 9 AM | Take kids to school
- 9 – 10 AM | Clean the house
- 10 – 11 AM | Do task #1
- 11 – 12 AM | Prepare lunch and eat
- And so on
Writing down a schedule helps you avoid procrastination and can help you be more organized.
Yes, it’s hard to stay away from distractions, especially when you’re working alone. If you think partnering up with a friend or co-worker would help you be more focused, then do it. Ask your friends, family members, or colleagues to keep track so you won’t waste your time procrastinating.
You can even have a reward-punishment type of work habit to keep you challenged to reach your goals. Having someone else look over your shoulder can make you become more conscious of your actions.
Have you tried the above-mentioned tips and still find yourself procrastinating? Perhaps you’re too tired to work or emotionally exhausted? There must be other reasons why you’re feeling this way.
The best thing you can do is talk to a mental health professional. If you need help getting things sorted out, talk to a counselor at Kentucky Counseling Center.
Stopping procrastination does not happen overnight. It takes commitment and lifestyle change to hop aboard the productivity train. Be courageous, and don’t let your fears be your weakness. Do not hold yourself back from being the best version of yourself.