You might think that you’re alone in your tendency to procrastinate, and you may even spend a lot of time trying to hide your habit to keep your secret. The truth is that about 20% of all adults are chronic procrastinators. Many others, however, demonstrate that “put off until tomorrow” attitude. So, Why Are You Procrastinating & How Can We Help Fix It?
Did you know that procrastination affects your levels of happiness?
Any level of procrastination usually implies increased stress, which results in lower levels of happiness and satisfaction. You’ll be taking more sick days as a result too.
Many people believe that procrastination only involves not getting a work or school project done on time. But procrastination habits are much more pervasive than that. Chronic procrastinators avoid making life decisions like asking for a promotion, marriage, having children, starting a healthy weight-loss and fitness program. Losing out on opportunities to advance either at work or on a personal level leave people feeling frustrated and less satisfied with their quality of life.
So, why Are You Procrastinating? While it might be tempting to just gut things out and get them done, sometimes it is better to figure out why you’re avoiding something in the first place. The answers may surprise you. The two major reasons we procrastinate are:
- Fear of Failure. This is actually the number one reason many people procrastinate about anything. What if I’m not good enough? What if I let my boss down? What if I can’t stick to my diet? What if I’m not ready for the marathon next fall? The deep, dark secret of these people is that they are perfectionists. And perfectionists lose out on a lot in the game of life. Why? Because they won’t engage in anything, including marriage or a relationship, unless than feel they can be 100% sure of success. Sometimes getting something done simply has to be good enough. Getting something done is better than getting it done perfect.
- Fear of Success. While related to the previous reason, those who are afraid of success are paralyzed by the expectations that follow. If we do something really well, then everyone will expect us to do the same thing every time. Even worse, we fear that by climbing the corporate ladder we will lose our friends. Some would rather coast on the tails of mediocrity when they have the fear of success. Thomas Williams, a former NFL football player said that when he was a sophomore in high school, the coach brought him up from freshman football to varsity. Thomas was honored, but all his friends were on JV and he didn’t think he was good enough. Fortunately for Thomas and the football world, his coaches kept him on varsity. And those friends he was afraid of leaving behind were still friends. In the meantime he made new ones on varsity.
So if you find yourself in the throes of procrastination for any reason, try to follow these tips – they are from John Perry, PhD who wrote the book The Art of Procrastination, and we try to abide by them on a daily basis:
Nag Yourself. Use Post-it notes everywhere to remind you what you have to get done. Program your phone or computer to send reminders to get things done. We’re at a point in time where technology sinks from app to app – an appointment confirmation you receive in your email can automatically program into your calendar on your iPhone! My email calendar sends me messages as many times as I want to remind me to get important tasks done.
Think of a Worse Task. Consider what Mike Rowe does for his Dirty Jobs show and compare what you have to do to one of his. It makes the relative insignificance of your task easier to handle. Have the “things can always be worse” mentality.
Lower the Bar. Or better yet, simplify the task at hand. Ask yourself, “What’s one step I can do to start working on my task?” Rather than thinking of all the steps necessary to complete the task, look at what is involved in completing the task and then list out the steps. When you break it up like that, many times we have plenty of time for one or two steps several times during the day or week. By the end of the week, you may be surprised to find the task all but done.
Procrastination is something we can fall victim to at any age, in any profession. We hope these tips are useful for your everyday life moving forward. Remember, we always recommend to live day by day – don’t get overwhelmed with your task at hand. Whether you’re planning a wedding, writing a research paper, or training for a fitness competition – carpe diem! Seize the day!