With the end of the year approaching quickly, there is big pressure to close things off. At work, there are projects to be finished, budgets to be closed, clients to be managed, last decisions to be made. At home, there is the crazy preparation for holidays which every year begins earlier and earlier. There is buying gifts, decorating the house, planning what to cook, shopping.
So many things, so little time. If only you could survive on fewer hours of sleep, without drowning yourself with coffee every day…
You try to stay optimistic about all this, but you can’t stop thinking ‘If only I stared with everything a bit sooner…’ Well, you didn’t. Another year, another fail with planning. Is it possible to stop procrastinating?
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is just a sophisticated name for not doing what you know you should be doing. Don’t mistake it for just being lazy. Lazy people don’t do things they know they should, but they ok with it. Procrastinators want to do things, but they cannot seem to start.
As for the reasons, there could be many. Perhaps you like to live on the edge, so leaving things to the last minute gives you the kick. With adrenaline rush, you are then able to complete the task in half the time. Good on you.
Or maybe, you don’t like the task that needs to be done, so you put it off for as long as you possibly can. Maybe you are afraid of completing it, so you avoid it. It could also be possible, that you don’t know what decision to make, so you do nothing at all. You just can’t bring yourself to stop procrastinating.
Those are all very possible scenarios. We all procrastinate every now and again. Why is it, that so many of us cannot start the task that is inevitable?
Do some people work better under pressure?
You often hear people say ‘I work better under pressure.’. Is that true? Or is it simply the perfect way to rationalize our choices. You keep telling yourself that you work better with closer deadlines, so postponing the task yet again seems to be ok. It’s just the way you operate.
Some psychologists argue that procrastination can increase creativity, so putting off a task is actually good for you. By doing that, you are giving yourself a mental space to dwell on the subject. You are welcoming all perspectives and you remain more open than if you’d just jumped right in it. Some even call it active procrastination.
Many have criticized this approach, saying that it’s just another way to justify our weakness. Tim Pychyl, a psychology professor and director of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in his latest research showed that ‘procrastination can be tied to low self-control, poor performance, and fewer signs of well-being.’
Maybe it really is better to stop procrastinating and just get on with things? We all get the satisfaction out of things we manage to accomplish, right?
How to stop procrastinating?
Whatever the reason, the truth is, that some things just need to get done. No amount of procrastination will bring you closer to completion. There are a few tips and tricks which could help you to stop procrastinating:
- Create a plan with many mini-deadlines. Split the big task for a few smaller ones, each with the deadline. Working towards those due dates will bring you closer to your end goal. You will create some pressure to accomplish what you’ve planned, so if you one of those people who claim to work best under pressure, here you go. There is nothing better than plenty of deadlines hanging above your head. Productivity, here I come!
- Turn any mundane task into a pleasurable one. If the problem is that you simply don’t enjoy what needs to be done, try to combine it with something you love doing. Listen to your favorite podcast, while sorting out your wardrobe, make yourself a favorite cup of tea when starting to write a blog post, or get some tickets to the cinema right after you book this long-overdue dentist appointment.
- Try the ‘carrot or stick’ strategy. You surely heard of this one. Just give yourself a reward for finishing the task. Small chocolate, going out with friends or buying a red Ferrari – whatever you can afford. If the carrot isn’t your thing, try the stick. Give yourself a small punishment every time you procrastinate. Ban on Netflix, or putting aside some money in a jar could do (if nothing helps you’d at least save some money for next vacations). Don’t beat yourself up too much though.
- Go cold turkey. – This is for the brave ones! Just like the old Nike slogan ‘Just do it!’, there is nothing better that beats procrastination than simply starting. Once you do, you will see it was not so hard after all.
Some last words on procrastination are those – people usually regret things they haven’t done much more, than the things they did. Don’t let procrastination hinder your life happiness.
What is your way to combat procrastination? Let us know.