Why We Procrastinate & 3 tips for Avoiding it
Procrastinating is more common than most people would admit. Sometimes we can be productive yet still procrastinate on what is more important to us.
I’ve always considered myself a hard worker and a goal oriented person. For the past three years, I found myself putting the things I regard as “important” on the side. It’s not that I don’t want to do them, in fact, I would love to see myself complete these tasks. After some much needed reflection and honesty, I accept the reality — I am procrastinating. Big time!
This guest post by Mari L. McCarthy, the author of Heal Your Self with Journaling Power (I’m hosting a giveaway for a copy of the book) couldn’t have come at the best time. Let me know at the comment section below on what you think about it.
If you’ve ever waited until the last minute to start a major school assignment, work project or chore, you understand the allure of procrastination. You don’t want to do the one thing you really need to do – so you come up with a creative list of other tasks that you absolutely have to tackle instead.
I haven’t talked to my mom in over a week! Let me give her a quick call to check in.
I’ll just knock out a few emails so that I can fully focus on that presentation.
I have to do meal prep for the week right now. We can’t go hungry, can we?
You know when you’re procrastinating that it’s harmful and you’ll regret it later, but it’s a tough habit to break. You’re far from the only one who struggles with this problem – and it has nothing to do with you being lazy or flawed or irresponsible. Procrastination is a way of coping with negative moods and difficult emotions sparked by certain tasks like anxiety, self-doubt, frustration and boredom, according to research.
Maybe you are putting off a chore you simply dislike and find unpleasant – like doing your taxes or weeding the garden. Or you might be reacting to deeper emotions associated with the task. For example, you’re reluctant to apply for that job because you feel insecure about your skills and are afraid of rejection. Or you’re avoiding cleaning out your closet because you are self-conscious about your body after having a baby.
But procrastinating only magnifies these negative emotions – increasing your stress and anxiety (along with a bonus helping of self-blame!) when you do finally have to deal with the task.
So what can you do to overcome procrastination? Take out a journal or notebook, and try one of these research-backed strategies:
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Beating yourself up over procrastination doesn’t help you change your behavior, but treating yourself with self-compassion can allow you to move forward. Let go of your past missteps, and write down what you’ll do differently next time.
- Take it one step at a time. When faced with a task that you are dreading, think of it in terms of small, individual actions, instead of one huge project. If you were to get started, what small steps would you take first? Write it down. Do that one little thing, and celebrate it as a success. Then try to build on that momentum to keep taking other small steps.
- Visualize a positive outcome. Imagine how you will feel when you have completed a project. How will you benefit? What reactions will you get from other? Picture what your victory lap will look like, and describe it in detail.
The most important takeaway is:
“Give yourself a fresh start, and take action now to make your future self happy. “