All of us procrastinate every now and then. However, if you are postponing important tasks frequently and this prevents you from fulfilling your potential and disrupts your career, you are procrastinating. There is a difference between procrastination and prioritisation, which is when you prioritise the more important tasks – and get it done.
Causes of procrastination
- Poor time management
- Lack of relevance
- Feeling overwhelmed by the task
- Lack of discipline
- Lack of motivation/skills
- Fear of failure
- Fear of the unknown
- The job is unpleasant
- People are disorganised
How to overcome procrastination
1. Recognise that you are procrastinating
Be honest with yourself and identify the reasons for your procrastination, and then work on those reasons.
2. Change your words
Instead of saying, “I have to do this” (which indicates that you don’t have any choice), rather say, “I choose to do it” or “I will do it”. Use language that expresses choice and gives you a feeling of power.
3. Focus on starting instead of finishing
Visualising the finished project can be very overwhelming, so concentrate on taking your first step and focus on what can be done immediately to start with the project. It is usually sufficient to build enough momentum to keep the ball rolling.
4. Segment the task
The entire job may seem impossible, but smaller tasks may seem more manageable and you will feel that you are achieving something. Don’t write a book; write a page. Ignore the big picture for a while and just concentrate on the next small task.
Promise yourself a reward when you have completed a certain task. Ensure that you notice how good it feels to complete things. You then have something to look forward to.
6. Get organised
Keep a to-do list and tick off the tasks you have completed. Use an Urgent/Important Matrix to prioritise your to-do list. Book a time slot in your diary to do a task and set time-bound goals for yourself. Focus on one task at a time.
7. Be realistic
Don’t place too much pressure on yourself, and don’t set your expectations too high. Allow yourself to be human and even imperfect at times. On the other hand, peer pressure is a highly effective approach to complete a task.
Also be realistic with the time frame you allocated to a task. Too much time can lead to procrastination, while insufficient time can cause stress and frustration.
Procrastination is a habit, and you won’t just break it overnight. Identify what causes your procrastination, and use as many approaches as possible to overcome procrastination. You will become stronger, braver, more disciplined, more driven, focused and successful.
“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin
Updated: 18 July 2014