What is Procrastination?
Everyone does it, including you. You have things to do, important things or mundane things, and you put off doing them until the last-minute. If Procrastination were an Olympic event you might be in the running for a gold medal, you’re that good at it. You make jokes about being a world-class procrastinator with your friends, telling them that sure, you could finish that project right now if you wanted to but (yawn) you’re just going to do it tomorrow.
Procrastination is putting something off until later, either due to carelessness or habitual laziness. It’s putting off till tomorrow what you just as easily could have finished up today. A procrastinator postpones or needlessly delays accomplishing something –just because.
Students are notorious for engaging in this behavior. Papers need to be researched and written, tests must be studied for but none of this is done or even started until the very last-minute. Students who procrastinate generally spend a great deal of time pulling all –nighters in order to catch up to where they need to be or to cram for the big test in the morning.
A person who is habitually late to everything, from weddings to dates, is someone who procrastinate getting ready to leave. They don’t start getting ready until it’s nearly time to leave. They move so slowly that by the time they should leave for the event, they’re still way behind schedule.
Why do we let things slide until we’re in a time crunch and the deadline is looming and we’re not even CLOSE to being finished? What could be the reasons that we procrastinate?
Why Do You Do It?
The behavior of procrastination affects almost everyone at one time or another in their life. It is a continuous habit for some, a part of who they are, a not-so-endearing character trait; for others it may be a situational thing and doesn’t affect too many events in their life. For whatever reason, people put off things they don’t want to do.
You Are Afraid. No one likes to admit that they fear something. But fear might just be the reason you put off doing what you know you should do. Whether it’s fear of failure or fear of success, it’s still fear. Fear is a paralyzing emotion. It has the ability to stop us in our tracks-literally. Some writers fear failure so they never write that epic novel they have been churning around inside of them; some fear success and the result is the same.
Because You Don’t Think it’s Important Enough. You don’t place a high enough priority on the task at hand, it’s not vital and so it’s not worthy of you beginning it. You know the task needs to be done and you may already have decided that you’re the one who must do it. However, there is always something else more important on your to-do list that keeps bumping that particular job back to the bottom.
You Don’t Know Enough to do the Task. Beginning a project because you simply don’t know everything you need to know in order to complete the task could lead to procrastination. You may not have consciously admitted this to yourself, but deep down you know it. And it’s coming out as an aversion to starting the project. You must determine whether or not you haven’t collected all the data on what you have to do, or simply because you want to stall for more time.
You’re Too Busy. Life is busy. We have jobs and commitments and sometimes, just sometimes, we can’t get to a particular task because we’ve run out of time in our busy day to complete one more thing.
It Works. Unfortunately, procrastination can reinforce itself. If we avoid something we don’t want to do (like cleaning out the rain gutters) by engaging in behavior that we want to engage in (like hanging out with friends) then getting to it later, we can say that putting it off wasn’t that bad after all. And besides, we had fun while we procrastinated.
‘Haven’t Committed To the Job? You think that the job belongs to someone else and think that doing it is a waste of time. If this is how you’re looking at this particular task, ask yourself of the consequences if you don’t complete the job.
You Just Don’t Want To Do It. Everyone is faced with jobs in life that they simply don’t want to do. The task could be disgusting, like having to clean toilets. Or it could be dangerous, like climbing up on the roof and cleaning the leaves out from the rain gutters. We put off doing the task at hand because we simply do not want to do it. Period. There is no underlying psychological reason for putting it off. It’s that recalcitrant two-year old in us coming out to say “I don’t wanna and I’m not gonna”.
Or You Could Just Be Lazy. Yes, that’s what I said. It’s not an easy thing to hear about yourself. Facing the truth about ourselves can help us overcome bad habits and succeed where we otherwise may have failed. Find a way to motivate yourself out of your habit of being lazy in order to stop procrastinating.
In my next post, let us tackle some practical ways on how to avoid procrastinating.