6 Reasons We Procrastinate (And How To Overcome Them)
Ever kick yourself when a deadline comes up, wishing that you’d started sooner? Or do you sit there wondering where the time went? I’m sure we’ve all fallen into the rabbit hole of procrastination, only to come out the other side having made four cups of tea, clicked on the red shoes after Googling Wizard of Oz (thank me later) and read the same email seven times.
So despite knowing it can affect productivity why do we still do it? Here are some reasons why you might procrastinate and tips on how to overcome them.
1. Having no clear deadline or structure
How many tasks do you ‘keep meaning to do’ but never get around to them? Open ended or long term deadlines have no sense of urgency. If you believe you have all the time in the world to complete something, then why would you start it now? Long term deadlines are often bypassed by something that needs to be completed sooner.
If that’s the case why not break it down into smaller, clearly defined tasks with a timeline of deadlines leading up to the main deadline. This gives the task more structure, gives you focus and not only makes it feel more manageable, but achievable.
2. The task is boring or uninspiring
We all come across tasks on a daily basis that we find boring or uninspiring. So why wouldn’t you spend your time on YouTube watching penguins playing rather than doing your data entry?
Unfortunately boring tasks are often still necessary, so could you approach them in a different way to make them more enjoyable? Could you make a game of completing them? Or how about thinking about the end result? How great are you going to feel once the task has been completed? Or could you reward yourself at the end of the task to encourage you to finish it?
3. Anxiety or lack of confidence
You might be procrastinating over a task that you have never done before, or you don’t even know where to start. Or you are scared that you are going to mess it up. So, to save yourself the worry, you busy yourself with tasks that are well within your comfort zone. This might help you feel like you’re being productive and ticking off your to-do list, but it won’t help you in the long run.
No one is born knowing everything. In order to learn and grow, more often than not, you will need to try something you have never done before.
Here are two strategies for overcoming your fear of failure:
- In the words of Nike, Just do it. What’s the worst that could happen? If you nail it, you’ll wonder what you were worried about. If you make a mistake, you’ll learn from it. Either way you will have tried.
- Ask for help or support. There is a world of help out there: friends, family, colleagues, managers, business buddies, Google, social media, who can all help, support and inspire you to get started, give you focus and make you accountable.
4. Your work environment
Try to make it so you feel inspired (or at least comfortable) when you sit down to work, If your office, or desk, is actually somewhere you enjoy being, then that’s a good start.
Distractions can easily lead to procrastinations when you struggle to regain focus. I know this one might be easier said than done during recent months, but try to work in an environment with minimum distractions.Turn off notifications or any other pings, bings or bongs that come up on your computer or phone. Don’t be afraid to let people in your office know you don’t want to be disturbed.
5. Not taking breaks
No one, I repeat no one, can be productive 24/7 without breaks. You will be far more focused, and therefore productive, if you are refreshed, fed and watered. By taking breaks you will also give yourself a better work / life balance being able to spend more time with friends, family, or by yourself without the thought or stresses of work.
6. Trying to do everything yourself
Whilst some people find procrastination beneficial (that’s a whole other blog) for the majority of us, it is a huge time and productivity drainer. The danger is not only are you spending your precious time on the task itself, but also on the procrastination that comes with it.
If you know there are tasks that you continually put off, or spend far too much time on (either doing or procrastinating on) why not delegate or outsource the task? You can then work on tasks that are more inspiring or that you want to do.
So how about you? Are you prone to procrastinate? A devil for dawdling? Susceptible to stalling? How do you overcome procrastination?