As often as I’ll say to myself “I’ll do it early next time” or “I’ll feel more motivated tomorrow,” I can’t ever seem to bring myself to do the things I really need to do. I’ll actively look for distractions by checking my texts, playing games, and surfing the net. But why would I choose to sabotage themselves and avoid success?
You might think procrastination comes from overconfidence, thinking the task isn’t so important in the long run, or laziness. Yet oftentimes, my procrastination comes from lack of motivation or usually I just underestimate the feeling of stress I’ll have in the future by predicting it to be similar to my present feelings. Most scientists and every day people agree that procrastination most commonly starts with one of four things: fear of failure, perfectionism, fatigue, or in my case, the inability to focus and make a start on the task ahead of me.
The good news is that you weren’t born this way and it doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. It is possible to overcome your laziness, albeit it isn’t easy. But just like any condition you’d want to work at to overcome, overcoming your procrastination ends up helping you in the long run.
People are so often too kind with themselves and others. They allow irrelevant and sometimes trivial things get in the way of their work. By saying, “I couldn’t get this done because my grandmother died Monday,” people pull at others’ heartstrings and manipulate their way into procrastination. As awful as this sounds, the death of my grandmother is not stopping me from doing my work. It’s myself and what I choose to focus on that causes me to procrastinate.
So how do I stop myself from procrastinating? First, I need to put time in a way that seems more urgent. For example, I have to give a speech on Saturday while today is Sunday. It feels like I have plenty of time, while in actuality I only have six days. By catching myself in my procrastination now, I’m allowing myself time to complete the task at hand.
Next is really the hardest step, getting started on the task and budgeting my time. My speech is three pages long, so I’ll have to memorize a half page a day and I need to start memorizing today. I can’t allow myself to text or distract myself, so I need to put away all other distractions and just practice my speech. If I manage to pull it off, that is one more step towards the elimination of my procrastination.
This isn’t something someone can just do once and magically get out of the habit of procrastination. I’m also not saying that it’s easy, but if you can manage to break that habit, you’ll find yourself a lot more efficient and successful in every aspect of your life.