"Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow."
Procrastination is a complex psychological behavior associated with people who develop a habit of putting off and stalling tasks for the future. So, haven't we all gone through a phase where we delay getting a thing done? Yes, everyone is affected by procrastination to some degree. However, for certain people, this behavioral problem can be a source of constant stress and anxiety, so much so that it affects the individual's progress and performance. The result: missed opportunities, frenzied work hours, stress, resentment, and guilt of not having done the thing that you are supposed to. This is irrespective of the fact that most procrastinators know exactly what they have to do, but due to whatever reasons keep stalling the work at hand. Here are some of the common causes and characteristics of the problem.
Characteristics Of Procrastination
Most of the time, procrastinators have an optimistic view of their ability to complete the tasks in time. This results in delaying the work till their back is against the wall and there are no other alternatives other than finishing the task at hand. This is then followed up by a spurt of anxious efforts towards completing the tasks, accompanied by the justification for their action such as "I work well in pressure situations" or "I did not get time". Some of the common characteristics of procrastinators are:
- Low self-confidence and self-esteem
- Stubborn behavior
- Inability of coping with pressure
- Fear of change and facing the unknown
- Fear of failure
- Lack of organization
- Overwhelmed with the situation
- Too "busy" to do things
- Overworked and tired
Tips to Overcome Procrastination
Recognizing the problem: Recognizing the problem and understanding the cause of it is the first step towards overcoming procrastination and increasing your productivity. For this, you need to prioritize your tasks by placing the important ones up front. You are faced with the problem when you are whiling away your time or when you fill your day with unimportant tasks rather than starting off on the high-priority ones. Leaving work pending for too long or stalling a high-priority task for the future can be an indication of procrastination. Most of the time, the reason is that the tasks are either too unpleasant or overwhelming.
Just do it!: Once you have made a checklist of your tasks for a day, start the project by focusing on starting rather than finishing the project. While for some, the results of a task might be motivating, others can get depressed by the thought of the difficult project completions. This creates an unnecessary fear and resistance towards a given task. So rather than "having to" do a task just "choose to" do it. Scheduling and starting off with the tasks are best ways to overcome the problem.
Break down into shorter tasks: The size of a pending task is enough to depress a person. However, rather than dwelling on its daunting size and effort, break up the project into smaller manageable tasks. This makes it easier to create an action plan. Start of with the smaller, quicker tasks which will give you a sense of achievement and motivation to help you work further.
Beat the stress: The feeling of constant stress and pressure makes it hard for you to work productively. While it is good to stick to a schedule, overdoing things can add to the stress. Instead, give yourself a break and do things which are not that overwhelming. This allows you to de-stress and clear off the mind clutter before you can proceed with the tasks. Also understand that perfectionism is what fuels procrastination. So allow yourself to make small mistakes and learn from the backsliding. Accepting setbacks and overcoming them will allow you to take the steps towards perfectionism.
Treat yourself: Being stuck to one task and developing the negative feelings of being trapped can leave you frustrated and overworked. Giving your self time off from the hectic schedule and treating yourself small rewards allows you enjoy the task at hand.
Believing in your ability to do the work and going ahead with it is a good way of beating the procrastination block. This will help you develop good time management and organizational skills. Start off with effective planning, segmenting your tasks, and monitoring your progress. This is a gradual process and you need to keep trying to overcome procrastination in college, school, office, or even your home.