Procrastination is one of those things that even the most well-organized and punctual fall victim to at some point or another at least once in their lifetime. How many times can you relate to the last time you found yourself watching television when you really should have been doing homework. While common, procrastination can have a detrimental impact on your life, including your grades.
Procrastination is essentially a constant cycle of “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and then having a huge pit of shame in your stomach once tomorrow comes along because you still haven’t even started. And yet, you never learn from it when it happens because we always somehow make it work!
The good news; you’re not alone! Almost every one of us procrastinates in some way or another (heck, we were probably procrastinating writing this article). So, we’re going to dissect why we do it and how to beat it!
What Is Procrastination, anyway?
Procrastinating something means constantly delaying or postponing something that you need to do. You can procrastinate at work, you can procrastinate at school, and in pretty much every social situation and relationship! Pretty much everyone does it once in a while,— which makes it more of an actual lifestyle for us humans.
There’s a common misconception that procrastinating makes you lazy, which is definitely not the case! It generally stems from feeling inadequate, thriving under pressure, or, for those chronic procrastinators, a maladaptive lifestyle.
Types Of Procrastination
There are two main types of procrastination: active and passive. You either semi-choose to procrastinate by choice because you think you work better under pressure (which is totally valid with some people and times!) oooor you get sucked into a hole of self-doubt and indecision so you leave it to the last possible second due to self-doubt (also valid)!
Procrastination can also manifest itself in a few different ways. You may do it because something more interesting has occupied your mind, or you feel like you have more control by putting it off (which quickly spirals out of control as soon as that deadline starts looming.
Here are some other common ways we procrastinate…
- Anxiety Procrastination: Being so anxious about doing something that you keep putting it off.
- Productive Procrastination: Working on literally anything else.
- Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: Staying up really late to get as much free time as you can.
How to overcome procrastination and laziness in your life?
1. Deal with Your Fears upfront
Fear is one major factor that contributes to procrastination. This can involve a fear of failure, a fear of making mistakes, or even a fear of success.
Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Psychology Today contributor and author of The Search for Fulfillment, suggests that challenging your such faulty beliefs is important to overcome such laziness and procrastination. By addressing the fear that is keeping you from getting started, you can begin to overcome your procrastination make a part of your habit since developing good habits are so important for a fulfilling life.
2. Make your to-do List
Start by creating a to-do list with things that you would like to accomplish. If necessary, put a date next to each item if there is a deadline that you need to meet.
Estimate how long each task will take to complete, and then double that number so that you don’t fall into the cognitive trap of underestimating how long each project will take.
3. Break Projects Down Into More Manageable Segments
Whenever you are faced with a big project, at first glance, you might feel daunted, intimidated, or even hopeless when you look at the sheer amount of work involved in it. At this point, take individual items on your list and break them down into a series of steps.
For instance, if you need to write a paper for class, what steps do you need to follow? If you are planning a big family event, what are the things you need to do and what supplies do you need to obtain to make it successful?
Once you have created a list detailing the process you need to go through in order to accomplish the task, you can start working on individual “baby steps.”
4. Recognize the Onset of Procrastination
As you start to tackle items on your list, pay attention to when thoughts of procrastination start to creep into your mind. If you find yourself thinking “I don’t feel like doing this now” or “I’ll have time to work on this later,” then you need to recognize that you are about to procrastinate.
When you feel tempted to procrastinate, don’t give in to the urge. Instead, force yourself to spend at least a few minutes working on the task. In many cases, you might find that it is easier to complete once you get started.
5. Eliminate Distractions
It’s hard to get any real work done when you keep turning your attention to what’s on television or you keep checking your friends’ Facebook status updates. These are serious distractions that contributes towards procrastination and laziness.
Assign yourself a period of time during which you turn off all distractions—such as music, television, and social networking sites—and use that time to focus all of your attention on the task at hand.
6. Reward Yourself
Once you have completed a task (or even a small part of a larger task), it is important to reward yourself for your efforts.
Give yourself the opportunity to indulge in something in reward that you find fun and enjoyable, be it’s attending a sporting event, playing a video game, watching your favorite TV show, or looking at pictures on a social sharing site.
7. Drop the perfectionism mantra.
Perfectionism is an all-or-nothing mentality: Something is either perfect, or it is a failure. People with perfectionistic tendencies are used to wait until things are perfect in order to proceed—so, if it’s not perfect, you cannot be done. There is a problem with this approach.
Instead, focus on being better than perfect. This means to still strive for excellence, or setting yourself up with excellent conditions, but at the same time, you focus on getting the job done. Done is always better than perfect.
8. Be realistic with your goals
As you establish your schedule, set yourself up for success. Projects often take much longer than expected, so bake in some extra time. And look for ways to make it easier on yourself: If, for example, you are not a morning person, don’t expect yourself to get up an hour early to start the exercise program you have put off for months. It might be better to schedule that activity during lunch or before dinner.