Dealing with procrastination.
Dealing with procrastination is difficult for everyone. We all do it from time to time. The question really is, how often and how much?
We had Elaine Garrett of www.personal-business-protection.org submit an article about procrastination. It's a little unusual in that the procrastinator was not herself, but her husband. Here's what Elaine had to say:
I am not a procrastinator but I’ve somehow managed to live in acceptance with one for 43 years. That is, until he retired and there was no escaping it.
Right after he retired, it was pleasant eating breakfast together and laying out the plans for our day. But those key chores never got completed; most never even got started.
Frustrated, I asked my lifelong friend and procrastinator Jan to explain any insights she might have had about her own inability to get things done in a timely fashion.
Her procrastination drove her, her family and her employers crazy, so I knew she had to have put some thought into this habit of putting things off until the last minute.
I was right. Jan had been trying to understand her inability to keep to a schedule. Coincidentally, she had just had a personal epiphany about what caused her to put things off shortly before I called her.
Jan’s realization was that fear caused her to procrastinate.
Fear? I left our long distance phone call disappointed. How could fear possibly cause someone to be disorganized and unmindful of time?
Turns out Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychoanalyst who serves on the faculty of the prestigious New York-Presbyterian Hospital, also believes the root of procrastination lies in fear!
Of course fear isn’t the only cause of procrastination. Here’s the top 3 causes of procrastination.
FEAR: These procrastinators use avoidance and delay in hopes the task will expire or go away so that it no longer has to be done.
Avoidance born out of fear of failure or doing badly has a way of multiplying so that the procrastinator fails to accomplish many of the duties that are expected of him. This often leads to feelings of a lack of self-worth: anxiety that he is somehow incompetent and unworthy.
Their performance or lack of it reinforces their low self-esteem. Depression is common among these procrastinators.
“Fear of failure is difficult to overcome, because this fear is based on an emotion rather than logic,” John M. Grohol, Psy.D wrote back in 2005. Personally, I still have trouble imagining that either my husband or friend fear failing. They have long, successful careers that they can look back on.
Dr. Grohol also discusses perfectionism as going hand-in-hand with fear. Now, that I can imagine! Both of my loved ones produce outstanding results from their efforts.
Grohol notes that perfectionists set unrealistic goals for themselves so that any of their achievements seem to them to be flawed.
Hmmm. How many times have you congratulated someone for a task well done only to hear them complain “it could have been better if…”?
Disorganization: This is how procrastination looks to me. I don’t see the fear. I see extra movement that could be trimmed by evaluating the task ahead of time and bringing all the tools to get the job done at the outset.
The largest disorganization issue is properly prioritizing tasks.
Most procrastinators tend to tackle the easiest tasks first, regardless of whether they are urgent or not. The urgent or difficult tasks, however, begin to pile up as they are put off.
Cognitive Debilities: These are problems that include lack of an innate awareness of time; or irrational beliefs like having to be in the right mood to work on a particular task or that one will be less distracted or more focused if he starts the project later or on another day.
Dr. Saltz offers these strategies to help overcome tendencies to procrastinate.
1. Prioritize tasks. If you treat everything like a priority, you’ll be overwhelmed and get none of it done. Likewise, if nothing seems important, nothing will get done. Create a “to do” list, ranking tasks in order of priority. Marking a specific amount of time to work and to play with your calendar also helps.
2. Question your beliefs. Do you tell yourself that you work better under pressure? Prove it. Do one task at the last minute and one ahead of deadline. Test other myths like: “Everything I do must be done perfectly.” Myths or personal beliefs are an underlying cause of procrastination.
3. Control impulsiveness. Most procrastinators jump from one task to the next and never finish anything. Make yourself complete one task before beginning on another.
4. Old habits die hard. Don’t expect to change overnight. If you change one thing a week, you are making progress, and that progress will show you that more change is possible.
I won’t promise that these suggested solutions will change a lifetime of bad habits in you or a loved one. I’ve gone over these solutions one by one with my husband -- many times.
He improves for a day or two but then slips back into his previous disorganization.
We hope this article on dealing with procrastination was helpful. It's so easy to fall into the trap of putting things off and so difficult at times to overcome it.
Here's something else to consider when dealing with procrastination: Start with the small things. You want to start a habit of getting things done on a more timely basis. If you start with the small things you've been putting off, it will be easier to form the habit of getting things done, so when you are ready, you'll have the psychological muscle to tackle the more difficult issues.
Finally, motivation comes from both pain and pleasure. When dealing with procrastination, it's important to consider the pain you will feel if you let something slide. Dwell on that pain. Sounds morbid, doesn't it? But procrastinators, run from the pain. If the prospects of pain are great enough, the chances are you'll go ahead and do it.
Whenever you overcome procrastination, reward yourself. Celebrate.
We want to thank Elaine Garett of www.personal-business-protection.org for this article on dealing with procrastination.