In the New Year?
Why do we feel the need to play the waiting game?
Yes, getting started or trying out something new can be daunting… but is it worst than never getting around to it or not knowing what could have been if you had? For many of us that “tomorrow”, “Monday”, “next week”, “next month” or “in the new year” never comes.
Am I lazy or procrastinating?
Laziness is really all about not wanting to do something, therefore being lazy does not make you guilty of procrastination. Procrastination is postponing something which you really want to do, therefore it is possible to procrastinate even if you’re not lazy.
Procrastination is a habit of delaying getting started, often focusing on easier, less urgent or more enjoyable things, irrespective of the negative consequences that may ensue.
Why is this so? Is it: Out of fear; Lack of confidence; Feeling ill-equipped; or Not wanting to experience certain emotions? Maybe it’s a bit of all the fore-mentioned that fuels this habit. This behaviour can be understood if the task at hand causes anxiety or you find it frustrating, unpleasant, stressful, boring, difficult or overwhelming to tackle.
There are different types of procrastinators: Avoiders, Optimists and Pleasure Seekers. Which one are you?
You’re an AVOIDER if:
- You schedule the undesirable project far out in your calendar to prove that there isn’t time on your agenda for it right now.
- You purposefully put items related to the assignment where you can not see them.
- You get anxious when others talk about the job you’re avoiding.
- You make excuses about why the work isn’t done.
- You make lots of to-do lists to convince yourself that there are other more pressing tasks at hand.
- You have trouble coming up with a concrete plan to get started.
You might fix this behavior if you:
- Breakup the project into smaller steps that don’t seem so scary.
- Self-reflect about the specific reasons why this assignment isn’t attractive to you.
- Identify all the skills and knowledge that qualifies you to do the work.
- Question what you lack to tackle the job at hand and seek help in those areas.
- Find a buddy to encourage you and offer positive accountability.
- Outline all the pros of having the task completed.
Avoiders consistently think that those activities aren’t going to take as long as they may, or that they have more than enough time to finish said activity. They are also very often guilty of being perfectionists.
You’re an OPTIMIST if:
- You brush off warnings from others about deadlines or consequences, assuming that those consequences won’t happen and therefore aren’t worth the worry.
- You fail to see the pattern of times where your procrastination produced a negative result.
- You almost never create a Plan B.
- You initially impress others with your attitude, only to have them eventually quit believing in you because of your lack of follow-through.
- People stop recommending you because of your habitual behavior of letting them down which ultimately results in disappointment.
- You get told that you are overconfident or even delusional.
You might fix the behavior if you:
- Set some unobtrusive alerts at regular intervals so you stay more aware of your pacing.
- Ask for scheduling input from others rather than just relying on your own ideas.
- Create a daily agenda using a realistic assessment of the required time.
- Use time logging or other tools that can verify whether you are on track or if time is running away from you.
- Identify specific “points of no return” on the calendar where certain consequences will no longer be avoidable.
- Create a plan of action to avoid each consequence if you find yourself slipping into old habits.
Research by Jeff Conte, psychologist at San Diego State University, identifies optimism as a key trait among those who are chronically late. The research also suggests that some people actually perceive time differently and feel like it passes more slowly than it actually does.
You’re a PLEASURE SEEKER if:
- You have no patience doing something that does not excite you.
- You refuse to give something much attention if you feel that you won’t get any enjoyment out of it.
- You are more of a “live-in-the-moment” type of person.
- You don’t see the point of wasting your time on mundane tasks.
- Others describe you as lazy or inconsiderate, but not as incapable.
- People are often disappointed in you and your behaviour and describe you as unreliable.
You might fix the behavior if you:
- Reward yourself each time you do a task you would rather have put off.
- Take small breaks while working on the project doing something you like so that you don’t just see one long period of torture ahead.
- Be honest that you might never be in the mood to do this and rather focus on how you will feel after getting it off your plate.
- Find ways to incorporate enjoyable things into the work assignment, like being in a certain location, using specific tools or surrounding yourself with items that make you happy.
- Weigh the implications and consequences of letting people down, taking into account their importance to you.
- Consider why it is imperative to see this through to completion and how it will benefit you to do so.
Pleasure Seekers don’t do what is supposed to be done until they genuinely feel like doing it, which doesn’t always happen. Here, it’s not so much about avoiding a job as it is deliberately choosing to do something you like better in its place.
Identifying what type of procrastinator you are is very important so you can figure out how to help yourself get going sooner.
On the upside, procrastination can increase your creativity and motivation because of the impending deadline which can also spark your excitement to get started.
On the downside, procrastination breeds resentment and frustration if others constantly have to pick up your slack. It can result in relationship problems, poor academic performance, having to deal with bad financial situations as well as taking a toll on your mental well-being and physical health. In the worst case scenario, you may even find yourself facing legal action.
We tend to sweat the small stuff, like when and how; instead of just doing. At the moment the internet is your best friend. Before you had to struggle searching for someone to assist and advise you, but no more. You can literally type any question into your search engine and you can be sure that there will be a myriad of options to choose from.
Remember that nothing tried is ever a complete waste of time. So what if you start and make a mess of it? What is the worst that can happen? You fail and have to restart.
Now the main problem with restarting after you deem something a failure is that all your initial insecurities are exacerbated. The best way forward thereafter, is to deem the experience as a learning opportunity. Hopefully, this attitude fuels you ahead and steers you away from making the same mistakes.
Bear in mind that you may not succeed to attain what you initially hoped for, even on your next attempt, but this is no reason to throw in the towel. Then all you can rely on is your will to succeed and if it is strong enough, you will not give up and keep on trying.
A good point to note is that what you may deem a failure is actually a successful lesson helping you on your way to your desired outcome.
Infants walk and fall a lot. On average a toddler takes 2368 steps before learning to walk… they may fall 15-20 times per hour.
I am creative and capable
The War of Art
Book by Steven Pressfield
Time : 1h 39m
Genre : Comedy/Romance
Procrastination by Amy Winehouse