Do you wait until the last minute to complete a task? Are you thinking of other things to do instead of the job at hand? Does it make you feel guilty or inadequate if it is not perfect? You are not alone.
You have joined the club of procrastinators!
“Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished.” It can affect anyone at any time. The good news is there is help for those of us who want to break the cycle.
Before stopping it, determine why you procrastinate.
Some people believe laziness is a reason people procrastinate. While this may be partially true, there are other things causing us to put off a job until later. Here are a few personal examples:
Scope of Task is Daunting
Daunting can refer to an undertaking that is large and will take time, the task it unpleasant or boring or the job is not interesting to you. Your motivation begins to wane and you continue to put it off until you dread doing the chore at all.
I was just assigned a large task at work that will span many months and involves multiple areas (internal and external) working together.
Each time I began planning how to keep all my tasks for this project organized, I found myself checking email or working on my team’s status report or heading to yet another meeting. While some of these are unavoidable, I kept telling myself I had plenty of time to complete the planning.
All of a sudden I was trying to coordinate meetings and draft correspondence and keep track of every task. I took a whole day to set up my project plan, meet with internal stakeholders so everyone had the same information and develop other documents for keeping everything straight.
Creating as much of this information as possible earlier would have put me in a better position when the project started.
This is a common occurrence for my on a regular day so it really ramps us when I procrastinate when I don’t have to.
My co-worker and I attended a certification class a couple of months ago and then we registered for the exam. We were allowed two months to take the test and complete our certification. We had plenty of time.
I am, and have always been, a terrible test taker (first level of anxiety). Others had completed the exam before us and many said it was tough (second level of anxiety). We had to score at least a 70 to pass (anxiety off the chart).
Each time my co-worker and I tried to schedule a day to take the test, some thing came up (a likely excuse). We hadn’t studied enough or there was a meeting to attend. There were quite a few excuses we came up with prior to taking the exam.
Our deadline was approaching and we finally scheduled the exam. Once the test was completed, we could enter our answers into the computer to find out our grade instantly. And we both passed!
Putting the test off just increased our stress and level of worry.
Fear of Failure or the Unknown
I love writing! Over the past couple of years I have studied different types of writing as well as ways to make money without much success.
Because I am scared I won’t be good enough or don’t have the skill level to complete the job someone asks me to do. My self-confidence sinks down which makes it easy to doubt my abilities.
I think maybe I need to learn something else or buy more tools or resources so my submission to an editor will be better. However, this is just another excuse.
I know I have the knowledge and resources to do the work. At least in my mind I do. If I could just get my emotions in line with my brain.
I have now set a deadline to send in an article to a specific publication. The research is completed but I still have to sit down and write it. The excitement is building but so is my fear.
One thing I am learning is it is okay to be afraid as long as you keep moving forward. My article might not be accepted but it won’t stop me from submitting the next one.
Other Reasons Why People Procrastinate
- Don’t know how to get started (directions not clear)
- Requires effort and hard work
Please tell me why you procrastinate in the comments below.
p.s. Next week’s article will explain how to stop procrastinating.