Procrastination has become a big challenge in modern times. Everyone has heavy workload coupled with a busy schedule and deadlines. The result: work piles up. We all indulge in procrastination at some point of time. It is a habit of delaying a task despite knowing its implications.
Most of the time procrastination arises from the fear that we will not be able to do a task. Delaying tasks is either due to the fear or when one finds it either very boring or very challenging. When we delay work, we have last-minute pressures, which lead to stress and anxiety. Generally, procrastinators postpone work to avoid distress. Ironically, the approach causes more distress in the long run. Every day spent procrastinating is another day spent in worrying about that thing. We don’t realise that we ourselves have made situation worse by stalling all the work.
Some of us continue this habit of delaying work and get entangled in chronic procrastination. Almost 20 percent of the world’s population has turned chronic procrastinators. This includes both adults and children. It is important to identify this problem in time and do something about it.
We all have got this advice many times- “Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.” This is the most common and most valuable advice we get but some of us choose to ignore it. Unfortunately procrastination is not taken seriously. Time once gone never comes back – a year from now you may wish you had started today. One cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
The main reason of procrastination is that we do not enjoy what we are doing. When we do more of what we adore we are full of energy and enthusiasm. Our work should excite us enough that we get lost in it. Another major reason of procrastination is that in today’s time we all are getting pulled in many different directions. There is internet, social networking sites, television, on line shopping, parties and many other things. At work places or in schools there are a lot of activities every single day. It becomes very difficult to manage so many activities. It becomes draining, derailing and confusing with multi-directional pull. These extra activities act like distractions and leave less time for the more important work. When there is less time one gets panic attacks and is forced to leave the task unfinished. Therefore it’s important to stay focussed on what really matters. One more reason for procrastinating is the fear of failure which that keeps us from attempting the work. Fear of failure should not be the reason of not to try something. Do not fear the failure but fear the absence of progress in life.
Negative effects of procrastination
Procrastination can have many negative effects on our lives and the organisation we work for
- When we do not complete any task we put it on next day and this might continue for many days and lead to chronic procrastination.
- Not completing tasks leads to stress and anxiety.
- It brings drop in performance, which can lead to long term self-esteem and career setbacks. Procrastination affects the quality of work.
- We lose the precious time .This is a terrible feeling because you can’t turn back the hands of time, you just have to live with the helpless feeling of regret.
- At times it can lead to health problems like headache, indigestion, insomnia.
- We miss the opportunities. Opportunity once lost does not come back. Most opportunities only come around once.
- If you procrastinate in a leadership position all-important decision get delayed. Being able to take right decisions at the time is crucial part of leadership. Lack of proactive leadership can have profound effects on the organisations growth.
- You take poor decisions as there is pressure to finally make a decision as time is running out.
- Procrastination can steal dreams, stop our growth and at times it can even damage our reputation.
Ways to overcome procrastination
- The best way to get something done is to begin. Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
- Try and keep focus by deleting unnecessary things from life. Block distractions and do more important things
- Learn to say NO to people, things and work which distract you. Be firm and buy yourself the time.
- Write goals along with timelines. Put them on the pin board in your room that you can see at all times.
- Plan your day. Do not put too many tasks on the to-do list. It confuses you. Prioritize and make the list short. Start with the hardest task.
- When you find any work challenging or too much, break it down- chunk down a big task or project into small parts and take up one part each day.
- Ask yourself these two questions
What will happen if I finish this task today?
What will happen if I delay the task?
- Learn to delegate, a leader should be able to divide the work and allocate it to the subordinates. It will make everything more organised and also give others opportunity to flourish their abilities and skill.
- Promise yourself rewards when you finish a task.
- Motivate yourself by self-talks like ‘Yes! I can do it’.
Remember that procrastination is like a habit, it is really hard to kick, but it can make or break you.
“The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.” – Norman Vincent Peale
TedX speaker, Author & Certified NLP practitioner, Bangkok
President, Sashakt, New Delhi