YOU MAY DELAY, BUT TIME WILL NOT

                                                –Benjamin Franklin

Procrastination refers to the purposeful delaying or postponing of certain tasks just because you do not have the inclination to do it. Never mistake procrastination for the lack of willpower or commitment, as there are several other reasons that define the situation. Most of the reasons are primarily based on your psychological build up. Anxiety, fear of failure and other forms of negative emotions can push us to delay things further unnecessarily.

Here are 10 prime reasons for procrastination

1. Vague or Unclear Goals

People tend to put over things or procrastinate when they are not sure about their goals or if they do not have a definite aim as opposed to their concrete and clearly defined goals.  For example, goals such as to have a clear or beautiful skin by end of the month sounds real vague and unclear. On the contrary, defining your beauty goals by setting a specific time and a specific usage of creams will help you achieve your goal faster. For example apply fullers earth and moisturize your face every alternate day will help you get a fairer skin. Defining your goal in a specific way like this will make it easier for you to follow it with consistency and dedication.

2. Far Reaching Rewards

The constant thought and expectation to receive rewards is another reason why people put off things or procrastinate. People tend to overlook the value of rewards that can be achieved in the far future, and this phenomenon is referred to as ‘temporal discounting’ or ‘delay discounting’.  For example if the exam is months away, the value of getting good grades is discounted as compared to when the exam is only days away. This time difference forces people to wait until right before the deadline to complete the required tasks.  People tend to focus on short term rewards rather than long term rewards that can be achieved only after a lot of toil and sweat.

3. Unclear about your future self

Another reason for procrastination is the failure to view yourself in the future and the fear of change. When people prefer staying connected to their present-self, they tend to procrastinate as they feel they cannot adjust new changes or situations. This phenomenon is referred to as temporal self-discontinuity or temporal disjunction. In this case people tend to view their future self as another entity or person. For example if you are asked to follow a certain diet plan by the doctor, you neglect the advice with the thought that your health under the present diet will only be a problem after a couple of years, which is someone else’s problem or headache.

4. Intense focus on future options

People sometimes procrastinate because they hope to receive a better option in the future. This constant wait for something better to happen in the future can lead to a definite and never ending procrastination process. For example, a person planning to get married will keep postponing the event in the hope of getting a better match each time they get a new proposal. This in turn will push them to procrastinate endlessly.

5. Optimistic and Over Confidence about the future

People tend to procrastinate when they become over confident and develop a sense of heightened optimism about their ability and time to complete their tasks in the future. This form of optimism can be categorized into two things

  • the amount of time that will be available to complete the task
  • the person’s ability to complete the task.

For example, a student might postpone his project that has to be submitted in a few weeks, because he feels that there is plenty of time to get the task completed. Or because he is confident that he can complete the task within a short span of time. Here the procrastinator underestimates time and overestimates their own capability. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘planning fallacy’.

6. Inability to Decide

Procrastination also happens when people are not able to decide the course of action to be taken to complete a particular task. For example, a person might delay his workout plan because he or she is not able to decide between a gym workout, cardio or a yoga workout.  This situation where you feel stuck and is not able to move forward with any definite decision is termed as ‘analysis paralysis’ or ‘choice paralysis’.

Here are some practical tips you can follow to overcome this problem:

  • Try to have lesser options so that it will be easy for you to choose from.
  • Differentiate your options so that you are able to mark and decide faster
  • Give equal importance to all the options so that you can choose faster.

7. Feeling Dazed and Confused

When people feel overwhelmed by the tasks they need to handle to attain a particular goal, they procrastinate. A sense of tiredness or fear will take over your mind or body at the thought of performing the task will force you to postpone. For example the thought of cleaning your house will overwhelm you when you start thinking about the other things associated with cleaning. This will tire your mind and body even before you get started and eventually you put it off for the next day or a future date.

8. Anxiety

People procrastinate out of fear or anxiety regarding a particular task or situation. For example the fear of too much to study or the fear of not being able to complete your studies before your exam, forces the students to procrastinate. The problem in such cases is as a result of procrastination, the anxiety level of a person also aggravates, and this can have grave effects on a person’s mind and behavior.

9. Hatred towards the Task

People often procrastinate if they develop a sense of hatred towards the task. If the task is unappealing in nature, people tend to avoid it and this leads to procrastination.

10. Fear of Feedbacks, Evaluations and Failure

Constant fear of being judged or evaluated can force people to procrastinate or put off their tasks or decisions.  For example people might procrastinate practicing for an event because of stage fright or the fear of being judged or evaluated. The problem with such cases is that along with procrastination, people will feel highly demotivated and might even stop working towards their goal instead of postponing.

How to stop procrastinating?

It is not an impossible task to stop procrastinating, of course it will take little bit of time for you to adjust to your new tasks or situations. Let’s find out how you can stop your habit of procrastination without affecting your body or mind:

1. Don’t get stressed

Take it slow and stop punishing yourself for procrastinating. Move forward and plant your focus on an alternate option instead. Guilt and regret and degrading emotions and it will continue to put you down if you do not shake yourself up to a shift in your focus.

2. Set a short time limit for the task

Instead of worrying about the total amount of hours to be dedicated to your task, do a bit by bit job of allotting a short time limit for your task. Tell yourself to just work for 15 minutes. Take a short break and work for another 15 minutes. Before you know it, you will be already working for a longer period of time and this will help you complete the task even before you realize it.

3. Task Disintegration

Disintegrate your tasks into small chunks so that you do not feel overwhelmed seeing the size of your project or task. Organize your tasks into a short and a realistic list so that you do not get intimidated or overwhelmed. Start off with the first task on the list and then move forward slowly by allotting regular breaks after each task. This way you will feel relaxed and will give you a sense of achievement at the end.

4. Begin with the Hardest Task

Mornings are the time where you feel all energized and pepped up to go. So it is better to choose the hardest task first. Tackle your hardest task in your docket right then, so that you will feel all better and relieved once the task is completed. You can also choose that part of the day you feel the most motivated and energized and this will help you work at a better pace. If you are not a morning person, then choose another right time to complete your tasks. Or else, you can land up making careless errors or can feel frustrated if you work with a groggy mind.

5. Motivate Yourself

Talk yourself into motivation and positivity and this itself will help you stay focused and committed for a longer period of time. Use expressions like ‘You Rock’ or ask yourself questions like ‘why are you nervous when you have handled better things before?’ etc. Motivate yourself loudly so that you feel energized, pepped up and all ready to go. If you are feeling a little lazy to start off, just give a starting count of Ready…1…2…3 and push yourself to start off with your work. This action does not give you the time to be lazy.

6. It is all in your mind

Train yourself mentally to overcome the fear of failure and imagine yourself beaming with glory and happiness after completing your project or task. Always visualize positivity and you attaining a positive result after completing your task and this will automatically motivate you to start off with your work.

7. Reward Yourself

Promise to celebrate or reward yourself after you complete the task you have been dreading to start. Just tell yourself that you will enjoy your favorite ice cream if you push yourself through the pain and come to the other side of project or task completion.

Conclusion

First understand the reason behind your procrastination habit, analyze the same and find out the best way to tackle this problem using the tips given in this write up.

STAY MOTIVATED!

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