Do You Procrastinate?
Many people struggle with procrastinating. Have you ever said “I will do this after I ____?” Fill in the blank. We have all been there. You have a deadline coming up for school or work and suddenly you realize that you need to do laundry. You tell yourself “I will do my assignment after I put the laundry in the washing machine.” Then you realize there are dishes in the sink that need to be done. After the dishes are done you are hungry so you make lunch. Then maybe you have to go pick the kids up from school. All of a sudden, five hours or even several days have passed and you still have not done what you needed to.
Then, you panic! You write a paper, a work proposal, a class assignment, a blog post, you read something for your upcoming client, all in the night before it needs to be done. As you do, you feel stressed, panicked, overwhelmed even! You are angry at yourself for waiting until the last minute. Why do you always do this?!
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you are a habitual procrastinator.
“A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”
What Do I Do If I Procrastinate?
The problem with procrastination is that you have likely been doing it so long that it’s familiar to you. We don’t actively avoid doing what we need to do… it just seems to happen! Here is some information about procrastination that you probably did not know:
There is no one reason that people procrastinate. There is also not just one type of person who is prone to procrastination. Psychology Today reports that people that chronically procrastinate tend to fall into three categories:
- thrill seekers who like the rush of waiting until the last minute
- those who fear failure, fear success, or are perfectionists
- and people who have difficulty making a decision
We have only started studying procrastination in the last 25 years or so. One of the first studies was done in 1997. The study of college students found that when they procrastinated their work was of lower quality than in situations where they did not procrastinate. The procrastinators also reported higher levels of stress and illness than students who did not procrastinate.
This flies in the face of that person we all know who claims “I do my best work when I wait until the last minute!”
Some people procrastinate because a task gives them anxiety while others are bad at estimating how much time something will take. If you think a four hour task can be done in one hour, you aren’t going to give yourself enough time to complete it!
Perfectionists procrastinate because they are so concerned with something not being perfect that they make sure they do not have enough time. It’s better to do a bad job because you didn’t have enough time than to do a bad job when you spend countless hours on something, right?
Easy Ways To Stop Procrastinating
- Break the task into smaller, more easily managed tasks. Number the tasks so that you can easily check off when you have completed one.
- Change your environment. If you are more easily distracted at home, go to a coffee shop or library.
- Make a timeline with specific deadlines for yourself. For example, if you know that you will be making a presentation in 2 weeks, take your smaller tasks and assign yourself a deadline for each.
- Ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable. Let them know what your assignment is and when it is due. Ask them to text or call you each day to check whether or not you are on track.
- Remind yourself why you are doing it. If it’s a school assignment, think about the reason you are in school. If it’s a work assignment, remind yourself of what you want to achieve in your career
- Think about the quality of the work you see other people turning in. Is yours 2x or even 5x better than theirs? Most of the time what we do does not need to be perfect to be better than average.
List adapted from LifeHack.
The Problem With Procrastination
Procrastination can have many consequences. Putting off paying a bill can cause late fees or damage your credit. Leaving a class or work assignment until the last minute can lead to mistakes you would catch if you had time to proofread or check your work. Also, waiting until the last minute to avoid anxiety may make you more anxious as you rush through the task.
You will never do your best work when you rush through a last-minute task, which may end up hurting your grades or ability to get a promotion at work.
If you are someone who feels like you do your best work at the last minute, try an experiment. Take two assignments. Do one at the last minute like you typically do and do the other a little at a time over the period of a week. Ask a friend you trust to read both and tell you which is better. If both are great, and you do not experience any negative consequences such as anxiety when you procrastinate, don’t change.
For most people, there are negative emotions associated with first avoiding something that needs to be done and then doing it at the last minute.
Give Yourself Time To Change
Remember, change does not happen overnight. By planning and implementing the tips in the list to the left, you can begin to change your procrastination habit. It will not be easy to change. You will have to make an effort. If you are experiencing consequences due to procrastination, it is worth the effort!
You Can Stop Procrastinating!
Don’t wait! Do it today.
Believe in yourself and your power to change what does not work for you.
“Always remember the crucial difference between who you are and what you achieve. There’s so much more to your worth than your accomplishments.”
Stacey is a therapist in private practice in the Jackson MS area and a recovering procrastinator. If you would like to make an appointment with Stacey at Grace Christian Counseling in Canton, MS or Vicksburg, MS please call the office 601-636-5703