Believe it or not, procrastination is the silent dream killer. William James eloquently stated, "Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." In this article, you will learn how to stop procrastination, understand what procrastination is and learn how to become more focused and action driven. As a result, you’ll find a way to live your dream life.
Video: Power and Success Ministries partners with top psychologist regarding ways to breaking procrastination. If you're looking to break free from procrastination, watch the video and then read the rest of this article.
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“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV).”
Every individual, at one point or another, has struggled with procrastination. Sometimes this delay is for good reasons, and others, well, not so convincing. If you are looking for ways to stopping procrastination’s control in your life, then there are some serious, but simple, steps that you will need take.
Procrastination Psychology: What is procrastination, anyway?
Several mediums commonly define procrastination as, “the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline.” Some researchers have ventured to define procrastination as a, “form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potential negative consequences.”
Basically, and simply put, procrastination is putting off what you should do now at a later time. It’s doing something (usually more fun), than the arduous or unfulfilling tasks. Some would call this behavior arrogant because it insinuates that tomorrow or later is always promised. As you know time is an expensive commodity, which we do not have in large quantities. Thus, it shouldn’t be wasted or misused.
If you’re suffering from procrastination, you should find temporary comfort in knowing an interesting truth. According to research by Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and the prominent author of “Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting it Done,” approximately 20% of adults in the United States are chronic procrastinators.
Does this mean that 80% of people found a way to stop procrastination? No necessarily. Those 20% suffer from chronic procrastination, which means, they can’t get anything, whereas, the others may have periodic procrastination—getting things handled and seeing them through inconsistently. There a more than 20% that have those issues. And quite frankly, it’s normal, to an extent.
What causes procrastination?
The main psychological reasons behind our procrastination is as follows:
· Seeking sensation or fulfillment
· Lack of energy
· Lack of motivation
· Depression or anxiety
· Perceived lack of control
· Fear of failure
· Fear of negative feedback
· Being a perfectionist
· Averting tasks
· Feeling overwhelmed
· Lack emotional tie to future self
· Rewards or results aren’t immediate
· Abstract goals
People often assume that procrastination rests in willpower alone, but in reality, this condition is more complex.
Usually, when faced with a decision to complete a task or see a goal to its completion, we rely on our self-control as an aid to push ourselves to get things done. Self-control helps, but we need to be charged or motivated to do what we’re putting off. The truth of the matter is, the more averse you find a task, the more likely you are to procrastinate. It’s just that simple.
Therein lies the question. If I’m struggling with procrastination, what do I need to do to overcome it or stop it?
Before we address the how, let’s make sure that you know the difference between procrastination and laziness.
Procrastination vs. Laziness
Many people confuse procrastination with laziness, but these two traits are very different.
Remember, procrastination is an active process—you choose to do something else instead of the task or activity that you’re putting off. Laziness, on the other hand, suggests apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to do anything. See the difference?
Procrastination usually involves ignoring a non-fun or unpleasant task in favor of something more fulfilling. Yet, giving in to this impulse can drive you to feeling guilty or even ashamed. Reflect over you own life. Was there a dream or desire you wanted to fulfill? And then later, you felt a little bad because you didn’t make any moves to making it happen?
If we procrastinate over a long period of time, we may become demotivated and disillusioned with our purpose in life, which can lead to depression and even a loss of zeal.
3 Steps to Stopping Procrastination
As with most “bad” habits, it is possible to stopping procrastination before it gets too out of control. Follow the steps below to help you deal with and prevent procrastination.
Step 1: Accept The Fact You’re a Procrastinator
No one wants to admit if they’re something that feel derogatory. Right? Yet, one of the best ways to stopping procrastination is to admit that you struggle with procrastination. For example, if you find yourself switching your focus to avoid doing a task, then you are a procrastinator.
Here’s a list of signs that’ll reveal if you’re a procrastinator.
· Fill your day with low priority and easy tasks?
· Leave items on your To-Do list for long periods of time, saying you’ll do it eventually?
· Read emails, texts and social media posts?
· Begin a high priority task, then leave to do something else?
· Wait to get in the “right” mood before starting?
Being a procrastinator isn’t necessarily the issue. It’s staying one that will cause problems in your life, such as having unfulfilled dreams and goals.
Step 2: Understand WHY You Procrastinate
If you’re going to stop procrastinating, it’s important that you understand why you’re doing so. Understanding the reasons you put off tasks will help aid you in a procrastination-stopping strategy.
For instance, do you find yourself avoiding a particular task or activity because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take steps immediately to get it out of the way quickly, so you can then focus on matters and tasks you enjoy.
One reason why people procrastinate is due to poor organization. Believe it or not, the lack of being organized can lead to your procrastination. Organized people successfully overcome this dream- and goal-killer because they use prioritized To-Do Lists and create effective schedules for themselves. These type of tools are key to helping you arrange your tasks in order of importance.
Perhaps you are organized, but still find yourself procrastinating. Perhaps then, your procrastination stems from having doubts about your ability and are worried about failing. And as a result, you put off things for a couple of days so you can wallow in some level of comfort.
Believe it or not, some people fear success as much as failure. For some reason, they think that achieving success will lead them to being swamped with more tasks or projects. Isn’t time to let this type of thinking go?
Interestingly, people who call themselves “perfectionists” are often the biggest procrastinators. Rather than complete assignments or tasks, they’d rather avoid them if they cannot do them perfectly.
Another major cause of procrastination stems from poor decision making. You can’t decide what to do, you’ll end up putting off taking action due to the fear of doing something wrong.
Warning: For some people, procrastination is more than a bad habit; it could be a sign of a more serious underlying health issue. For example ADHD and OCD, anxiety, and depression are all associated with procrastination.
Also, research suggests that procrastination can be a cause of serious stress and illness. So, if you suffer from chronic or debilitating procrastination, one of these condition could be the reason, and you should seek the advice of a trained professional.
Step 3: Procrastination-Stopping Strategies
Remember, procrastination is a habit—a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. As you didn’t develop it overnight, as with other habits you’ve developed, it’ll take time to break it. Habits only stop when you decide not to practice them, so try a combination of the following strategies that works best for you, and stay with them.
· Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past: Studies show that self-forgiveness can help you feel more positive about who you are and reduce the likelihood of procrastinating in the future.
· Commit to the task. The key here is to focus on doing, not avoiding. Jot down the tasks or activities that you need to complete, and attach a time for doing them. This will help you to proactively tackle those undesirable tasks.
· Reward yourself. Once you complete a difficult task, reward yourself with a treat. You choose the treat though, and when you do, notice how good the reward feels. This will get you in the practice of doing the hard stuff with ease.
· Get an accountability partner. Some people simply need a “buddy” to work with…it’s natural. Whether is working out, studying, etc., having an accountability partner helps keep you on track and aids in your achievement.
· Rephrase your internal dialogue. What you tell yourself daily will determine how you see situations. Phrases such as “need to” and “have to,” for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and may even lead to self-sabotage. Yet, but saying, “I choose to,” suggests that you own the task before you, and can make you feel more in control of your life.
· Minimize distractions. We’re inundated daily with advertisements, family demands and other bombardments that seek to take our attention. So, that being said, strive to minimize the amount of distractions you can control. For example, turn off the television, shut down social media and silence your phone so you can dedicate important time to getting things done!
Tip: An alternative approach to stopping procrastination is to adopt “the art of delay.” Research shows that “active procrastination”— that is, deliberately delaying getting started on a task so you can place attention on other urgent tasks—can make you feel more challenged and motivated to things done. This strategy may work particularly well if you’re someone who thrives under pressure.
Yet, if you choose to actively procrastinate, be sure to avoid putting others that such tasks impact from any unnecessary, unpleasant and unwanted pressure. Basically speaking, do those things that impact others.
10 Funny Procrastination Quotes to Help You Smile and Take Action
Hey, sometimes we get very caught up in our lives when it comes to procrastination. While you're transitioning to more of an action-taker, let these 15 procrastination quotes give you a few chuckles.
1. "I’m not procrastinating. I’m proactively delaying the implementation of the energy-intensive phase of the project until the enthusiasm factor is at its maximum effectiveness.”
2. "I put the PRO in procrastination."
3. "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done." - Rita Mae Brown
4. “I am a person who works well under pressure. In fact, I work so well under pressure that at times, I will procrastinate in order to create this pressure.” ― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
5. “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.” ― Mark Twain
6. “I’m going to stop putting things off, starting tomorrow!” ― Sam Levenson
7. “The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing.”
8. "Procrastination is a medical condition that I'm waiting to see if my doctor can prescribe a remedy; I have yet to make the appointment." -- Terence LaDon
9. “I think of myself as something of a connoisseur of procrastination, creative and dogged in my approach to not getting things done!” ― Susan Orlean
10. “Procrastination always gives you something to look forward to.” ― Joan Konner
For some people procrastination is a giant that’s hard to defeat. It has stood in the way of millions of people’s dreams and goals, especially yours. And as hard as it may seem, procrastination can be stopped.
Within you is the power to achieve the life you want as well as put an end to procrastination. If you need help, make sure to read Defeating Goliath. Inside this powerful book you’ll find key strategies to overcoming procrastination as well as many other personal and professional challenges.
Ellard Thomas is the founder of Power and Success Ministries--an organization dedicated to helping people with overcoming personal and professional challenges that prevent living a life of power and happiness.
It you'd like to get the best strategies to living a more fulfilling life, visit us here and like us on Facebook. Also, check out the book that's helping people conquer procrastination and other life problems.