Procrastination. We’ve all gone through it one way or another. For something that we know is bad yet happens frequently, you would think that it would be easy to manage by now. However, that is not the case. Procrastination happens everyday. Whether you need to write a paper, reply to emails or start a project, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of procrastinating until the very last minute.
If you’re struggling with procrastination and are seeking ways to manage it, this article is for you. Not only will this article provide techniques on anti-procrastination, it will also serve as a guide for you to understand why you procrastinate in the first place.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of postponing actions and decisions. When you procrastinate, you avoid attending to the things you need to attend to. You put off the task until you can no longer afford to. Instead, you do other things and seek distractions that will further delay you doing the things that need to be done.
One example of procrastination would be a student who has a paper to write and submit in order to pass his class. Even though he knows that he needs to work on his paper and meet the deadline, he decides to procrastinate by playing games until he has an hour or so left until submission. He submits a crammed, last-minute paper that he cannot assure would grant him a passing remark for the class.
Regardless of occupation, everybody procrastinates or has procrastinated something. Although people excuse procrastination with their ability to work well under immense pressure, more often than not, procrastinating leads to crammed, last-minute outputs that may appear rushed and are likely to have mistakes.
In the long term, procrastinating can turn into a habit. If you’re not actively working on understanding and managing how, why and when you procrastinate, it can lead to unpleasant outcomes. You may be prone to submitting sub-par outputs or submitting past the deadline. You also create unnecessary stress over things that appear to be difficult. Having a habit of procrastinating may also affect the way you see yourself and your work ethic, which can affect others as well. Not only does procrastination hinder your productivity, it may also hinder you from achieving your goals.
Why do I procrastinate?
Even though people know it’s bad to procrastinate, we still do it. Why is that? When people are given tasks, it’s common for people to feel overwhelmed. A person may think that it’s too complicated, he/she is not capable of doing it, or that it’s taxing to do. Naturally, people avoid things that make them unhappy. Having a negative perception and attitude towards an action or decision becomes a demotivating factor, which discourages a person to do something.
Another reason why people procrastinate is because of hindering factors. Some examples of hindering factors are distracting environments, exhaustion (physical, mental or emotional), burnout, lack of time and having too many things to do (“biting off more than you can chew”).
Procrastinating can be a habit. Since they have accomplished something with limited time, people think they could do it again. Although this may work temporarily, it is not a healthy way of doing things, especially when the procrastination leads to harmful effects on yourself and others.
Common reasons why people procrastinate are because it makes them anxious, they have a fear of failing, they feel pressured to do things perfectly right away, they are overwhelmed with what to do, they lack energy, etc. Overcoming procrastination seems loaded, but it is possible.
How do I stop procrastinating?
The short answer is to actually start working. It’s easy to get caught up on thinking about doing something rather than actually doing it. Once you’ve overcome your hesitation to start a project, the task becomes less intimidating.
To stop procrastinating, you need to understand when, how and why you procrastinate. People usually procrastinate when they have a big project and they are overwhelmed by it. Typically, people procrastinate by seeking distractions such as going out with friends, watching videos, playing games or eating out. Once you’ve learned more about your procrastinating tendencies, you’ll become aware of the things you’ll need to address.
Although one’s reasons for procrastinating may differ, here are some common anti-procrastination techniques.
A common dilemma when one procrastinates is figuring out where to begin. Understand what you need to do and break the work into more digestible sections. When you accomplish these “smaller” tasks, you’ll feel more accomplished. Not only does this lessen the pressure you feel, but also this motivates you to continue working.
Manage your time.
Improving your time management skills will greatly help you in overcoming procrastination. Making a to-do list will help you lay out the things that need to be done vs. the things that do not.
A common time management technique is the Pomodoro Technique. This technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, uses a timer to break down work into intervals of 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This time management technique makes the work more manageable. Since the work is broken down into intervals, the person becomes set on working during that 25 minute period knowing that there is a period of rest that follows it. The Pomodoro Technique motivates the person to be more productive and lets the person feel more fulfilled since the 25 minute interval is realistic and attainable.
Establish a routine
Have a tidy and designated work area, write your to-do list, set deadlines for yourself, turn off notifications, have a timer ready and do the Pomodoro Technique. Having a routine is very helpful because it prepares you to do the work. Having a conducive environment to work in helps motivate a person to be more productive.
Overcoming procrastination is difficult, but it is manageable with these techniques. Although it may seem intimidating, remember that it is possible. What matters the most is that you start.
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