Beat Procrastination: Do It Today, Not Tomorrow

Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks. So, whether you refer to it as procrastination or something else, it is the force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do. The word Procrastination has origin from the Latin procrastinatus, which itself evolved from the prefix pro-, meaning “forward,” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow.” It could be further stated as a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences. It is a common human experience involving delay in everyday chores or even putting off salient tasks such as attending an appointment, submitting a job report or academic assignment, or broaching a stressful issue with a partner. Although typically perceived as a negative trait due to its hindering effect on one’s productivity often associated with depression, low self-esteem, guilt and inadequacy, it can also be considered a wise response to certain demands that could present risky or negative outcomes or require waiting for new information to arrive. From a cultural and a social perspective, students from both Western and non-Western cultures are found to exhibit academic procrastination, but for different reasons. Students from Western cultures tend to procrastinate in order to avoid doing worse than they have done before or from failing to learn as much as they should have, whereas students from non-Western cultures tend to procrastinate in order to avoid looking incompetent, or to avoid demonstrating a lack of ability in front of their peers.] It is also important to consider how different cultural perspectives of time management can impact procrastination. For example, in cultures that have a multi-active view of time, people tend to place a higher value on making sure a job is done accurately before finishing. In cultures with a linear view of time, people tend to designate a certain amount of time on a task and stop once the allotted time has expired. Procrastination is one of the main barriers blocking you from getting up, making the right decisions and living the dream life you have thought of. Recent studies have shown that people regret more the things they haven’t done than the things they have done. In addition, feelings of regret and guilt resulting from missed opportunities tend to stay with people much longer. Sometimes all our opportunities seem to be on our fingertips, but we can’t seem to reach them. When you procrastinate, you waste time that you could be investing in something meaningful. If you can overcome this fierce enemy, you will be able to accomplish more and in doing so better utilize the potential that life has to offer. Procrastination is often confused with laziness, but they are very different. Procrastination is an active process – you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing. In contrast, laziness suggests apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act. Procrastination usually involves ignoring an unpleasant, but likely more important task, in favor of one that is more enjoyable or easier. But giving in to this impulse can have serious consequences. For example, even minor episodes of procrastination can make us feel guilty or ashamed. It can lead to reduced productivity and cause us to miss out on achieving our goals. If we procrastinate over a long period of time, we can become demotivated and disillusioned with our work, which can lead to depression and even job loss, in extreme cases.
Recent studies have shown that people regret more the things they haven’t done than the things they have done. In addition, feelings of regret and guilt resulting from missed opportunities tend to stay with people much longer.
How to Overcome Procrastination
Step 1: Recognize that you are Procrastinating
You might be putting off a task because you’ve had to re-prioritize your workload. If you’re briefly delaying an important task for a genuinely good reason, then you aren’t necessarily procrastinating. However, if you start to put things off indefinitely, or switch focus because you want to avoid doing something, then you probably are.
You may also be procrastinating if you:
• Fill your day with low-priority tasks.
• Leave an item on your To-Do list for a long time, even though it’s important.
• Read emails several times over without making a decision on what to do with them.
• Start a high-priority task and then go off to make a coffee.
• Fill your time with unimportant tasks that other people ask you to do, instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
• Wait to be in “right mood,” or wait for the “right time” to tackle a task.
Step 2: Work Out WHY You’re Procrastinating
• You need to understand the reasons why you are procrastinating before you can begin to tackle it.
• For instance, are you avoiding a particular task because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take steps to get it out of the way quickly, so that you can focus on the aspects of your job that you find more enjoyable.
• Poor organization can lead to procrastination. Organized people successfully overcome it because they use prioritized To-Do Lists and create effective schedules . These tools help you to organize your tasks by priority and deadline.
• Even if you’re organized, you can still feel overwhelmed by a task. Perhaps you have doubts about your ability and are worried about failing , so you put it off and seek comfort in doing work that you know that you’re capable of completing.
• Some people fear success as much as failure. They think that success will lead to them being swamped with requests to take on more tasks.
• Surprisingly, perfectionists are often procrastinators. Often, they’d rather avoid doing a task that they don’t feel they have the skills to do, than do it imperfectly.
• Another major cause of procrastination is poor decision-making. If you can’t decide what to do, you’ll likely put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing.
Step 3: Adopt Anti-Procrastination Strategies
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that you probably can’t break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them, so try as many of the strategies, below, as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
• Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past. Studies show that self-forgiveness can help you to feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.
• Commit to the task. Focus on doing, not avoiding. Write down the tasks that you need to complete, and specify a time for doing them. This will help you to proactively tackle your work.
• Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a treat, such as a slice of cake or a coffee from your favorite coffee shop. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
• Ask someone to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle behind self-help groups. If you don’t have anyone to ask, an online tool such as Procraster can help you to self-monitor.
• Act as you go. Tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up over another day.
• Rephrase your internal dialog. The phrases “need to” and “have to,” for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage . However, saying, “I choose to,” implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.
• Minimize distractions . Turn off your email and social media, and avoid sitting anywhere near a television while you work!
• Aim to “eat an elephant beetle” first thing, every day! Get those tasks that you find least pleasant out of the way early. This will give you the rest of the day to concentrate on work that you find more enjoyable.
If you procrastinate because you’re disorganized, here are six strategies to help you get organized:
1. Keep a To-Do List. This will prevent you from “conveniently” forgetting about those unpleasant or overwhelming tasks.
2. Prioritize your To-Do List using Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle . This will enable you to quickly identify the activities that you should focus on, as well as the ones you can ignore.
3. Become a master of scheduling and project planning. If you have a big project or multiple projects on the go and you don’t know where to start, these tools can help you to plan your time effectively, and reduce your stress levels.
4. Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times . Do you work better in the morning or the afternoon? Identify when you’re most effective, and do the tasks that you find most difficult at these times.
5. Set yourself time-bound goals . Setting yourself specific deadlines to complete tasks will keep you on track to achieve your goals, and will mean that you have no time for procrastination!
6. Use task- and time-management apps. There are numerous apps designed to help you to be more organized.
(The author a teacher by profession is presently posted at Government High School Brakpora in Anantnag district. Views are his own)
bhat.hilalahmad32@gmail.com

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