Procrastination. I think we’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another in our lives. You may ask, why do we do it? Well, let me think about it and I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Just kidding. There are two types of procrastination: actions, or putting off doing tasks you don’t enjoy, and decisional, which is putting off making decisions that are difficult to make. It might be because our priorities are mixed up and we lean toward doing things we enjoy, or we may not like dealing with conflict so we put off decisions. Some procrastination is inevitable, but if it becomes a habit or normal behavior it can actually cause tremendous amounts of stress and ultimately affect our health. In addition, it may put a strain on coworkers, family members and friends because it affects their work and lives, and resentment can set in.
Here are a few suggestions:
- First, take some time to understand why you procrastinate or what the cause might be. Yes, it means taking some time to really be self-aware.
- Revamp your to-do list. Only put the things on there you tend to put off doing. It feels good to cross things off your list.
- Projects that are complex with many parts can be overwhelming. Break it down into smaller more manageable pieces or delegate some of the work.
- If something is unpleasant or not enjoyable, but must be done, set up a reward system for completion of the unpleasant task. Tackle those tasks first and save the easier ones for last.
- So, your favorite television program is on and you have chores to do. Try getting up during commercials to switch the laundry, take out the kitchen trash, wipe down counters or even run the vacuum. You’d be surprised at what you can get done.
- Decision making can be difficult, and we can spend way too much time thinking about decisions we need to make. Set aside time each day for decision making and add a timeline to get them made.
- Being a perfectionist or the fear of failure can be big reasons to procrastinate. Think positive, visualize success and mentally practice the steps you need to take in order to succeed. Many top elite athletes do this mental practice as part of their regimen.
- We can easily become distracted by friends and coworkers or our computers and phones. If you are at work, set your workspace up to minimize distractions, and give yourself break time to do the things you want. At home, don’t turn on the television, and put down the devices until you get things done.
Procrastination can be a bad habit, but you can change. It is not a laziness problem; you may simply be drained of energy. Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating foods that help your body function at its best, and a little exercise will help, as well. If fatigue persists, you may want to check with your doctor to see if there are other underlying health issues that are causing it. When you feel healthy and have energy, procrastination just might become less of an issue.
Seaward, Brian Luke: Managing Stress, 3rd edition, Jones & Bartlett