“My advice to you is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”
- Charles Dickens
I have a project I’m working on but why not put in on hold to watch a movie? The dishes will be there when I return, let me go catch some sleep. Oh boy, I’m running late to the gym, why don’t I leave it for the weekend. I need to finish this book but first let me update my Facebook/Twitter page. This is an act we all indulge in; I am equally guilty of it. How many times have we put a project on hold because we found it less exciting or pleasurable? How many times have we caught ourselves postponing an activity for some other time because you suddenly lost interest in it? Ever had to reschedule a meeting for another day? You pick up a pen to begin a story but then you put it away because you find it daunting.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to procrastinate means “to delay something until a later time; it means to intentionally put off something that should be done.” This could be a house chore, a school project, drafting a memo or writing a story. Most of the time this ‘putting off’ occurs when people perceive the task as daunting or less pleasurable. When this happens, they opt for a more pleasurable one or a task which is less time consuming. Other causes include loss of interest, loss of motivation, workload, lack of confidence, lack of focus and fear of failure just to mention a few. For many, this has become a habit; one they cannot do without.
Here are four ways to deal with procrastination:
- Just start
It is said “that the best way to get something done is to begin.” There will never be ‘perfect time’ so you might as well just get on with it. Most people procrastinate because they are worried about how they will pull it through and how long it is going to take them to finish the project. But you know what? You will never be sure of how much time it is going to take until you start. Rather than worry about how long it will take you to finish a book, just get on with it and start writing! If you want to start a business, register for an online course, wash the dishes, mow the lawn, write a book or work on a project, just start. There will never be a better time than now.
- Break it down
Dealing with a big project or having so much work to do can be daunting and stressful especially when it is a less exciting project. So if you have a chunk of work to do – let us say, write a book, submit a proposal and wash the dishes, you can opt to write just a page of the book; that way you give yourself more time to do the others thus, eliminating the need to procrastinate. If you are in the position to delegate some tasks, you can do that as well. The important thing here is to break down those chunky tasks into smaller and much exciting tasks. Rather than write a book, start with a page; if you are trying to get the house cleaned, start by arranging your bed or dusting the table.
- Fuel your motivation
You are most likely to procrastinate when you are not feeling motivated. The big question is ‘what about the project or task motivates you?’ Motivation helps keep you going so if it is for a raise, an approval, to put a smile on the face of someone, to inspire someone, to feel good or even to have more space, use it as your source of motivation to guide you.
- Clear your space
You will be surprised to find out how many people procrastinate because of too much clutter. Most people cannot work in a cluttered environment. One way to beat procrastination is to clean your workplace – get rid of the distractions (phone, television or magazines); tidy up your table and get to work!