There is a huge difference between “I have to do something” and “I am actually doing something”. I am pretty sure that you know what I am talking about. Nowadays people tend to postpone until the later time – the things they are supposed to complete now. There are various ways of justifying it. You can just do nothing and assure yourself that you still have sufficient time left or you can choose to do another thing instead which is more enjoyable for you. The reasons for postponing might be real or made up … like you are “too busy”, “too tired”, “still have lots of time” or simply “have something more important”. In any case, such a phenomenon is called “PROCRASTINATION”.
WIKI defines “procrastination as the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It could be further stated as a habitual/intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite its negative consequences”. So, do you think procrastination is good or bad? As procrastination is not an action but a process, let’s check what is going on in your head while procrastinating:
- False security
This stage is all about convincing yourself that it is not time to work, it is too early. “I have plenty of time to start/finish this task, it is time to relax now; I will definitely be on time, there is no rush and can work on it later”.
The second stage of procrastination is getting lazy. Even when the thoughts of working do appear in your head, you drive them away. “Maybe I have to start working, make some small steps, at least something… No, I am too tired now, will do it later, I have enough time”.
One of the funniest stages. You are trying to excuse yourself for doing nothing. Your brain can be quite inventive and excuses sound reasonable to postpone the necessary-to-do-thing. “I am too busy now with other tasks, and I need a rest. – My pet wants me to pay it more attention, I have to care for it. – Oh, I have to go shopping and buy a new can opener right now”.
At the fourth stage, the crisis is arising but it is still hidden. You understand that it might be too late and you’ll fail the task but your brain does not accept this. Hence it is trying to make you believe that you are able to do this and it is your choice. “I still have time. I wasn’t planning to sleep today. I want to have the 5th cup of coffee but it isn’t because I am trying to avoid sleeping and free up more time to work on the task, it is just my own craving for coffee”.
The last stage is the realisation of being too close to fail. You have the last night before the submission of your assignment and you understand how serious it is. You know about the consequences of the late submission or, what is even worse, a failure of the assignment itself. You decide to not procrastinate and do everything on time. You are in a panic and work hard but it may not work out as it can be too late by then.
The additional stage. You’ve finally completed the task and move on to another one. You’ve promised yourself to not postpone the important things until later but … it is a whole new task and you have plenty of time to finish it …
It is amazing how our brain works when we do not want to do the task. Some people fill guilty because of procrastinating, some people do not. There is an image shows the level of procrastination. Who are you? I am either non-procrastinator or super slacker. By the way, when you make all the tasks overnight, you feel that you are the Superman/superwoman and then realise that you are able to do much more… However, the wish to make is not lasting. You feel exhausted one day and sorry for yourself. At this point, you can start to procrastinate again.
One more thing you have to know. What are the reasons for procrastination?
- Avoidance of the tasks you do not like – you simply do not want to do the task because you have no interest in it. You have the obligation to do but no motivation. This is the reason why you are trying to find the meaning to postpone or to do another task instead of this one. You can make it more pleasant for you if the reason is found or hidden sense appears in the task.
- Fear to fail – it is more about perfectionists. These people tend either to do everything perfectly or run away from the task, finding any excuses to not to do it at all. Their standards are really high and they are afraid of completing the task worse than their unrealistic expectations were. In order to forget about this fear – start completing the tasks no matter what the outcome will be.
- Lack of knowledge/skills – if you are avoiding doing the task because of poor writing skills, for instance, you have to:
- admit you have this issue;
- improve the poor skill.
- When you know what the problem is – work on it. It is difficult only at the very beginning stage but it is a great pleasure to look back after all and witness that you have overcome your complicity.
- The huge task – when the task is enormous and you’ve decided to do that, you can suddenly realise that you are unable to complete. Hence your emotional state and the intentions to work hard will get ruined. There is a way to help yourself, just break the task into small parts.
- The unclear goals – it is obvious that if you have no idea why you should do something you will not have the wish to do that. The clear goals are what you need. You only need to set them and the understanding of doing the task will appear.
- Unfocus – everything can disturb you. So, you have to find the quiet place and get rid of all the distractions. The concentration on your task is the significant condition for successful completion.
This is everything I wanted to tell you today. Hope you have enjoyed the reading. The next article will be about overcoming procrastination and time management. I know that you’ve heard about, but I will try to explain it in my own special way and attempt making it easy to read. I am am looking forward to it!