It took a long time for me to realize I was a procrastinator. Typical, I even procrastinated diagnosing myself! When I finally did so I bought a book about it (‘Procrastination’ by Jane B. Burka & Lenora M. Yuen, both Psychologists).
It is a very comprehensive book and I read several sections of it. One day I’m sure I’ll read the whole thing…Oops, did you notice? Here I go again, put it off till later.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I’ve been very busy with all sorts of little projects: I read my emails, watched training videos and courses I bought a while ago. I read posts put on in our special Facebook Group about Internet Marketing and leave comments and I attend training webinars as well.
Yes but…were this urgent, vital tasks? No, not really. So why do I do this? If you found yourself doing the same thing why do you do it? Now we are getting to the crux of the matter.
Here are some possible reasons mentioned in the book: lack of confidence that you will be able to complete the task successfully; expecting that the task will be difficult and frustrating; the end-goal is too far down the line; finding it difficult to stay on task (disciplined to work steadily).
Naturally there will be consequences of this tendency to postpone or avoid certain tasks. These may be ‘external’, for example being disciplined or sacked by your employer,; failing to complete a College Degree or serious financial problems (by failing to heed payment demands).
Of course there are also ‘internal’ consequences, such as self-criticism, feelings of failure and/or depression, or anxiety. This in turn may lead to unhelpful coping strategies, such as drinking too much.
How do we get out of this vicious circle? The first step is always to confront the problem and admit that we are procrastinators. Then we can make a list of the tasks we have avoided and separate them out in to different areas. For example I have several outstanding DIY-jobs that have needed attention over the last 2yrs and I have a large garden that needs sorting as well, etc.
Next, as the book suggests, break tasks up in to smaller steps and set achievable goals for them. Reward yourself for completing your tasks. I find I get a lot of satisfaction out of that even when it is as simple as congratulating myself (which I will be doing after completing this post!).
Be especially aware of your own excuses, for example before writing an article (e.g. ‘I don’t feel like it’, ‘I need to read more about it before doing it’, ‘maybe I should go to the gym first’, etc.).
Bringing more structure in to my activities has helped me as well because I tick off those completed tasks, which gives a visual record of progress. There is hope for us poor procrastinators, so don’t put off changing your behaviour. You’ll feel much better for that, and, become successful as well.