4 Tips for Dealing With Procrastination
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Never put off till tomorrow that which you can do today”. Procrastination is something everyone deals with.
So why do people procrastinate?
Some people procrastinate because of the intense adrenaline rush that comes from the stress of being pressed for time. It’s not unheard of for individuals to say that they do their best work when they are moments away from a deadline.
Others procrastinate because the task they face is unpleasant. A person’s better judgement might say that the 25 page paper should be started immediately. But then along comes other activities that are much more fun. Why clean the toilet when Dancing with the Stars is on? The temptation to avoid an unappealing task can be great.
There are people who procrastinate when they are afraid of an outcome. Children often do this when they get into trouble. They’re afraid of their parents’ reaction, and so hold off confessing as long as they can. Spouses have been known not to tell l their partners that they lost their job. Couples who are divorced or separated may hide this fact from their friends and family, waiting until ‘the right time’ to tell. This usually backfires, as you can imagine.
While some people feel like their procrastination is a part of who they are and they don’t wish to change this behavior, many others want to stop procrastinating. Here are some ideas to handle procrastination.
- Recognize it for what it is. It can be easy to explain away procrastination: I’ll call the plumber tomorrow – the leak isn’t that bad; I hate running in the cold so I’ll wait until tomorrow when it’s warm; my tooth doesn’t hurt too badly. I can see the dentist if it gets worse. If you want to deal with the behavior, you have to understand what it is. It’s not the weather or the fact that the tooth isn’t hurting too badly. The reasons go deeper, which takes us to #2.
- Understand what is at the root of the procrastination. Why are you putting off calling the plumber? Do you hate talking on the phone? Do you worry if you’ll be able to pay for the repairs? Do you hate exercising and dread running no matter what the weather? Are you afraid that you’ll need a root canal? Do you have a fear of dentists?
- Identify the potential consequences. The leak might get worse. Your toothache may become unbearable over the weekend, and you’ll end up in the ER. Your health problems may increase if you don’t begin exercising.
- Make a choice. Procrastination is a decision that you are making. Your fear of talking on the phone may be greater than your desire to have the shower not leak through the floor. You may feel better risking a trip to the ER for a dental emergency than facing your fear of dentists and seeing one today. You can reason it however you wish, but take responsibility for the consequences.
There are some people who are quite happy with procrastinating, and if it works for them, that’s great. If you’re not like that and your habit of procrastination stresses you out, do something different. Try the above steps and see what happens. You may find yourself changing the way you think and behave.
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Harmon, J. (2012). 4 Tips for Dealing With Procrastination. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 9, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-life/2012/09/4-tips-for-dealing-with-procrastination/