Facts about procrastination and tips on how to stop it!
Did you know that based on studies, 80% to 95% of college students in the United States procrastinate to some degree? 50% of these students say that they procrastinate in a consistent and problematic way. In another survey, 15% to 20% of adults chronically procrastinate. Although it may be prevalent among students, the fact that it exists means that it can affect other people. Are you a procrastinator?
In this blog, let’s define what procrastination is, identify the common procrastinators, and discover the ways how we fight being one.
Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions. For example, you were tasked to complete a project in two weeks, and you keep on postponing it until you are close to the deadline, despite the fact that you have intentions of working on it.
We can all relate to this. At some point in our lives, we have experienced putting off things on our to-do list for different reasons. Often times we criticize ourselves for not being diligent enough to start the project. But why do we fall into this trap? It is because we (believe it or not) lack good habits and systems. Still not convinced? Check out this flow chart from Medium.com, which illustrates the 6 steps of procrastination.
Looks familiar? If you can relate to at least one of those, then you are a procrastinator. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. We have solutions!
Let’s first identify what triggers us to stay still and not do anything. A more common theory is that procrastination occurs when there is a lack of discipline. This is for the fun-loving and pro-leisure type who would always choose fun over hard work. When good habits and systems are not in place, we get easily distracted and lose focus on what we should accomplish.
According to lifehack.org, there are 5 common types of procrastinators:
1. The Perfectionist
These are the people who love to pick on the small details and struggle when they do not get them right (to their standard).
2. The Dreamer
These people are highly creative. They are good at making elaborate plans, however, they find it hard to actually execute and accomplish them.
3. The Avoider
Let’s all welcome the worriers! They avoid doing a task because they are consumed with their fear that the task is bigger than what they can actually handle.
4. The Crisis-Maker
As the deadline comes close, they start the work and believe that they work well and better under pressure, creating a lot of time management-related issues.
5. The Busy Procrastinators
They either have too much on their plate or refuse to work on the tasks that they feel are unworthy of their time. They are conflicted with creating their priorities because they don’t know what to choose and simply postpone making decisions.
Do you identify with any of these?
Let’s check out these three major keys according to an article from Harvard Business Review to help us turn our procrastination into productivity:
Acknowledge your habits (or lack thereof) and start building effective ones.
Recognize your current habits first. Be critical in this aspect for yourself so that you can effectively evaluate what habits you need to form. Then build on the behavior of following a consistent schedule for your long-term projects, you build your attitude in executing your tasks. We know that these projects normally take a lot of time and effort, are not easy, and would possibly include several hurdles. But if you have a clear and strict schedule, it will lessen the burden as your actions become more automatic. Consequently, creating new tasks should not be neglected as these will set the tone of the whole project. Devise a system that will enable you to action the tasks. How to do this? Reverse the process. Think of the most challenging issue that you could encounter for a task. Identify the factors and how you can accomplish it, focusing on not having the issue occur.
Be mindful of your emotions – avoidance of tasks usually happens when you don’t want to stir up negative emotions.
Oftentimes, we tend to push back because it wakes different demons in our emotions that we have fought so hard to vanquish. Like it or not, experts highly recommend seeking professional advice when we feel depressed or vulnerable, much so if it affects how we perform as individuals and professionals. Acceptance is the key to liberating ourselves from these confusions and bad thoughts. Try hard not to tie any feelings into your task. Avoid making it personal. Identify the emotions that you feel hinder you from starting a task.
Polish your thought patterns.
Sometimes, we become our own hurdle, which is why we need to revisit how we think and the patterns that we follow. To know more, ask yourselves these questions: (1) Does the task feel more difficult than the steps and given my abilities? (2) Is there a feeling of achievement when the task has started? If you answered yes, then it means that you tend to recognize more of the unpleasant feelings rather than focusing on the task at hand. To help in reframing our thoughts, we need to determine the steps in completing a task and compare them with the ones that we have already done which we found are easy. Then accept that tasks entail conflicts. Tasks that do not have any friction do not mean that they are smooth and easy.
Lastly, instead of working for hours on a task, why not try to keep it to a minimum. Again, habit formation is important. Start by setting a specific period to work. Let’s say, 10 AM for 20 mins. Whatever you have finished during that period is your product for that project for the day. Then come back and do it again the next day at the same time. Then as you progress, limit your work period to a maximum, say 2 hours, and completely stop the task at that mark for the day.
At the end of the day, you matter. Find a system that works for you and build on that. Create better habits that allow you to accomplish more. Go and start that project!