I will not even ask you if you have procrastinated in the past because I know you have but I will ask you: Do you still hesitate or wait before making a decision or taking action on something that will potentially create progress in your life?
You see, procrastination is defined as the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time. That means that if you are procrastinating… you are selling your dreams and aspirations short.
Some time ago I started noticing that I would procrastinate on some tasks – like this blog you are reading; I actually had 80% of it done a long time ago but I put it off for some reason. Do you ever put of something important that you could do today for a later time? Why is that? Well, I had to look into it further because I know that this is a habit that affects the success of millions of people.
You see, we have enormous potential to accomplish amazing things in our lives and too often because of the lack of clarity or inner power – we hesitate, doubt or fear ourselves out of the life we could have. But before we settle with this negative habit that causes us disappointments, stress, unaccomplished goals and decreases our self-confidence let’s break it down and then identify what we can do to start regaining that inner power and remove procrastination out of our lives once and for all.
Freud’s “Pleasure Principle” states that we tend to avoid pain and seek pleasure in order to satisfy our biological and psychological needs. One theory is that we procrastinate because we are avoiding the pain of doing that which we are putting off. Others say that we procrastinate as a mechanism of coping with the anxiety of starting or completing a task. Yet others say that we will delay on doing a task not on the anxiety of the task but on the impulsiveness of our nature towards anxiety – meaning, anxiety will cause delays only if we are impulsive.
I would summarize procrastination as an unconsciously developed habit that stems from hesitancy around the unknown or the avoidance of the uncomfortable. Regardless of the causes, it is up to you to take full responsibility for your actions and to not let procrastination eat away at your potential.
At the end of the day, a practiced behavior becomes a habit and the habit, just by the nature of it, will reinforce itself thus making it difficult to change but don’t lose hope – we can change!
Here are 10 things that you can start doing today to break your habit of procrastination.
- Make a list of everything you have to do – Keep an updated list and look at it every day.
- Write a statement of intention – For example, “Today I promise myself I will clean out the garage”.
- Set realistic goals – Like, I will complete the first page of my paper due next month instead of I will finish my 10 page paper by tomorrow.
- Break it down into specific tasks – Clarity gives you more a road map that makes it easier to follow.
- Make your task meaningful – At the end of the day, you must care about doing what you set out to do, if not – you will find it hard to have the energy to finish the task.
- Promise yourself a reward – If I organize the room today I will treat myself to the movies tomorrow.
- Eliminate tasks you never plan to do. Be honest with yourself!
- Estimate the amount of time you think it will take you to complete a task. Then increase the amount by 50%. – Give yourself breathing room.
- Develop time-management skills – Try a planner, your computer, post-it notes, a list, and alarms with reminders but don’t give up – you will find a system that works for you.
- Lastly, ask yourself: does it depend on me to do or does the task have other contingencies? Sometimes it’s not just up to you to complete something – in those cases you must learn to do what you can and give up control.
Les Brown once said that “There is nothing as powerful as a made up mind. Do not give yourself another excuse to put off making up your mind. You know in your heart of hearts that once you do that you have got to act. You owe it to the world, your family, and most importantly, to yourself to live a life of no regrets.”
Go out and make up your mind to take one or a few of these steps I mentioned above to get things done. You deserve to live your dreams. You deserve to accomplish your goals. If you decide to take this to heart and start building momentum by taking focused action without procrastinating, you will achieve more than you ever thought possible.
Please let me know how procrastination has affected you or how you have overcome it.
Do not wait to achieve tomorrow what you could achieve today.