Put Procrastination in it’s Place
Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill. – Christopher Parker
But is it really any fun? In a world where we’re all so overwhelmed and time poor, procrastination can mean the difference between marching in place and creating the life you’ve always dreamed of…
What is Procrastination?
According to Google: Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something.
It’s an active decision that you make to avoid doing something. Like putting on a load of washing, making a cup of tea or emptying the dishwasher instead of sitting down to finish your work.
It’s a concept that a lot of my clients struggle with, and I did too, for a long time. But understanding why we procrastinate is the first step to placing the problem in our rear vision mirror and getting on with our lives.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Google that question and you could easily spend the next three hours procrastinating with research on procrastination. I’m speaking from experience.
Over the past few years as I’ve simplified my life and work and helped others to do the same, I’ve come to realise that there are just three simple reasons:
Lack of Choice
If you’re like me, your first thought when someone says you SHOULD do something is to tell them to take a long walk off a short pier.
We as adult humans generally rebel against being told what we should and shouldn’t do, especially when it comes to our work. Shoulds turn tasks into burdens.
But here’s the thing… As adult humans, we have choice. We don’t HAVE TO do anything. We can choose to, or not.
We don’t have to pay tax, but we choose to in order to stay on the right side of the tax man.
We don’t have to cook dinner for our families, but we choose to because we care about them.
We don’t have to get out of work in the morning to go to work, but we choose to because we want to earn an income so we have the money to pay for the things we want to buy.
Our lives are not full of “have to’s”, they’re full of choices.
If you don’t want to do something, and you’re happy with the consequence, then don’t waste your life procrastinating. Decide not to do it and move on.
Lack of Clarity
Another reason we procrastinate is because we’re uncertain about the task. Whether that uncertainty lies in the goal or purpose of the task. Or in the next steps actions that need to be taken to get it done.
If this is where you’re stuck then spend five to ten minutes doing research or a brain dump on what needs to be done and why.
Then you can get in and make it happen. Or decide it’s not so important after all, choose not to do it and move on.
Lack of Self Care
Unsurprisingly, this is the main reason I see people procrastinate, and used to indulge in it myself.
For many of us that ran our own businesses pre-COVID, we had partners and families who would complain and point out our overworking habits. However it’s now a lot more acceptable for employees with flexible work-from-home arrangements to work after hours, evenings and weekends.
This “always on” mentality also makes it a lot easier to skip the sick day and continue working.
And therein lies the problem… When we’re tired, sick or unwell we need rest, not work.
Pushing through and working when sick or tired is like working while distracted. You might get the task done, but you’re not going to produce your best work.
It’ll likely take twice as long, you’ll be more prone to mistakes, your creativity will be in the toilet and your results, less than average.
Human beings are not designed to function at high levels for sustained periods of time. Ensure you take adequate time to rest and engage in activities that nurture your physical and mental health.
So next time you feel the familiar pull to waste your precious time in procrastination use the time instead in a productive way. Make a decision, get clear on the task and take good care of your health instead.