Procrastination is one of those buzz
phrases that people use often, sometimes with a negative connotation,
other times with a shrug and a laugh like it’s just the way it is and
they are powerless to change it. Procrastination, itself, is never the
issue though. It’s just the symptom. So, I always help my clients
figure out what’s underneath the procrastinating behavior. This is
where the real opportunity for change exists.
Here are some of
the main causes of procrastination along with some steps you can take
to eliminate the behavior – if you choose!
Nothing is ever good enough so it feels less stressful to leave
projects pending. If you don’t finish you can’t be imperfect. Or, the
goal of perfection just feels too overwhelming and leads to paralysis.
Learn to let go! Perfection is not an achievable goal. Start with
some smaller tasks and make them good enough. Practice being okay with
good enough, a reasonable expectation. Notice how life does go on even
if things aren’t perfect. Feel good about lowering your stress! Keep
letting go of perfection for bigger and bigger projects. Continue to
notice how life goes on, work goes on and relationships are still
project isn’t even on the main radar screen. Or, there are too many
others. Adequate time is not allotted for the project or task because
there was no planning. It was not scheduled in with other priorities.
Or, it just takes too much time to find all of the pieces needed to
complete the project.
Spend the time necessary to get organized. Implement a filing system
for papers or digital files and track your tasks on a visual board or
spreadsheet. Check out TheTimesUp for great resources to help you get more organized.
If you say yes to everyone you become the go to person. At some point,
even with the best intentions, it becomes impossible to keep up with
the resulting work load.
Learn to say no. Keep in mind, every time you say yes to one thing you
are saying no to something else. Time is finite. You can not do
EVERYTHING! Be realistic about what you can accomplish and practice
some phrases that help you say no easily. An example is, “Sorry, I
just can’t right now.” Or, “I’ve met my volunteer commitments for the
month already. I am sorry.” Practice on some of the easier ones
You just don’t know how to proceed. You don’t have the knowledge,
skills or abilities necessary right now. Or, maybe the directions
weren’t clear and you are afraid to ask for clarification.
If you don’t have the knowledge, skills or abilities then you just need
to start before the beginning. Figure out what you need to learn and
where you’ll get the knowledge then schedule that in first. Once you
have a better sense of how to do the job, get started! If you just
need clarification but are afraid to ask, get over it. Avoiding the
inevitable will just create more problems. At some point the person
who delegated the project to you will know that you didn’t understand.
If it’s after the deadline you’ll have double trouble!
You thrive on adrenalin so you artificially create a scenario where you
are bumping up against a deadline to create that rush. Some people
actually function best under these circumstances.
If this is you and you feel nothing but the rush. So, no stress or
ulcers, and you still get your work done, then the only fix is to stop
adding the negative connotation. Don’t beat yourself up about it or
get frustrated. Stop telling people you are a procrastinator. Just
accept that, “this is how I am; how I do my best work.” Own it,
embrace it and move on – at your own pace!