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Why Do You Procrastinate and What Can You Do About it?

By Nitin Bhatnagar, 23 June 2018

There is only one hour left in submitting the assignment and you are trying very hard to complete it but it seems as if you will miss the deadline. When you get convinced that you won’t be able to finish it, you start blaming yourself for wasting time earlier and for not started working when you could have.

We all must have experienced this type of situation when we avoided some work till the last moment due to several reasons. We might have wasted time by reading emails repeatedly without deciding as to what action is needed to be taken, going on coffee breaks or completing the tasks which could have been finished later.

1What is this type of behavior or phenomenon of avoiding a task is actually called?

This phenomenon is called ‘procrastination’. In simple words, procrastination is a process in which a person chooses to do other things instead of the task that he should do on priority. The reason for delaying the task may be inactivity, lethargy and unwillingness of the person to start the work.

What is this type of behavior or phenomenon of avoiding a task is actually called?

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2Are you also procrastinating?

As per Piers Steel, a researcher and speaker, almost 95% of the population of the world has procrastinated to some extent but here the question is whether you are also procrastinating and if yes, to what extent?

If you are procrastinating for a long time, it may make you demotivated and depressed which will be harmful for your personal as well as professional lives. Here are some signs of a person who procrastinates; match them with your behavior to find out whether you are also procrastinating or not:

  • Completing tasks which have low-priority while high-priority tasks are still pending
  • A task on to-do list is not completed for a long time now
  • Checking emails many times but not replying them
  • You go to have coffee/tea just after starting an important task
  • Waiting to get in “right frame of mind” or “right mood” to start a particular task

If majority of these signs match with your behavior, you are also one of those who procrastinates a lot.

Are you also procrastinating?

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3Find out why you are procrastinating

Now as it is confirmed that you are a habitual procrastinator, your next step should be to find out why you are indulged in this bad habit. Some people avoid a particular task because they feel that it is boring and tedious while others do it because they are doubtful about their abilities and have a fear of failure. Some people avoid a particular task because they are afraid of being successful in completing that task because then they will be assigned tougher tasks. One more reason can be poor decision-making as a person may be confused on how to start or what to do which will eventually result in avoiding the task under the fear of doing something wrong.

Find out why you are procrastinating

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4Harmful effects of procrastination

If a person keeps on procrastinating for a long time, there are chances that he will be detached from work which can further lead to depression and loss of job. In fact, as per a research, procrastination is no more just a bad habit but it is an indication of a health problem as anxiety, OCD, depression and ADHD are associated with procrastination. The research also says that procrastination can also result in some serious stress and sickness.

Harmful effects of procrastination

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Here are some tips on how to get rid of procrastination:

5Ask for forgiveness from yourself

You should forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past and promise yourself that you are not going to repeat the mistake in the future. A study has shown that forgiving for the mistakes done in past helps a person in feeling positive and increases the chance of not repeating the mistakes.

Ask for forgiveness from yourself

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6Remove the hurdles of your path

You already know that whenever a new task is assigned to you, you waste time in checking emails and visiting the social media sites rather than working on that task. So as you get a new task, make sure that you don’t visit these sites and the chances of you getting distracted decrease to a great extent.

Remove the hurdles of your path

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7Getting started is half battle won

As they say that getting started is half battle won, you should make sure that whatever happens, you will start working on the task immediately. Once you start the task, your mood will get uplifted and you will see that it is getting easy to pay attention on the work rather than getting distracted by the social networking sites and emails.

Getting started is half battle won

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8Divide your task in parts

Most of the times, we tend to get afraid by the huge size of task and begin to worry as to how we will complete it within the deadline. The best way to get rid of this fear is to divide your task into parts or phases and finish it phase by phase. Do keep a deadline for every phase so that you finish them in time. In this manner, it will become easy to work on the task and it will remove the fear as well.

Divide your task in parts

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9Choose the right environment

You need to have a disciplined approach towards work and the environment of your workplace should be distraction free. Keep yourself away from family, friends, television or music while working so that you can focus on your work and your mind doesn’t get diverted. You may choose your environment for work as per your requirement and convenience but do keep a disciplined approach.

Choose the right environment

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10Cherish achieving small goals

As we already asked you to divide your task in parts or phases and work accordingly, you should make sure that you finish each phase within its deadline and also celebrate a little on its completion. This will not only make you happy but it will also increase your confidence for working on the next phase.

Cherish achieving small goals

11Keep realistic goals

It is very important in life to set goals but the goals should be realistic and achievable. If you set unrealistic goals, you will feel sad on not achieving them and it will further demoralize you. While on the other side, achieving realistic goals will boost your morale and you will be more confident and aggressive in completing your work.

Keep realistic goals

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12Ask someone to keep on checking you

Self-monitoring is the best way to keep a track of your activities but sometimes when you feel that you may lose your focus, ask someone to come and check you at regular intervals. The person may be your near and dear one or a confidante from the office but make sure that he/she is responsible enough to keep a check on you.

Ask someone to keep on checking you

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13Keep the toughest jobs for your best time

Whether you work best in the morning or in afternoon, this is the question you need to ask yourself and find out at which time you are the most productive. Keep that time for tackling the toughest jobs as it will increase the chances of getting those tasks completed.

Keep the toughest jobs for your best time

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14Choose your self-talk properly

Talking to yourself is a good habit but you need to be careful about what you are talking. For example, if you keep on repeating that “I will not procrastinate” again and again, it may be harmful for you. This is because our mind tends to get attracted towards those things which you are telling it to avoid. Instead of negative talks, you should talk about your work in a positive manner.

Choose your self-talk properly

15Repeat these steps to stay away from procrastination

To save yourself from getting into the habit of procrastination in the future, remember the above strategies and bring them to work in your daily routine. If you try to understand, you will see that procrastination is all about emotions; if you can control them effectively, you don’t procrastinate but if you can’t control them, they control you.

Repeat these steps to stay away from procrastination

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