I wanted to write an article on procrastination last month itself but somehow, I was not able to as I kept postponing it. Can you beat this?
Well! Like many of you out there, even I do have certain excuses ready in my excuse kitty
“I was focusing on something else!”
“I did not find time to write it.”
“My priority was something else”
All the above are true. I was indeed working on something else. Do I need to cover it up with colourful excuses? No! I don’t have to! Do I need to lie to myself that I did not actually procrastinate? Not at all! I am afterall, a non-procrastinator in progress.
Am I a procrastinator by nature? Not at all! It’s only that I prioritize my work depending on the need.
What I am actually trying to tell you is …
· Create a balance – between action steps which need immediate attention and those which can be done a little later.
· Create an environment for yourself where you become more accountable to yourself and your responsibilities
· Turn from a procrastinator to a prioritizer.
Procrastination can turn out to be a nasty bug if you do not learn to manage it effectively. Now, how can you actually go about it? Understand that the basic reason why you do procrastinate may not be laziness at all times. It could be some other underlying issue which you may not even be aware of.
You might even be beating yourself up for having postponed taking certain steps and also end up carrying a heavy burden at the back of your mind. This is actually not necessary at all!
Instead of a list of do’s and don’ts, I would like to share with you a simple process using which you can determine if you are really a procrastinator, at what level – basic, medium or chronic and also a few tips on how you can possibly overcome it.
Step 1 : Are You Genuinely Interested In The Task You Have In Hand?
Think of a few instances in your own life over the years …
During school, was there any subject which you did hate and kept postponing the studying part till the end?
Filing of income Tax returns – how enthusiastically do you do it every year? Do you complete it on time or push it till the end?
Is the microwave oven not working? How long does it actually take to get it repaired? Is it … wait … still not repaired?
Have you been postponing your annual health check-up?
Think of such simple daily life instances first and go higher up in the complexity level. More often than not, you would have procrastinated due to disinterest in the tasks.
Now, how do you overcome it? Make yourself understand it’s importance. Think of the quality time you get for yourself after completing it along with a sense of relief. These could be motivating factors to complete the same.
In his brilliant TED Talk, Tim Urban focuses on what goes on in the mind of a procrastinator and the role of the Instant gratification monkey for the same.
Step 2 : Are You Scared To Take The Next Step?
You may be genuinely interested but something is still stopping you in your track and you are putting off taking certain action steps.
Now, don’t beat yourself for not making sufficient progress. Something you fear might actually be the cause of your procrastination. First, find out what is it that you actually fear. Secondly, work on overcoming it. You will automatically stop procrastinating and take the required steps.
Let me give you a couple of examples …
You might be keen on shifting from your current career stream but you might still be postponing taking the appropriate steps. The result could probably be fear of the consequences to be faced on changing your career stream such as “What if I don’t succeed? I will not be able to go back to my previous career then …”
You might be keen on building your own house and for that, you need to purchase a site. However, you may still be putting it off “What if someone cheats me? I might lose all my hard-earned money!”
And so on …
What you do need to work on here is your fear factor, not the procrastination part. When you resolve your fear factor, the rest will eventually fall into place.
Leo Babauta has shared amazing insights on the fear factor and how to overcome it in his article.
Step 3 : Doubt/Assumption That Things Will Not Happen As You Wish
You have a certain dream and also a plan on how to go about it. However, a doubt/assumption is overcoming your dream when the time comes to take the required action step and you end up putting off your dream itself assuming it may not work at all.
Understand that the dream and the plan are both yours and you have absolute control over it. However, there are a lot more unseen factors and situations too which might actually aid your dream to turn it into a reality. You may be able to understand and analyse it to some extent but not fully. The trick here is to go ahead and take the first step. This way, you will enable certain unseen factors too in helping you realize your dream.
You may be able to see only a small percentage of the entire scenario. Hence, don’t make assumptions. Instead, be more practical and take positive steps without getting involved in blind risks. As you move further, you will eventually get to know the tougher challenges ahead and also the risks for which you will be mentally prepared by now and also know how to navigate through them.
Step 4 : You Might Be Lazy Afterall!
If the previous steps do not apply to you, this might! Even if you are a chronic procrastinator, you might have still read this article till this point because the title is “All Procrastinators Are Not Lazy!” which is certainly heartening to hear even though it does not apply to you!
Now, check with yourself again. Is laziness really the cause of your procrastination? I can give a certain judgement only about myself, not others! So, you are obviously your best judge!
If you are convinced that laziness is indeed the culprit, don’t get disheartened yet. There are still ways to go about it. You might not be intentionally lazy. That’s still there!
What could have probably happened is that you might not be aware of the consequences of your procrastination due to your own laziness. Explore that area!
Understand that if you do not work on a set of tasks or behaviours, it might actually be affecting those around you – your near and dear ones. They might be taking up additional tasks in their own hands and also tolerating your procrastinating behaviour which is certainly a huge strain on their minds.
Lack of progress from your side may be taking a huge toll on their peace of mind too. Explore that area. There is definitely a huge scope for a change in attitude in yourself and it will certainly not be surprising when you turn from a chronic procrastinator to a fabulous prioritizer.
All of the above are various steps of a simple process to overcome procrastination. Try it out and let me know how it has worked for you. If you can come up with an even better process, please do it by all means and share it with others too!
Overcoming procrastination is a life skill like many others and certainly not a one-off step. It is a step-by-step process. Work on it and you will end up thanking yourself profusely because a positive change is the best gift you can give yourself.
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Authored By Sushma Krishnan
Co-Founder, High Performance Alchemy