Everyone procrastinates from time to time – it’s human nature. We put off writing a report, calling potential clients, or starting what we consider a boring job.
Here are a few of the excuses we give:
I don’t have enough information.
I’ll have more time tomorrow.
I don’t feel like doing it.
I don’t have the time.
I can do it any time – just not now.
These excuses are code for something else. There’s usually a deeper reason why we don’t want to perform a task. Uncovering that issue can be a helpful tool to get things done.
The next time you find yourself procrastinating, take a few minutes and dig deeper to the real reason. Once you identify the actual cause, you’ll be more likely to get the task done and move on to bigger and better things.
Below are some of the underlying reasons why we delay doing a task.
- We lack the necessary skills. This is a common reason for task avoidance. It is easier (in the short run) to procrastinate rather than make the effort to seek out the training needed.
- We are afraid of doing a bad job. Fear of failure often stands in the way of completing a task. We would rather suffer the consequences of not doing the job at all rather than doing it badly. Starting a project at the 11th hour gives us a built-in excuse — we can always blame the poor outcome on not enough time.
- We think it needs to be perfect. Our initial expectations may be unrealistically high, preventing us from even starting. Inaction may actually help relieve the pressure of perfectionism.
- We don’t feel like it. There is always so much on our plates that it is easy to put off a task we do not like doing.
- We are waiting for the adrenaline rush that occurs at the last minute. You don’t have to be an “adrenaline junkie” to enjoy the surge of motivation that comes with an impending deadline.
- We ignore the consequences unless they are staring us in the face.
- We are making it personal. Perhaps…just maybe…we don’t like the boss or coworker who is associated with the task. Repeat after me, “I will not be passive aggressive at work. I will not be passive aggressive at work.”
When we decide to put off a task, we feel relief, at least at first. However, as the due date approaches, we experience increasing stress from the weight of the undone task. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop us from using delaying tactics and self-sabotaging behavior until the task is no longer avoidable.
7 Tips to Stop Procrastinating Even When You Really Want to Procrastinate
Whether you are an occasional or a chronic procrastinator, try a few of the following tips to get moving:
- Find and pursue training that will fill in any gaps in skills that are preventing you from accomplishing your job responsibilities.
- Aim for completion, not perfection. One completed, but imperfect, task is typically worth more than a series of half-completed ones.
- Plan your day ahead of time. Choose 2 to 3 tasks that must be accomplished that day that are your highest-value activities. Use your to-do list.
- Do the worse things first. Getting the distasteful tasks done is better than a day’s worth of dread.
- Schedule 15 minutes to begin a task you do not want to do. Or, just set a timer and start it. Manufacture your own deadline (ahead of the actual one) and enjoy the adrenaline.
- Divide an overwhelming project into small tasks and prioritize them.
- Give yourself a reward for finishing a task.
When you start a task right away, you receive a reward for your behavior – positive internal feedback that makes it worthwhile to do the task on time.
Have you been procrastinating contacting me about increasing your productivity? You know what to do.
Is perfectionism your productivity barrier?
Check out my online course, Unwrapping Perfectionism.
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.