Overcome Procrastination

Shivanand Pandit , Last updated: 16 May 2016  

Procrastination is something that everyone deals with. According to psychologist Professor Clarry Lay, a prominent writer on the subject, procrastination occurs when there is “a temporal gap between intended behaviour and enacted behaviour.” That is, when there is a significant time period between when people intend to do a job, and when they actually do it. Many people postpone the inescapable pain for the contemporary moment of bliss.

Procrastination, the habit of putting jobs off to the last possible minute, can be a major snag or hurdle in both our career and our personal life. Major adverse effects of procrastination are missed opportunities, hysterical work hours, stress, engulf, hostility, and guilt. Procrastinators delay until the day after tomorrow what they know they should have done the day before yesterday. Procrastinators damage themselves. They put barricades in their own route. They actually select paths that hurt their performance. The act of procrastination always refers to a downbeat or negative act that diminishes performance and excellence of work.

Procrastination keeps us away from accomplishing what we really want to achieve in life. Procrastination, like all of our conduct carries consequences. Whether our behaviour is conscious or unconscious, we will eventually have to deal with the effects. It is only natural to procrastinate at times, but the way we deal with our procrastination will determine what effects procrastination has on our life. One of the most obvious outcomes of procrastination is the failure to harvest the rewards that would come from taking action. As the famous entrepreneur and businessman Victor Kiam once said, "Procrastination is opportunity's assassin.” Procrastination is predominantly caused by personality and mental state and can affect the procrastinators’ performance and healthiness. However, by identifying the reasons behind our lethargy, we can design a strategy to terminate our aggravation and to replace that with an inspirational attitude we can stick to.

Sometimes, we enjoy being a little lazy, such as after working hard for numerous hours, or on a very cold or warm day, but if this state occurs too often, something has to be done about it. In order to carry out our jobs or chores, work efficiently, live to the fullest, and achieve success, we must learn how to overcome procrastination.

Here are some ways to overcome procrastination:

Amputate distractions

Of all the possible strategies we can install for overcoming procrastination, the most efficient is definitely attempting to remove distractions that prevent us from getting work done. Once we start to strip these distractions we will find it much easier to get work done, and our output and time management capabilities will skyrocket.

Break tasks down into smaller pieces

One of the main reasons that people procrastinate is because the project that they need to tackle is so big, that they do not know where to start. This makes them feel plagued. What we need to do is break the project down into small pieces, so that they feel manageable and controllable.

Make the task more enjoyable

If the task that we need to get done is mind-numbing, it is very likely that we won’t want to get started. If this is the case, we have to find ways to make the task more pleasing. 

Deal with your Fear

Fear is the vital ingredient that encourages procrastination. This can involve a fear of failure, a fear of making mistakes, or even a fear of success. If we are afraid of success because we secretly believe that we don't deserve it, it is important to realize that our self-handicapping might be keeping us from achieving our goals. By addressing the fear that is keeping us from getting started, we can begin to overcome our procrastination habit.

Manage your Time

We have to use planners and diaries to organise our time. We have to set exact dates and times to begin, and continue, our work. Better to put up notes or signs in prominent places to remind that there is something that needs to be done. ‘Later’ is a really hard time to pin down!

Nurture discipline

We should build a routine of positive and negative fortification. We must reward ourselves for successes, and set up assured punishments for our failure. 

Know your thinking traps

We must try to think realistically about the task that we are avoiding. We should accept the task as a learning experience. Then we should reflect on what procrastinating is costing us in terms of our time, energy, effort and even money. This may help us to give some standpoint about the task we are putting off.

Focus on long term benefits

The common predisposition is to select instantaneous pleasure over long term benefits. Quick results often devoid of any real sense of achievement. Adopting a goal setting mentality will add a dimension of depth and contentment that can only be achieved by getting involved in a more complex process.

Embrace uncertainty 

The world is an uncertain place where few things are guaranteed. This means our desire for certainty is an irrational thought. Instead, we should see uncertainty as an exciting challenge.

To conclude, practically all of us procrastinate at one time or another. It is a frustrating habit. At worst, putting things off can ruin our dreams, and can cause stress, anxiety, depression, health difficulties, accidents, and problems with our friends and family. And if we live or work with someone else who does it, it can be equally hard. Procrastination is largely on us. We need to take the time to think why are we putting off this work, and we need to take the time to get to know ourselves, and how to get it done now. There are many reasons one begins to procrastinate, and it just takes a little thought to stop. Overcoming procrastination is choosing to make a better decision. Next time anyone is procrastinating, he or she should look for the missing decision.

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Shivanand Pandit
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