Why We Procrastinate and How to Avoid It
How often have you tried to start something only to put it off until later? Are you afraid of starting something new because you don't want to fail or get hurt?
Procrastination is a common problem that occurs when someone delays initiating tasks that he wants to complete. It can come from fear, lack of confidence, or laziness. The result is a feeling of anxiety, stress, and tension. If you haven't started working on your goals yet, procrastination is probably holding you back. Once you realize why you procrastinate, you'll be able to figure out ways to overcome it.
In this article, we'll explore some of the reasons why we procrastinate and how to overcome this problem.
Procrastination is delaying something without any good reason. Common examples include putting off paying bills, cleaning the house, writing reports, studying, exercising, doing chores, and even working on personal goals. At its core, procrastination comes down to poor self-discipline. When we put off doing what needs to be done because we feel overwhelmed, bored, stressed, unmotivated, or distracted, we are being lazy.
This question might seem obvious but many people often procrastinate due to their inability to focus on tasks. If this is the case then it would be best to address this issue first. This could mean setting aside time where we work alone on our projects, or it may mean getting some much-needed help from someone else. There are also other reasons why we procrastinate including feeling overwhelmed, having too many things going on at once, and lack of motivation and energy.
Here are a few reasons why we procrastinate:
#1. Fear of Failure
Many people try to avoid doing something because they think they might fail. This may seem counterintuitive since many people don't want to fail; however, failing isn't always bad! Failure helps us learn and better prepare for future tasks. Additionally, failure doesn't mean that you did anything wrong or that you should give up. It only means that you didn't fully reap the benefits of what you were trying to achieve.
#2. Lack of Motivation
When you lack the motivation to do something, you tend to procrastinate. If you aren't motivated, then you probably won't complete your task. If you haven't found any reason to motivate yourself to do the task at hand, ask yourself why you're doing it. Is it because someone else expects you to do certain things? Or maybe you just enjoy completing a project or experience? Either way, you should identify the reason behind your procrastination. Once you have a clear idea, you'll be able to figure out how to overcome it.
#3. Lack of Knowledge
Procrastination is often caused by a lack of knowledge or understanding. Sometimes we don’t know enough about what we want to achieve or how to do so, especially if it involves learning something new. Other times we may not understand the consequences of taking action versus doing nothing. This lack of knowledge leads to us avoiding the necessary steps to accomplish what we desire.
#4. Negative Emotions
Another reason we procrastinate is that we are overwhelmed with negative emotions. Sometimes we experience fear, sometimes nervousness, and sometimes anxiety. All of these emotions cause us to procrastinate. They prevent us from making decisions and acting, causing us to stay stuck in neutral.
#5. Lack of Commitment
We all know that life gets busy and that time often becomes scarce. With increased commitments comes less time to devote to accomplishing tasks, including completing projects. Our excuses for putting off work range from “I will start tomorrow” to “I am too tired” or “I don’t enjoy working on my project.” Sometimes we put off work because we aren’t committed to it. We say we will take care of it later but never follow through.
Now that you understand why we procrastinate, here are some tips on how to overcome procrastination:
Do what needs to be done: It is sometimes hard to force yourself to finish projects sooner. So instead, do what needs to be done. Don’t put things off until tomorrow, but rather take action today.
Set realistic goals: When you set unrealistic goals, it becomes harder to achieve them. In order to make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up for failure, set realistic goals. Be sure that you have the right resources to complete the project on time and that you are willing to put forth the effort needed to accomplish the task at hand.
Focus on the present: The past cannot be changed; the future is still unknown. As much as we might want to change the past, we cannot. We can only focus on the present. Rather than worrying about what will happen later, we should focus on what we have now.
Make a plan: Before you start any new project, sit down and write out a plan on how you are going to execute the project. Create a timeline for yourself and think through everything ahead of time.
Have support systems: For many individuals, having friends and family that encourage us to follow through with our plans is one of the most effective ways to reduce procrastination. Having someone else look over your shoulder while you work on a project can help you stay motivated when you begin to lose the drive to continue working on a particular task.
Set deadlines. Setting a deadline ensures that you will complete a task within a certain amount of time. For example, if you want to lose weight, set a specific date to accomplish this. By setting a deadline, you ensure that you will take action even though you might be feeling lazy at the moment.
Visualize yourself achieving your goals. When faced with a difficult situation, imagine yourself achieving your goals. For instance, say you want to lose weight. Imagine yourself walking down the beach wearing a swimsuit and looking fit and healthy. Then turn off any negative thoughts and simply let your imagination run wild. After you envision yourself succeeding, visualize all the great things that will happen once you reach your goal. You will soon notice that you’re much more likely to perform well under pressure when you visualize success.
Find a mentor. A mentor is someone who can act as a guide for you. Mentors offer advice and guidance that helps you move forward and accomplish your goals. Having a mentor is beneficial for many reasons. First, having an experienced person to lean on provides the motivation that you need to persevere and push through obstacles that arise. Second, mentors keep you accountable by reminding you of your commitments, which increases your chances of successfully completing your goals. Finally, mentors provide positive reinforcement. When you achieve a goal, your mentor celebrates with you.
Keep promises. Be sure to follow through on your promises. Make a commitment and then see it through. It could save your life and the life of someone else.