'To keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring'
'The avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished'
Ah, procrastination! The little devil on our shoulder and a genuine source of anguish for a lot of people day in day out. When we know exactly what we need to do, and how long it'll take us, why do so many of us continue to put things off until the last minute? Since sitting down to type this post up, I've checked my phone 3 times, made a cup of tea, walked Jet and checked some news articles. Then I closed my laptop for the day and picked this up again at the end of the next day. After a cup of tea.
For some people, procrastination works as an effective tool for getting something done. By leaving everything until the last possible moment, you finally run out of excuses and distractions and actually have to focus on the task in hand until it's complete. However, for others (myself included), procrastination leaves us feeling annoyed, defeated, stressed and completely unproductive.
With that in mind, why do we keep procrastinating?
Below I've listed some of the main causes of procrastination. Feel free to pick your favourite excuse for making excuses, I know it made me feel better :)
Not knowing where to start
Fear of the unknown
A lack of focus or motivation
It's also been shown that some of the root causes of procrastination are evaluation threat and fear of failure. The thinking behind these causes is that if you don't try very hard or end up rushing something then it doesn't matter if you don't do well at it because you haven't put your heart and soul into the task. There's no risk of passionately dedicating your time, focus and energy into the task only to not get the result or outcome you'd hoped for and feeling like you've failed.
Both of these limitations can absolutely be improved in anyone, especially using techniques and tools used in focussed coaching sessions, and I wanted to share my Top 4 tips for helping you jump out of procrastination
Get everything out on paper
Write. Everything. Down. Nobody's brain has the ability to hold onto every task that needs to be completed and the underlying sub-tasks that make up the completion of something bigger. Writing things down, whether electronically or on paper is the first step towards understanding
Remember that to FAIL is only your First Attempt in Learning
Failure is simply a stepping stone to where we want to be. The most successful people in the world have failed at countless pursuits, but it has never stopped them.
Repeat after me: "Nothing can be perfect". Tell yourself this every day. 10 times
The world isn't made to be perfect. It's organic, fluid, and natural. The sooner we can drop the idea that everything needs to be perfect, the sooner we can start spending more time on important things we love (and not triple or quadruple checking everything we do).
Think about the Why
Why are you doing this thing? What is the end result? Who will be impacted positively by you completing this task? How does this task take you one step closer to your goal, aim or plan? Asking yourself these questions can help remind you of the bigger picture behind something seemingly small, and can help give you the boost you need to get back on track.
And if you're after a good old fashioned metaphor, take a leaf out of Brian Tracy's book, 'Eat That Frog'.
"you cannot eat every tadpole and frog in the pond, but you can eat the biggest and ugliest one, and that will be enough, at least for the time being"