photo credit: Pedro da Silva @pedroplus – unsplash
Have you ever met someone who says “I’m the queen (or king) of procrastination”? Maybe you have. I know I have. Maybe that person is you. At any rate, I think we are all guilty of procrastination to some degree or another. What is it about procrastination that, even though we don’t like to do it, know that it won’t help us and will even cause us stress, causes us to continue putting off doing what needs to be done? Are we suckers for self-inflicted punishment?
Procrastination is so common that it is almost cliché and yet, it is so destructive. In the business world probably millions of dollars are lost each year due to a failure to get things done on time and a failure to address people problems. In government organizations, procrastination is often ignored or swept under the carpet as problems are not dealt with. All kinds of problems – health issues, relationship troubles, financial problems, and business or work related issues can be traced to procrastination. It really is the grand thief of our well being and happiness.
Procrastination – The Life Sucker
Is Procrastination Stealing Your Time?
Time is so precious and we don’t get more of it, only less as it goes on. When we procrastinate, we are actually stealing time from ourselves, by keeping ourselves in a “holding state” where we constantly think about what we have to do, but don’t do. As long as we are there, we can not use this time thinking about and doing other things that are more productive and could benefit us. Time spent on fretting about when, how and where to do something as well as going through all the emotions of what will people think, say and do is really wasted time.
Is Procrastination Stealing Your Peace of Mind?
Having that black cloud of knowing we have to do something ( a particular task) and not really wanting to do it is certainly not conducive to peace of mind and wellbeing. It is stressful. It weighs on us and nags at us constantly until we finally make a decision about doing something. Procrastination comes in and hounds us like a tiresome and uninvited guest who won’t go away. Certainly, peace of mind is worth more than having to go through this.
Is Procrastination Stealing Your Money?
Procrastination can actually be robbing our money. Each time we”forget” to return non-desired goods to the store for a refund, each time we fail to follow up on financial mistakes or fail to budget when we know we should – all of these and many more tasks not done can cost us untold amounts of money simply because we neglected to be disciplined. All these neglected tasks can add up over time and will show up in our pocketbook.
Is Procrastination Affecting Your Relationships?
Procrastination can make relationships suffer and even make them dissolve. Neglecting to keep in contact, forgive, have that difficult conversation, apologize – all these are relationship destroyers and relationships that are “on the line” have a time limit. Each time we fail to think less of the person or people we are in a relationship with and more about our own ego puts another nail in the coffin of the burial of the relationship. Procrastination, where relationships are concerned, is self-centeredness, plain and simple.
Is Procrastination Stealing Opportunities from You?
Think about all those times you said no or shied away from an opportunity. Maybe you felt it wasn’t the right time. Maybe you felt you weren’t good enough or that you would be rejected. Maybe you were scared to dive in. Maybe you wanted to wait to have more money. What if you had said yes? How might your life have been different? Sometimes procrastination – holding off on opportunities in the hopes of a better (or more convenient) one will come along – can shut the door completely for us and we will never know how things might have been.
So many opportunities are lost, so many things are never done because we were waiting for the right time, the most convenient circumstances and the right belief about ourselves and our abilities. Today is the day and someday is not a day on the calendar. Don’t steal from an old person – that old person may be you in the future.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
An article in Psychology Today: 9 Reasons You Procrastinate (and 9 Ways to Stop) suggests the following reasons for why we procrastinae:
We tend to “throw compassion to the wind” and not do what we should do
Procrastination is rooted in not being kind to ourselves. The more we put off doing what we know we should do, the more we keep ourselves in bondage to this task hanging over us like a black cloud. Who wants to live under a black cloud of things that we know we should do but keep putting off?
We may have learned to procrastinate from role models.
We learn by what we see and what we experience and from those around us. We mimic them, either consciously or unconsciously and if our role models and people in our circle of influence are regular procrastinators, there is a strong chance that we will be as well. It might be a good time to find new role models who get things done and reap positive results.
We don’t think we will be good at the task
Sometimes we just lack the confidence. We may just presume .with absolutely no evidence to back our theory up, that we are not able to do what we need to do. One good place to start would be to not compare ourselves to others and assume that if we put our mind and elbow grease to it, we can do it.
We may be biased against doing a particular type of task.
For some reason, we may have a negative view or prejudice towards doing a certain task and we use this prejudice as an excuse. We may see the task as an annoyance and attack against our personal views. We could begin by being open to trying and possibly learning from the opportunity. It may be that our viewpoint was off.
We may have difficulty estimating time
The stereotypical student is good at miscalculating time, which is why many of them study for exams or finish projects at the very last minute. but students are not the only ones – many of us are guilty of setting inaccurate timelines, imagining that we have more time than we actually do to finish a task. We also fail to factor in the unexpected detours we need to take.
We tend to think short term rather than long term
We can tend to be slightly myopic when it comes to what is important, focusing on the hear and now rather than on the long term impacts and benefits or consequences. Not cultivating a mindset of getting to business and getting things done may have less than desirable consequences down the road of life.
We may have a perfectionist bent that hinders action
Perfectionists- gotta love them! Unfortunately waiting until everything is perfect – the perfect timing, the perfect circumstances as well as the opinion that a task has to be done perfectly will keep a person in the starting position only. In fact, they will never start and the job will never get done (by them). A suggestion would be to let go and be more flexible – allow for mistakes.
Conditions such as depression or anxiety may cause us to be inactive
These conditions can be debilitating and can hold a person prisoner to moods and ways of thinking. Tasks can be overwhelming to them. Apart from seeking out proper treatment, breaking down tasks into manageable sizes can help these people accomplish tasks.
We may have an intolerance towards leaving our comfort zone
Often we procrastinate is due to the fact that accomplishing a task such as calling someone or confronting someone, firing an employee can take us way out of our comfort zone. It can actually terrify us to the point that it paralyzes us. We somehow believe that we are physically or psychologically in danger. The best cure for fear is action, not inaction.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Procrastination is a thief! It can steal our money, our peace of mind, our opportunities and attack our relationships. Procrastination is sacrificing the future on the altar of the present. There are reasons why we procrastinate and, for the most part, these reasons are founded in the excuses we make and the beliefs or perceptions we have or tell ourselves. Perception is not reality; it is perception. Beliefs can be changed. Taking action is the cure to procrastination.
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Diana Lynne enjoys travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her at livingandstuff.ca
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