Before I started researching procrastination to write this post, I would never have described my as a procrastinator or sufferer of procrastination. I now know that is not the case and I do procrastinate, I’m not a serial procrastinator but I do have a tendency to procrastinate more than I thought. For starters it took me a whole lot longer to write this blog post than it really should have.
What is procrastination?
Not to sure what procrastination is, here’s a definition for you from oxforddictionnaries.com, procrastination is: “The action of delaying or postponing something”. It then goes on to say, “your first tip is to avoid procrastination” (no seriously it actually says that, go take a look!).
Establishing if you procrastinate
So the first thing we have learnt is to avoid procrastination (thanks for that tip). However, if you don’t know that you are procrastinating how can I avoid it or put measures in place to manage it?
I came across this great website called Mind Tools with a quick quiz that helps you to identify if you are a procrastinator, you get a score and at the bottom it gives you your result – procrastinator, mild procrastinator, or not a systematic procrastinator. You can do the quiz here (or you could just put it off until later, but that would be procrastinating…).
The good news is you are not alone. Everyone procrastinates. Some just happen to do it a lot more than others, but we have all procrastinated about something at some point, whether that is putting off cleaning the house in favour of going to hang out with friends, or letting the washing basket pile up. There are things we don’t like doing and therefore we try to avoid doing them for as long as possible.
The bad news is that an estimated 20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators (where procrastination becomes a lifestyle and it affects all parts of their life, including not paying bills on times, missing opportunities to buy concert tickets, leaving their christmas shopping until Christmas eve, need I go on?). You can read more about this and the other 10 Things to Know about procrastination from Psychology Today.
Why do we procrastinate?
Interestingly enough, we are not born procrastinators, it is a learned habit from childhood (so that must mean it can also be reversed, no?). The question is – what causes us to procrastinate in the first place? Why do we put things off, again and again and again? Here are a few suggestions:
- skills deficit
- lack of interest
- lack of motivation
- fear of failure (or even success)
- distractions (such as social media, google or email)
Fundamentally negative emotions associated with performing a particular task will more often that not cause you to procrastinate. Perhaps you don’t know how to do a particular task. Maybe you need to do something that is easy to complete but boring, so instead you opt to do the slightly more challenging and fun tasks instead.
If you have noticed that you are procrastinating more than usual, have a think about what the cause maybe. See if you can change that “something” to improve the situation. Maybe it is as simple as getting up, walking around or changing scenery.
Are you a procrastinator? If so, I’d love to hear your reasons for procrastination and what you do to overcome it.