Everyone procrastinates at one time or another. Estimates are that 95 percent of people procrastinate at times. However, for some people, procrastination is a bad habit with many negative effects on work performance, job security, relationships and mental health. Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators.
Why do people procrastinate?
There are two major causes of procrastination. The first major cause is avoidance. We procrastinate to avoid overwhelming tasks, difficult tasks, unpleasant tasks or to avoid change. The second cause is fear and anxiety. We procrastinate because of our fear of failure, fear of success, fear of criticism, fear of making mistakes or fear of rejection.
Tips to end procrastination
- Identify the reasons why you procrastinate. Examine how avoidance or fear and anxiety are at the root of your procrastination. Identify the reason(s) you put off a particular task and then come up with solutions. Examining your emotions when you are faced with tasks that you always procrastinate is a good place to start.
- Do the easiest part first. Start with what is easiest, so that you experience immediate success, which will give you the fuel and motivation to continue.
- Break large tasks up into smaller, manageable pieces. Take unpleasant or difficult tasks and break them down into small steps and tackle them one step at a time. Create a timeline for yourself to accomplish these smaller tasks.
- Write it down. Schedule time to work on your task and write it down. Keep your appointments.
- Reward yourself. Set a “completion point” for accomplishing each step of a task. Completion points give you an end in sight to look forward to. Set up a series of rewards to give yourself upon accomplishing each “completion point.”
- Just get started. When it’s something you don’t like to do but have to do, don’t waste valuable time agonizing over it. And, don’t wait until you’re “in the mood.” The mood almost always never comes. Schedule time on your calendar and get the task done so you can get it out of your mind. Then, reward yourself. A “do it now” attitude deserves a pat on the back.