Have you ever procrastinated, and put off until tomorrow (or later) something that could or should be done today? Sometimes it pays to wait, but not always!
Why do we procrastinate?
There are several reasons, such as:
:: Self-doubt – ‘Will I do it well enough? I’ll probably fail or make a mess of it anyway so I’ll leave it and see what happens instead.’
:: Fear – of the shame of failure if it’s not done ‘properly’, or of making things worse. Fear of being judged on what you’ve done and maybe being ridiculed or even rejected. Fear of success – ‘What if I do a really good job? What will then be expected of me after that?’
:: Overwhelm – ‘I just don’t have time to do this today – maybe I’ll have more time for it another day.’
:: Perfectionism - ‘It might not be perfect right now, so I’d better wait until I’m completely ready to do a perfect job of it.’
:: Laziness - ‘I just can’t be bothered - if I leave it someone else will do it instead.’
:: Ego and narcissism - ‘It’s beneath me...I shouldn’t have to do this’; or ‘I’m in charge and I’ll do it when I’m good and ready.’
:: Learned behaviour – ‘That’s just what we all do in my family, and it doesn’t matter.’
How do we manage it?
Become aware of, and understand, your own reason and make the firm decision to change an unhelpful pattern.
Put things into priority order each day – particularly if there’s a deadline for something to be completed by.
The 6 Ps - allocate plenty of time to plan, prepare, produce, polish and present your work or task.
Have someone to be accountable to. We are more likely to complete a task if we are reporting back on our progress.
Clear away distractions and minimise interruptions. These break our productive state of focus and ‘flow’ and it takes a while to get back into it.
No matter how humdrum the task or how resistant you are to completing it – remind yourself of the pleasure of crossing another thing off your to-do list!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
Maxine Harley has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has written two books, and created four new approaches to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She lives happily in Chichester with her daughter and grandson.