Why do we procrastinate?
We have all left a task hanging around on our to-do list for a few hours, or days, or even weeks. Basically, way too long. Believe it or not, procrastination is normal, which is why it is very important to understand why we have it and what we can do about it.
Procrastination isn’t just avoiding or delaying a specific task. It’s also about being counterproductive, unnecessary, or even irrational. You can categorize triggers into different categories. These categories are Impulsivity, Value, Time, and Expectancy. For example, people may procrastinate because they do not value the task or they may feel they are not going to achieve what is expected.
Here are some strategies to help you overcome procrastination:
- Try to look at the task at hand from the outside so that you can figure out exactly why you are putting it off. Once you are able to pinpoint the reason, you can strategize the best way to overcome it.
- Is it an issue of time? It’s been proven that people are more productive during different times of the day. If you know you are more productive during a specific time of day, then try to schedule the most difficult tasks closer to that time. This strategy can help you complete the task more efficiently.
- Do big tasks overwhelm you? One of the reasons people put off a task is because of what the outcome may bring. People are afraid of not completing a task well or of failing. One way to overcome this fear is to break the big task into small tasks. This strategy will make the big task more manageable, and you may also find yourself being more efficient.
- Is delayed gratification a struggle for you? Sometimes it can be tough to see a task as important or even rewarding. Because of this view, many people tend to wait until right before the deadline to accomplish a task. Rather than waiting to the last minute, break the task into smaller ones and give yourself little rewards along the way. Try scheduling tasks that you enjoy in between the smaller tasks. Not only will this strategy help you get the task done, it can give your mind a break and provide clarity.
- Do you get distracted easily? When you sit down to perform a task, put things away and minimize distractions. Try turning off notifications or closing multiple tabs on your browser. Believe it or not, the thought of multitasking can actually be a trap. It will lead you to feel like you’ll never reach the end of a task. This thought process can deprive you of the satisfaction that comes from completing a task. Focus on one task at a time, finish it, put it away, take a break, then start a new task with a fresh train of thought.
- Do you struggle with something bigger? Sometimes, we think we are just dealing with procrastination, but in reality, it can be a symptom of something that may be a lot more serious, like depression, attention disorders, or even anxiety. If your performance has been limited or you’re not at your best, don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. By getting some additional help, you can actually increase your productivity.
- Do you hit the wall? Everyone has trouble finishing a task from time to time. If you don’t have a deadline right around the corner, it’s best to take a break and focus on getting a nap in, exercising, or even getting something to eat. A break can bring our thoughts back to the right path. If you do have a deadline, try completing your tasks in a shorter period of time. Believe it or not, doing this will actually help you to increase your productivity and make up for lost time.