We’re continually choosing how we spend time.
For many of us, physical survival is no longer an immediate problem.
This means we can freely choose most of our activities, and the diligence with which we do them.
Naturally, if we don’t work, we may not have the rent money we’ll need next week.
At some point, not paying rent has a large consequence. But even once we stop paying, we wouldn’t be ‘on the street’ for weeks. And so we don’t think much about those sorts of consequences.
They are, after all, some way in the distance.
After all, If we don’t do our work well, we’ll probably still get paid. We can waste most of our day on non‑essential tasks, and still survive into tomorrow.
Avoiding necessary tasks is clearly a dumb tactic; we don’t get ahead, we don’t achieve the heights we could, and we live in mediocrity, when we need not.
Yet, we do avoid doing things that often we’ve said we will do. And we admit to this inexplicable action as if it’s something unavoidable.
Procrastination is always a problem for me.”
We procrastinate over things in all areas of our lives. But we needn’t.
Steve Pavlina has written some illuminating material on procrastination. He lists eight elements that cause procrastination here:
Let’s look at these eight areas.
Stress triggers procrastination
In certain situations procrastination works as a coping mechanism to keep your stress levels under control.”
When we’re stressed, we often don’t make good decisions, so it may be a good thing if your ‘procrastination switch’ turns off or reduces your urge to perform.
Consider how you could redirect some of your focus; you might try increasing your time in meditation, social interactions outside work, and sport.
Deliberately doing ‘fun stuff’ will reduce your stress levels if you decide that this time is worthwhile. Simply adding more activities without reducing others will only increase stress.
Overwhelm triggers procrastination
Sometimes you may have more items on your to-do list than you can reasonably complete. This can quickly lead to overwhelm, and ironically you may be more likely to procrastinate when you can least afford it.”
As noted already, having too many things on your ‘must do’ list means you’ll be stressed out before you start any of them. So take a look at that list.
There are probably things there you’ve decided you want to do, but also things that others want you to do. Sometimes the majority of things on our list are put there by others.
Which required tasks can’t be delegated or declined because only you can do them? And which of those are time-sensitive? They are really the only things you need to focus on now.
Perfectionism triggers procrastination
Believing that you must do something perfectly is a recipe for stress, and you’ll associate that stress with the task and thus condition yourself to avoid it. So you put the task off to the last possible minute until you finally have a way out of this trap.
Worry caused by the fear of mistake‑making has stopped many potential successes. Imperfect action always trumps perfect hesitation, and while I and many others have found themselves waiting until things were ‘just right’, that isn’t a way to get anything done.
Learn to correct on the way, like you steer a car. Objects in motion may be redirected much easier than objects at rest.
Ineffective time management triggers procrastination
Do you ever find yourself falling behind because you overslept, because you were too disorganized, or because certain tasks just fell through the cracks? Bad habits like these often lead to procrastination, often unintentionally.”
What task completion could you improve by making some small adjustments to your routine? Getting changes happening requires planning and commitment. It’s easy to say ‘I’ll get up earlier’, but doing so regularly requires avoiding late‑night television or other habits that keep you up too long.
Small changes in everyday actions can leave big chunks of time free, which will allow you more time for the stuff that stresses you. Reflect on changes you could make. Where could you save time by organizing yourself just a little better?
Laziness triggers procrastination
Often we procrastinate because we feel too physically and/or emotionally drained to work. Once we fall into this pattern, it’s easy to get stuck due to inertia because an object at rest tends to remain at rest.”
All too often, we put off until tomorrow . . . and sometimes the ‘tomorrow’ doesn’t come. Knowledge that we do this is so widespread that a mention of it will result in knowing nods from anyone around.
And yet, humans are not lazy when it comes to their survival or their pleasure. If we’re ‘fired up’ about something, we’re off the couch in a flash. What needs doing? And why does it matter? And what will you lose or fail to gain if you take no action?
Your time is valuable. Give yourself compelling reasons for the things you have on your list.
Ill-discipline triggers procrastination
We all experience temporary laziness at times, but if you suffer from chronically low motivation and just can’t seem to get anything going, then it’s time for you to let go of immature thought patterns, to embrace life as a mature adult, and to discover your true purpose in life.”
Have you discovered your purpose in life? It’s that mission that enlivens you, the one you could talk about for hours without losing interest.
I believe mission, or a life’s purpose, is closely connected with the values we have. What matters most to you? Defending or advancing that is probably your life’s purpose. You won’t feel lazy or without energy if you have a cause to chase after!
A lack of motivation triggers procrastination
Even when motivation is high, you may still encounter tasks you don’t want to do. If your self-discipline is weak, however, procrastinating will be too tempting to resist.”
If you aren’t really interested, you won’t perform’; you’ll find any amount of reasons why ‘it isn’t important right now’. As with apparent laziness, the real reason you don’t act ids because you don’t have reason to. And if there are no reasons to act, why should you.?
But if there are, you need to remind yourself of their emotional value of persisting, not procrastinating, and you’ll be likely to do a lot more of the former.
Poor skill levels trigger procrastination
If you lack sufficient skill to complete a task at a reasonable level of quality, you may procrastinate to avoid a failure experience.”
What do you do best? Are you working in an area that requires that skill or talent? When you aren’t, the complexities of the job will quickly cause you to procrastinate.
I know that anytime I’m working with mathematical concepts, my eyes get tired and I drift away mentally. The effort to learn what I need seems too great. But in the creative endeavors I enjoy, no obstacle is too challenging; every unknown is another interesting element to research.
Find work that uses the skills you like using most. You’ll not feel a burden when faced with training yourself in that.
Consider what you’re doing when you‘re tempted to procrastinate
How could you change your task list to better use your skills and uphold your values? And wouldn’t you like more moments of positivity, and a higher awareness of your purpose in life?
With ZSM’s 50 Day Transformation Journey, Life, Destiny, you can easily achieve the life changes you want.