Procrastination: A Trail to Destruction

“Procrastination usually results in sorrowful regret. Today’s duties put off tomorrow give us a double burden to bear; the best way is to do them in their proper time.”

— Attributed to Ida Scott Taylor

Procrastination is a true art form that I seem to have perfected. It’s a thief of my time that snatches my productivity right out from under me. This unproductive habit took control before I even knew it, and I didn’t even notice until it had already wreaked havoc in my life. I found myself late for important deadines, appointments and even for things that I wanted to do and looked forward to.

The truth is that I’m probably not the only one affected by this irritating malady. I think that everyone has probably delt with procrastination at some time in their lives. I am certain it probably left a trail of destruction in it’s wake.

So, what is procrastination? Delay, delay, DELAY! Why do we do this? There are as many reasons as there are individuals themselves. We are hardwired to prefer easy over difficult, enjoyabe over unpleasant, stress free over stressful. When it comes right down to it, it’s not always fun to get things done. Anxiety can also contribute to this problem. If thinking about it makes you nervous or anxious, you may put it off until later just to avoid the stress.

Why do we procrastinate, even when we know it might hurt us in the long run? After all, the consequences of procrastination can be significant. Putting things off can actually increase stress, cause a loss of productivity, and even aggravate or cause health issues. Therefore, personal and professional relationships can be affected. It’s a habit that can be hard to break, leading to a cycle of chronic delay and continual stress.

Here’s some advice that might help:

Make A Plan.

Write it on your calendar or make a list. Writing it down makes it real, and if you have a set date to accomplish your task, it’s easier to wrap your head around. If you just decide to “do it when I can” it’s easier to put it off for later. If it’s scheduled and the time is blocked off, it’s easier to just do it.

Break It Down.

Break down an overwhelmingly large task into smaller pieces. Then you can tackle them one at a time. If you don’t want to start a big project, a smaller project is easier to manage, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment for getting something done. That will make it easier to tackle and conquer the next part of the project, and each part after that.

Set Realistic Deadlines.

Give yourself enough time to complete tasks, but not too much time, which can encourage procrastination. Be realistic when you schedule your project, so you don’t have to rush, and make it for a time that’s convenient for you. This way you won’t have a built in excuse when you want to put it off.

Create a Productive Environment.

Eliminate distractions and set up a workspace that encourages focus. Turn off your phone, and avoid social media. How can you get things done when your phone is constantly pinging at you that you have a text message or an email?

Understand Your Peak Hours.

Work on challenging tasks during the time of day when you’re most alert and productive. If you’re more productive in the morning, then schedule the most difficult tasks early in the day. Do the fun things later, when you have less energy.

Reward Yourself.

Set up a reward system to celebrate small victories along the way. This can be as simple as allowing yourself some time for social media or TV, but only AFTER you’ve completed your task.

Remember, procrastination is not an indicator of laziness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Procrastinators are often perfectionists who care a great deal about their work. The key is to understand the triggers and work towards managing them, not to eliminate procrastination entirely, but to control it so that it doesn’t control you.

In the end, overcoming procrastination is about self-awareness, self-regulation, and setting the right priorities. It’s a skill that can be learned and honed, leading to better productivity and a more fulfilling life. So next time you find yourself putting off a task, take a moment to ask why and consider applying some of the strategies above. Your future self will thank you.

Check out these posts for more ideas:

Surviving or Living? A Chill Guide to Career Bliss – Ellen Says Hi

Beating Your Own Elusive Dragons – Ellen Says Hi


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