So, something big and important is coming: writing of a scientific paper, preparation of a lab project, studying for exams, doing your weekly assignment or any other huge, scary, thrilling or simply annoying task that you have to complete but for some reason cannot even start? Instead what you are doing is checking your e-mails, flicking TV-channels, Internet surfing, scrolling up and down for the fifth time the Instagram feed in search for some “more important things” to save you from starting your task?
Have that sweet but at the same time guilty feeling that even the dullest currency exchange news or unsolved math problems (even if you are about as far from math as the Andromeda galaxy from the Milky Way) magically become the most interesting stuff in the world? Well then, we have got some news for you: you are having that kind of cunning state known as procrastination.
What Is Procrastination?
According to psychologists it is the deliberate avoidance of doing something that has to be accomplished. In other words, it is when you delay as far as possible completing of difficult tasks and instead look for some distractions which are incredibly numerous and easily available these days. In general, it is a normal state that can be a sign of your tiredness or seasonal weakened vitality, or you are already overwhelmed with many other urgent things to do and one more feels just too much, or simply for this moment you want to do something more active and entertaining than concentrating on problems solving.
The truth is that we all procrastinate sometimes and that is okay. The problems begin when it becomes chronical and makes suffer you and the quality of your work. The study of procrastination held in the University of Vermont revealed that 46% of the respondents delayed writing papers, about a quarter of the interviewees assumed that procrastination was a problem for them and nearly 65% admitted that they would like to get rid of their it.
What Are the Reasons People Procrastinate?
It depends on a person and a task, but most frequently it happens when:
- the task is big, includes many stages of accomplishing, and thus looks terrifying and insuperable;
- the task is too important or needs to be done very accurately and you are not simply ready to assume the responsibility of its accomplishment;
- the task is really very boring and you just do not want to do it at all;
- the task looks so easy and not challenging that it seems you can perfectly do it at the last minute;
- the task is too difficult and it is easier to hang about than to deal with it;
- you are just born with a procrastination personality. You are impulsive, easily distracted, have concentration and self-control problems.
What Can You Do to Get Things Finally Finished?
So, having defined the main causes of the problem, let’s see what can be done in order to solve it or at least have it under control. Here are several helpful tips:
· Start with the easiest things and then progress to the most difficult ones.
It will help you to quickly finish with all that small stuff and make the task look more manageable without the overwhelming cloud of other side-line things to do, allowing you to freely concentrate on more difficult and time consuming parts.
· Just start
It does not matter where, just do it. At the beginning it can be really hard to define what to begin with. So just note down your main idea and start developing it. Later on in the process you will see what to add in the beginning and in which direction to progress.
· Say “No” to excuses
Remain unresponsive to these tiny thoughts that start popping up here and there in your head like “I am not in the mood for doing it”, “there is plenty of time yet, doing it lately will be just fine”, “I work more effectively under pressure” etc., don’t blame sickness and do not wait till the right moment, because the сut-off date may come faster.
· Increase the value of your task
You need to acknowledge and try to keep in mind why it is important to complete the task. If you under valuate the goal, it is hard to stay motivated. Try to make it a game where you reward yourself in the end. Another way to increase the goal’s value is to think about what is going to happen if you do not finish the work. Sometimes it works even better, especially when you do not really care about the goal.
· Stay concrete and think clear, succinct and to the point
It is hard to deal with the problem if it is abstract. Give it some borders and make it more material so that it would be easier for you to work it out.
· Do not think too much
Overthinking leads to doubts that in their turn cause procrastination. Such things as all-or-nothing thinking and believing that you are going to do everything wrong just waste your mental energy that could be spent on the task completion.
· Be in peace with yourself
Sometimes you just have to accept that the task is really very hard for you and it will take a lot of time and forces. Self-blaming of not being able to do the job will only make you feel worse about yourself and will contribute to the procrastination even more as we tend to avoid things that upset us.
· Do not think that nothing can be done, because you were born this way
Nothing is impossible. Okay, you cannot change your personality, but you can change your environment. Put yourself in an environment with less distractions, have everything you need in arm’s distance so that you can keep staying concentrated on the task and work it through.
As you can see, procrastination is not a final sentence and if you have a desire to beat it there are ways to do that. Try to follow the recommendations mentioned above and finally tame your inner procrastinator.