Today I want to talk about procrastination. I’ll discuss my own personal struggles with procrastinating. I’ll also show some of the steps I’ve taken – and am still taking – to conquer my mind.
In all of my endeavors, my aim is to reduce and eventually erase procrastination. Then, I can pursue my goals with a singleness of purpose. (Yep, that’s my aim!)
Since procrastination is such a knotty issue, I’m going to attempt to unfurl it out over two blog posts.
Let’s start by taking a look at what procrastination is. We’ll then examine how to judge when it’s become a problem.
Procrastination – What is it?
Presumably, the fact that you are reading this suggests that you’re already aware of procrastination and what it is. (Most people who are reading stuff on the Internet are procrastinating.)
But let’s recap just in case:
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It could be further stated as a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences.”Wikipedia
So procrastination is an obstacle.
And it’s one we’ve all encountered, and perhaps struggled with, at some point in our lives.
Let me tell you about my own experience.
My Experience with Procrastination
My own experience is that I’ve suffered with procrastination for many, many years.
I’ve always put things off indefinitely, or at the very least, until the last minute. I’d tell myself that “I work better under pressure,” or some other convoluted lie to justify my lack of action.
I was the personification of a procrastinator. Not only in my professional life, but also academically, or when it came to personal “to-dos”.
I had many personal and professional goals, and the drive, determination, and motivation to go after them. But the lure of procrastination has always been there in the background. Silently it played with my mind, preventing me from getting things done.
If I knew the end goal and I had the motivation to get there, why was I not executing and achieving?
Procrastinating – putting things off – has often been associated with depression, a sense of inadequacy on the procrastinator’s part, low self-esteem, and issues surrounding a lack of confidence.
I’ll add to that list and include the fear of failure: procrastinators are often perfectionists in disguise.
How Big a Problem is Procrastination?
Everybody procrastinates sometimes.
When we can’t figure out a way to do something easily, we procrastinate – we put off finding the solution. But procrastinating can often transition from a harmless habit into something potentially more damaging.
This was the case for me.
It was only at the very breaking point, when I was putting in hours of work a day and seeing no results, that I realized that something was wrong.
I had big ambitions, but my external actions weren’t reflecting my internal visions.
I had to find the answer to the problem of why I was procrastinating, or I would be forever stuck performing my “action faking” routines, and watching my dreams pass me by.
What do I mean by “action faking”?
The best way I can explain action faking it is “being busy for the sake of being busy”.
In doing this, you’re doing lots of tasks that have no real return and don’t move you closer to your end goal.
Spending weeks designing a logo is a great example of “action faking”. Actively going out and meeting with prospects to grow your business – that’s action TAKING not action FAKING!
Procrastinating: a form of ‘self-sabotage’
Procrastination can stem from many root causes.
In my case, I was unsure exactly where my tendency to procrastinate came from.
After spending quite some time in deep though and self-analysis (literally sitting down and asking myself “why am I doing this?”) I pinpointed my tendency to procrastinate as stemming from a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, a fear of failure, and (closely related) a desire for perfection.
It’s important to realise that procrastination actually further emphasizes those kinds of issues.
Or, to put it differently, to procrastinate is to commit a form of self-sabotage.
If you suffer from a lack of confidence or low self-esteem, and you procrastinate and fail to take action, you simply re-enforce those thoughts in your mind and further question your abilities: your mind continues to tell you that you are incapable of getting things done.
In Part 2 of this series on procrastination, we’ll examine those root causes more closely, and look at some steps and techniques that can help us to reduce the amount of time we waste procrastinating.
How About You?
My own experiences with procrastination have been full of peaks and troughs. One day I’m extremely focused and productive, the next day procrastination rears its ugly head yet again!
However, the techniques I’ve adopted (which I discuss in Part 2) have undoubtedly had a profound effect on reducing procrastination in my life.
Have you had issues with procrastination when it comes to your every day life, work or education? Do you have different techniques to overcome procrastination in your life – and how are you implementing them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.