In Part 1 of this series on procrastination, we looked at what procrastination is and how it can affect our behavior: from simple things like missing daily deadlines to actively torpedoing our career goals.
But to really understand this bothersome trait, we need to tackle the root causes of procrastination and drill down into why we procrastinate and how we can stop.
Why am I procrastinating?! I have so many things to do!
One of the biggest enablers of my own procrastination was in fact my reading habit.
“Oh, let me just read this book about this subject before I start doing the actual work related to it.”
Eleven “Productive” Minutes!
This is called distracting yourself to postpone the inevitable. We all do it.
There will always be another book, another article, another tutorial video, another super-informative course. But reading doesn’t do the dirty work of finishing a job: only elbow grease helps with that.
What reading can do is offer us some answers and teach us the techniques to help overcome the root causes of procrastination.
In my case, reading helped me to identify the root causes of procrastination as:
#1: Lack of Confidence & Low Self-Esteem
This guy knows!
Somewhere along the winding road of life, we all take knocks that impact the future people we will become.
Even if our lights shine brightly as children, real life has a way of eroding our individual hopes, dreams, and senses of ourselves.
Childhood experiences and memories can stay with us subconsciously; and by early adulthood we understand that most of us will need to submit to a more ‘scripted’ life.
Over time, these knocks can give our systems quite a battering.
I needed to restore my self-esteem!
To build myself up again, I started to practice some techniques that I had read about in the past but written off as nonsense:
- positive daily affirmations.
I’ve come to understand that our mind, like every other organ in our body, needs to be fed and maintained.
We are what we tell our mind we are!
Root Cause #2: Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is real with this one!
Another reason I’ve sometimes postponed taking action in the past is because I’ve felt I’ll get things wrong, i.e. the fear of failure.
And if there’s one thing secret perfectionists (see Part 1) can’t stand, it’s getting things wrong.
But other people fail too and failing is normal!
Reading about the many icons and world-class performers who failed before they became successful has helped me to realise that failing is a normal and necessary part of getting something – anything – done.
At the age of 23, for example:
- J.K. Rowling was broke
- Oprah had just been fired as a TV reporter
- Walt Disney had just declared bankruptcy
Once again, visualization, meditation, and positive affirmations have helped me to picture and feel success and to eliminate the fear of failure by ingraining in my mind that failure is not just okay but inevitable.
I now view failure as a blessing in disguise.
When I fail, I learn about another way of not doing something, and I progress one step closer to ‘the right way’.
As Nelson Mandela famously said:
“I never lose. I either win or I learn.”
Root Cause #3: The Pursuit of Perfection
Always chasing those perfect 10s!
This is one I’ve struggled with for the longest time.
For me, chasing perfection has been one of the biggest impediments to taking action. But perfection isn’t really a thing – it’s more like a mental battle that we play with ourselves.
Imperfection is good and normal
Most of the products we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch on a daily basis were not always present in their current state. They were released into the market in an imperfect form and they have been revised and upgraded over time based on market feedback.
Had Bill Gates procrastinated and waited until the Windows P.C. was perfected, we may still be living in a world without the modern personal computer.
Perfection isn’t the starting point. It’s the end goal.
All of that said, 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 again.
But while I’m still a work in progress, the techniques I’ve adopted have undoubtedly had a profound effect on my productivity and mindset.
How About You?
Have you had issues with procrastination when it comes to your everyday life, work, or education? Do you have different techniques or tools to overcome procrastination in your life – and how are you implementing them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.