Procrastination is many things to many people.
What Is It?
Essentially, the term “procrastination” is applied to an action that a person thinks they “should” do but don’t.
The key word here is “should”. Should implies:
- “have to or must”
- “I’m forced to”
- “it’s necessary for me to do this”
- “someone else wants me to do its”
- “I’m a people pleaser so I promised to do it”
- “If I don’t do it, I’ll really hear about it”
What Does It Mean?
You noticed a key word missing – “WANT”.
The other not so obvious message here is that there is a payoff for procrastinating. Often people don’t think about the word payoff when they are avoiding taking a particular action. They can be payoffs such as:
- adding to poor self-esteem because when you feel bad about not getting something done, it adds another notch to the self-deprecating voices in your head
- controlling others by delaying actions which impact other people’s time and ability to finish their part of the project
- sensing power from the very act of “doing it when you feel like it”
- feeling the rush of getting the job done just under the wire
- and there are many more payoffs for people.
Can We Stop Procrastinating?
Naturally! Put yourself in charge of your time and your life.
1. Don’t agree to doing anything unless you want to do it. WANT. It’s a habit just like the habit you have now agreeing to taking actions when you really don’t want to do it in the first place.
Accepting that there are things you simply don’t want to do and saying no sets you free. It takes some practice getting to that point. An easy way to start is by saying no to everything – everything for a week, even the things you might want to do. Slowly, start adding back the yes into your vocabulary – selectively – say yes to ONLY the things you WANT to do within the time you have available.
2. Payoff – what’s the payoff? It’s important to realize and accept that there is a payoff in everything we do. We want love, acceptance, money, security, kudos, recognition and a whole host of other things derived from the actions we take. As indicated in the previous paragraphs, the payoffs can also be negative.
What’s the payoff? Do you want it? If so, then accept it. If you want the negative results, then procrastinate and wallow in the joy of procrastination. If you don’t, then do one of two things:
tell the person who made the request that you longer want or can take the action as promised
do it – now and move on!
Once you feel the discomfort of telling someone you aren’t going to do something after all, you’ll never want to put yourself in that position again.
And if you do complete the action even if you don’t want to, feel how it feels – pay attention. It’s not pleasant – remember the feeling next time you are inclined to say yes quickly.
It’s simple to overcome procrastination if you really want to. The challenge is in your head more than in the “thing to be done”. If you can talk to yourself and are willing to see the reality behind the procrastination, the next step will be easy – do it or not – but get it off your list!