… OK, first let me start by directly speaking to all those procrastinators out there. It’s already February, which means that Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. You can’t afford to wait … procrastinating doesn’t work when it comes to love!
Every one of us procrastinates about something at one time or another. Chronic procrastinators, on the other hand, often find a way of doing everything that’s easy to accomplish and enjoyable while postponing important and challenging things. Procrastinators can be easily distracted, get off-topic, and may miss the point when having to work with others on a project they lack motivation for. They talk about procrastinating, what they’re ‘going to do,’ current affairs … everything but the issue at hand.
The High Costs of Waiting
Estimates are that 20% of the adult population and upwards of 70% of college students procrastinate about important tasks regularly. Dr. Joseph Ferrari,a psychologist at DePaul University, has studied procrastination and discovered a number of interesting correlations. Chronic procrastinators are much more likely to feel stressed out, get a poor night’s sleep, demonstrate communication problems, are more likely to be short-fused and express more anger, and have poorer immune function than non-procrastinators. Those who chronically procrastinate pay a big price. You may be able to put off the work a day or so, but you can’t postpone the consequences.
Have you heard the story about the grandparent who thought they would help out by returning their grandchild’s book to the local library only to be hit with late fees in excess of $4,100! She actually returned a book she had borrowed many years earlier and thought, there was always “tomorrow.”
Ever pay your LA County property tax even one day late? That one day can cost you hundreds of dollars!
Then there’s the Mega Millions Lottery winner who, thinking they had at least another week to turn in their million dollar lottery ticket from many months before, waited a few days too many to claim their prize. Now they are in court trying to collect their money and it’s costing them a fortune.
And what about the pool lifeguard who postponed his CPR training only to need it one day later and found himself unable to render assistance. Thankfully, a teenager stepped in and saved the woman’s life.
Why Do People Procrastinate?
People often believe that procrastination is a result of poor planning, too much work or an inability to prioritize tasks effectively. While these factors can contribute to delays, they are not the same as procrastination.
There is growing evidence to suggest that psychological mood issues are at work and exert influence and control over our procrastination behaviors. Procrastinators often attempt to avoid feelings of anxiety by putting tasks and deadlines off for as long as they can. Sometimes we just don’t like the task we have to accomplish so we ignore it, put off addressing it for as long as possible, or make a half-hearted attempt of completing the task. Psychologists have strategies which may help chronic procrastinators – helping them address the underlying mood that often sabotages their efforts and teaching new ways of using their emotions in more productive ways.
Stop Procrastination … NOW!
Author Kyle Webster offers a few simple suggestions …
Time Travel: If you are rebelling against the feeling of having to complete a project, try projecting yourself into the future. Imagine the good feelings you will have if you stop procrastinating and finish the project (or the bad feelings you will have if you don’t finish).
Just Get Started: If you are feeling frightened of possible failure, just get started. Tell yourself you don’t have to do the whole project. Just do the first one or two steps on it. Even a little progress tends to motivate people into completing the work.
Forgive Yourself: If you are feeling guilty about procrastinating, stop beating yourself up. Replace the negative thoughts with something more positive. Reward Yourself: Commit to doing something pleasurable as a reward for completing a task.
Easy Things First: If you are feeling a lot of dread about one task in particular on your “To Do” list, start with something else, preferably the task you feel most like doing. The momentum you gain will help you start the toughest task later.
Chronic procrastinators often lose track of what projects or tasks need to be completed. This (convenient?) forgetfulness can result in missed deadlines, unexpected further delays, and can cost you in the pocket book. If you’re not sure what tasks are outstanding, or when they’re due, make yourself a “To Do” list. There are a number of free Apps available for smartphones and tablets as well.
Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well. :)