Why You Procrastinate and What to Do About It

Procrastinate

Why You Procrastinate and What to Do About It

Most people think that procrastination is a result of poor time management and laziness. While it can be that, a feature on The New York Times explains that a person's inability to manage their negative feelings about a task can also cause procrastination. These feelings are rooted in the inherently unpleasant task itself, such as paying bills, or deeper emotions related to the task, like self-doubt from writing a project proposal. Small tasks also tend to accumulate because we think they're easy to do, so we can save them for last. But delaying tasks will only increase feelings of self-blame and stress.

Putting off a task still provides momentary relief, which the brain can interpret as a reward for procrastination, leading to a vicious cycle. To help fight procrastination, you'll need to take steps in managing both your productivity and the emotions you connect with tasks. So, below are tips to help you get started:

Create a detailed timeline of your tasks

Having a to-do list is a good starting point. However, if you write down your tasks only as they are, like "finish project report" and "respond to emails," you'll likely end up looking at a shortlist that you may underestimate. This could lead to you pushing everything back. Alternatively, seeing big tasks like getting some important paperwork done may make you want to avoid them until the last possible moment.

To help, consider creating a detailed timeline of your to-do list by breaking down your bigger tasks. A guide to fighting procrastination on SymptomFind suggests creating a set timeline for working on each task and doing the toughest and least enjoyable ones first. This gives you a better structure to follow, and seeing the big assignments in the form of smaller chunks makes them look easier to accomplish.

Distance yourself from distractions

Sometimes, even with a detailed to-do list, you still end up procrastinating. The few minutes you give yourself to check your social media accounts or focus on the TV that's in the same room as you can get out of hand until you realize you're behind your self-made schedule already. So sometimes, it's just better to distance yourself from these distractions.

You can minimize your distractions by setting up a workplace that can help you be more productive. This means no working on the bed or the sofa as they may make you too comfortable to the point of accidentally dozing off. It would be best if you had a spot that's away from the TV and radio and out of the way of people you're living with. Even when you've dealt with environmental distractions, you can also consider using apps like Freedom to prevent you from accessing apps and websites that would ruin your concentration.

Take breaks

You might think that beating procrastination means working nonstop - even to the point of eating in front of your computer. However, an article on CNBC says that not taking your breaks can spark a mindset where you surrender your lunch break, then all your free time, including evenings and weekends, for work. And this can only lead to burnout.

This is where scheduling breaks comes in as it allows you to decompress and cool down. You're also more likely to feel more engaged and productive if you take the time for a proper lunch break. Breaks also result in employees thinking they're more effective and efficient, so they're also more satisfied with their job.

There's no better time to get rid of your procrastination habits than now. And, as a previous Inspired Purpose Coach article outlines, you don't have to wait. After all, you don't want to look back on missed opportunities that might result from procrastination. Change may be difficult, but it's only a matter of starting those first few steps in the right direction.

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