Procrastination is Complicated

2024 productivity Feb 25, 2024
Old fashioned alarm clock with post-it note that says Later

Procrastination is complicated.

There are certain times of the year and particular circumstances that make us do just about anything other than what we ought to be doing at work and home. Sometimes we can be plain lazy. Just completely unmotivated and not wanting to engage in any activities. Other times, procrastination takes the front seat.

See if any of the following ring true:

  • “If I can’t do it perfectly, what’s the point?”
  • “I’m really afraid to fail at this task.”
  • “I have a hard time just making a decision.”
  • “I’m just going to do the easier, quick result task rather than something more challenging.”
  • “I really don’t want to do this project, so I’ll wait until tomorrow.”

Procrastination is complicated and a time thief. It can also be associated with ADHD. Not everyone with ADHD experiences procrastination, just as those without ADHD can also struggle with procrastination. For the sake of this conversation, I’m talking about procrastination in general terms. Because we all in different ways can relate to procrastination at some time or another. Even the most highly motivated and energetic people I know still procrastinate from time to time.

Procrastination really is complicated and a time thief. It’s about not being lazy. It’s about delaying action for all types of reasons. Procrastination can have a cumulative effect over time. The more inaction, the more delay, the more time lost. It can be really challenging and frustrating.

I’m going to speak from personal experience for a moment. See if you can relate:

I like to think of myself as a high achiever. What I mean by that is I am a continual learner. And I’m guessing if you are following me and reading this, you are too! I know all kinds of odd things, anything that interests me really. And a lot of what I do on a day-to-day basis is self-taught over years. However, I still procrastinate from time to time. I don’t necessarily put things off to the last minute, or miss deadlines, or let tasks build up. I am super organized, and I take the initiative. Generally, I let the fear of failure, or not being good enough at a task creep in. I tend to want to do the short-term task first over taking steps toward the bigger project. I have tasks on my to-do list that get carried over from day to day to day (not all the time, but I can tell when I’m procrastinating).

I am a big proponent of giving yourself some grace. None of us are perfect. None of us always get it right.  We can only do the best we can. So, during those times of procrastination what can we do? We can:

  • Take smaller, more manageable steps towards our goal. Break down a larger goal into smaller more manageable steps so you can watch and mark your progress.
  • Use proven time-management techniques like time blocking our day. This one is my favorite! If you’d like more tips on intentional scheduling aka time blocking, I’ve attached a free resource for you to use. Some people feel time blocking won’t work for them if they are working on a project, or “a creative”, or having a planning session. Time blocking provides you with structure and guidelines in your day that you then get to fill with your own tasks and creativity. It’s the best way to stay on task and it does not need to be rigid. You set up the time blocks and can make them your own.
  • Motivate ourselves with immediate rewards for meeting a benchmark or completion of a project/task. This can be as simple as checking off that step on your list or knowing you can take a short break and come back to do the next step on the list.
  • Look back at how far you’ve come and your successes when negative failure talk creeps in. It can be helpful to write out a few sentences to use when you’re feeling great and have them handy when you aren’t feeling so great and you’re procrastinating.
  • Take 20 seconds of courage to begin. Take a deep breath in, muster a little courage, and begin. 20 seconds is all you need to take the initiative to get started.

The biggest thing you can do is to be aware of the signs of procrastination. Taking steps to address and work through procrastination can significantly improve not only your productivity but your mental and physical well-being. Being aware of your personal signs of procrastination can also make you feel better about reaching out to a friend for some help. Sometimes it’s easier for us to reach out when we can say “I need someone to hold me accountable this week to take one smaller step toward my deadline.” Sometimes, we need to reach out for more help to see if there is something more holding us back.

Give yourself some grace, take the 20 seconds of courage, and step forward.

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