The problem with procrastination
We have all done it, that is procrastinate, but so what? Is there a problem with procrastinating? Does it affect us? What is the big deal about it? Before we look into whether there is a problem with procrastination, let us first define it, according to the Oxford English dictionary it is “the act of delaying something that you should do, usually because you do not want to do it.”
We know that there are negatives to procrastination, like not getting stuff done or missing important deadlines at work, however there are other aspects of procrastination to consider.
Firstly, not achieving your goals, whether personally or professionally, will mean you will have a shortcoming in your overall plan of your life or business, thereby potentially stalling your progress.
Secondly, which builds upon the first, is our self-esteem is impacted. Since we don’t hit goals and thereby not achieve what we wanted to, ebbs away at our confidence and feelings of low-esteem, and this becomes like vicious circle of doubt and self-efficacy.
And thirdly, since we start to leave things to the last minute, we can start to make very poor decisions, as we base our criteria for the decision making on the pressure situation rather than a more planned and thoughtful approach prior to a deadline.
And finally, one that perhaps you might not of thought of, but it can impact on your health and well-being. Since the last minute approach can create unwanted stress and anxiety along with the not delivering goals impacts our mental health.
Why do we procrastinate?
Before we look to how we might help ourselves with procrastination, let’s look at perhaps why we might do this. Often why we don’t execute on a task or goal is the lack of belief that we will either not complete it or achieve it, almost the fear of failure. We can also have anxiety around the task in hand, whether we can handle it, this might be driven by lack of confidence.
With others they procrastinate because they just don’t want to do the task, for whatever reason, perhaps we need to question why do we have the task in the first place. And finally perfectionism can be a blocker to starting a task, either we are afraid of making a mistake or we want to make sure we get the task perfect, for example – we won’t publish a post on social media until we think it is perfect.
How to stop procrastinating?
At the very outset of goal setting, make sure you have clarity on your purpose / why in life, since this is your energy and motivating source to drive you forward. Once you know this, align goals to get you closer to your purpose, your purpose will be the motivating force to act upon the goals. And with goal setting, use the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound) to establish goals that are clear and focused.
We also need to understand why you might procrastinate, which will give you some insight into strategies to help you. One that I find useful is to have accountability, tell others of your goals and plans who will hold you accountable, this could be the board in your company or your partner / friend. Someone who will challenge you, has your best interest at heart along with supporting you in achieving your goals.
And with any goal setting exercise, you need a plan, the HOW are you going to achieve these goals. Breakdown the goals into bite size pieces of daily or weekly activities that will result in you achieving the goals. This also helps with motivation, hitting those milestones you have set, however small they are, however the increments are, celebrate success along the journey, it elicits a positive state of mind. It ensures we keep future focused which creates a thriving mindset.
And finally, make sure you only have a limited number of goals aligned to your purpose or the mission of the company.