In this day and age, when were busy struggling to complete that task, or have a deadline to meet, we should always remember, not to succumb to the effects of procrastination. Looking back, we might all have become victim to this psychological and behavioral phenomenon, in one way or another. But did you pull through? Did you emerge victorious?
Can you recall perhaps a situation such as this? How were you able to overcome it? Did you tick that “later box” instead of the “now box” as illustrated in the picture above? Or did you just let it take its course and were unable to complete your task? Sometimes, procrastination can be a real issue. It may even results in poorly completed tasks as you rush to put everything together in a last minute ditch to get that report ready for the boss.
So what is procrastination? Procrastination is the act of postponing or delaying something. Wikipedia further expounds on this and describes it is the act of doing a more pleasurable task in place of a less pleasurable one such that you have impending tasks waiting for you at a later time.
And let’s not forget to touch on the statistics behind it. Presently the stats are overwhelming. According to My Time Management procrastination affects over 20% of the population and this percentage is speculated to rise in years to follow. Researchers as well say that this phenomenon has more than quadrupled in the last three decades, with the prevalence of population in 1978 being 5% as opposed to the now whooping 26% of the population today (Steele, 2007). Some surveys suggest that 85-95% of students have problems associated with procrastination. These stats are just the tip of the iceberg, with brandongaille elaborating this in so many levels down to the effect it has on financial loss as is clearly detailed in the presented infograph of one of the blog posts as illustrated in the figure shown below.
So let’s dig a little bit deeper into what instigates procrastination.
A number of factors have contributed to rising procrastination levels. A good way to look at this could be the in terms of external and internal factors. Internal factors in this case could refer to factors that arise from individuals perception towards the task while external factors on the other hand refer to factors around the individual and the environment that push a person to procrastinate a task for a later date.
The External & Internal Factors
This is by far the major contributing factors that push people towards procrastination. With the advent of technology, a lot of distractions have come with this. Kids and students opt to watch Tv and binge-watch that favorite series of theirs. The internet and social media and online platforms are also becoming a big distraction with a large number of individuals spending a lot of time on these sites. Gadgets such as smartphones are also a major contributing factor to distraction of a large number of people
Other external factors as My Time Management tries to point out include:
- Lack of clear goals for tasks assigned,
- Avoidance of certain unpleasant tasks,
- Anger or resentment towards the requester or the establishment,
- The nature of task or project could be overwhelming,
- Leaving things till the last minute.
- Lack of references to work with.
On the other hand internal factors, include among others, c certain fear of failure or the opposite of that which is success towards achieving the task, lack of confidence when attending to the matter, anxiety and fatigue. Stress factors have also been implicated as a procrastination factor.
So now that we have laid now the basics of what brings about procrastination in our day to day activities, it’s important to know how to stop procrastination and avoid it completely. In essence, sometimes knowing the cause of an issue is the first road to beating it, and by identifying whether some of the factors discussed above that bring about procrastination are plaguing you, then, one can focus his/her energy to overcoming this.
A number of strategies could be employed towards putting a stop to procrastination. Some of these are discussed below;
- Do an online procrastination course
You could give one of the common procrastination courses found online a shot, and it could help shed some light on why you procrastinate and even give you step by step guides and strategies to beating it. Some of these online procrastination courses include;
- Overcoming Procrastination – Lynda.com
Lynda.com has always proved itself resourceful when it comes to online courses. And their courses are good, short and easy to comprehend and grasp. This online course on overcoming procrastination could be good place to start.
- The Complete Guide On How To Stop Procrastinating – Udemy
When it comes to Udemy, the platform has large collection of paid courses on stopping procrastination with a majority of them priced at an average of 10 dollars. However, there is only on free course you can take that is free listed above “The Complete Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating” that you can give it a shot. Feel free to check it out in the link below.
- Other courses
- Powerful Goal Setting: Step by Step Blueprint
- Time Management Secrets for Busy People
- Learn Optimal Sleep to Improve Your Health, Energy, and Mind
- Mindfulness Meditation: A 21-Day Guided Programme
- The Neuroscience of Self-Compassion
You can also check out these other online courses and gain access to them from this article from the linked below
- Try beating procrastination on your own free will
This is the most common choice chosen by people and it’s difficult and could result in success, but only after vigorous attempts and many trials and errors. This is called tricking yourself to doing that task.
- Change our thoughts and thinking
Timothy Pychyl in his book ‘Solving The Procrastination Puzzle’ recommends that as a thought to a task we should “just start it” instead of “just do it” starting a task could help in finishing it rather than putting it off as it might trigger an interest in the subject matter of positive emotion to finish it. You could possibly start with the part of the task that interest you the most. And always remember once you start, minimize the level of distraction.
Brian Tracy in his feature also pushes for this thought.
Change our actions
It is ideal to change the way you perform task if you want to stop procrastination. A good place to start would be to minimize distraction say by turning notifications on your phone when working or putting your phone away. Also it has been recommended to avoid multitasking, despite a number of people professing that they are ‘gurus’ at it. Always remember in this case people tend to be different, but generally do what works for you, even if it means having large noises in the background or listening to your favorite jam coming from the stereo near you.
You can decide to change your working routine and only focus your tasks on key periods of the day when you know you will have the greatest amount of focus. This is what is referred to as “time blocking”. Say you could do tasks that are the most important and that require a great deal of focus creativity in the morning when you are fresh and ready to jump in and complete the work. Time blocking is the ultimate secret weapon for better focus.
Manage your project
It is easier to complete your task if you break it down into smaller chunks of tasks that can be achieved easier and faster and as well schedule these projects with specified time so that it easier to complete the whole task rather than having a go at the entire task at one go. And always remember to have a framework whereby you reward yourself once a portion of the task is completed to help you gain traction and push you to eventually complete the task. A good reward could be, say a break in the form of a thirty minute outdoor swim or walk.
Try the 3-2-1 trick as recommended by Phil
The basis of this trick is to unlock your true potential not by completing tasks but by giving you the ability to build positive new habits. You could head over to Phil’s YouTube channel to learn more on that trick.
In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with a special feature from TED talks by Tim Urban who explores the mind of a master procrastinator.
I hope you’ve enjoyed and let’s hear from you. And always remember to check the “now box” when you are thinking about that task, project or homework or assigned duty rather than putting it off for later.
Tell us how you are overcoming your procrastination issues today.
Did you find these points useful?
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