There is a famous quote by Dickens which goes ‘Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him’. But I think procrastination is worse than that. It takes away more than time, it steals your confidence, your motivation and your future if you’re not careful. But what is procrastination?
Do you find that you say to yourself for weeks you’ll get that report done but now it’s the day before and you haven’t started, but you’re still busy fiddling with emails? Or you wanted to get into an exercise routine and lose weight, but you’ve put it off again thinking you’ll be more in the mood tomorrow?
Why do we procrastinate?
When we procrastinate, we believe that tomorrow will be different or that we will be different tomorrow.
It could be because you feel you’re not going to do a good job, so the underlying reason is a lack of confidence or maybe it’s linked to perfectionism. The latter is very common because not doing something also means never failing at it, and nobody likes to fail, least of all a perfectionist.
An underlying generalised disorder or a negative self-belief that you’re not good enough means that putting things off makes perfect sense to your subconscious. It sees failure as a threat, it wants to keep you safe from threats, so to avoid it you avoid doing the thing you may fail at.
If you procrastinate, you’re not lazy.
Lazy people simply don’t do anything and are fine with it. Procrastinators want to do something but can’t force themselves to start.
Procrastination is a problem when it becomes one of the main barriers blocking you from getting up, making the right decisions and living the dream life you’ve thought of.
We know that people regret the things they haven’t done more than the things they have done. And feelings of regret and guilt resulting from missed opportunities tend to stay with us for much longer.
When you procrastinate, you waste time that you could be investing in something meaningful.
People often think that they just need to manage their time better, but studies have found that procrastinators carry accompanying feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety with their decision to delay.
Procrastination can be a bit like getting drunk or comfort eating – a coping strategy to feel better by distracting ourselves with short-term pleasure and forgetting about a problem.
What can you do about it?
The underlying trigger for chronic procrastinators is always stress and/or anxiety and our inability to self-manage and regulate our emotions; and this makes so much sense when you think of it. If you’re anxious and stressed for whatever reason; maybe your child is sick, or you’re going through a divorce or our boss is a bully, then your mind already has too much to do. Of course, it’s going to balk at taking on something else, something challenging.
Avoiding doing something challenging or scary leaves the anxiety lying in the background, so we think we can ignore it and this underlying anxiety may lie at the root of your procrastination habit.
So in the first place address the underlying stress, anxiety, lack of confidence or perfectionism that is driving the procrastination. Only then can you put any environmental conditions and time management hacks in place that will make it less likely that you’ll fall into the procrastination habit, otherwise the underlying emotions are always going to trip you up.
Book a free, no-obligation call now to discuss how I can help you to get over your procrastination so that you can move ahead with your life and fulfil your true potential.
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