Procrastination is always going to be a part of our lives. We will never get rid of it. We can manage it, restrain it, learn to do all manner of things better; but we will never, ever, eliminate procrastination from life. Writers are considered one of the worst procrastinators.
In the process of writing this article, I have checked my social media feeds so many times, participated in a never ending Ronaldo vs Messi debate, opened my mail box despite knowing there would be nothing new and even played Fifa to have a stretch break.
So why do we procrastinate? To try to find an answer to my dilemma, I have come up with 10 reasons why we procrastinate, and, hopefully, some ways to get over this affliction of ours. Check out the books I have read on the subject if you want to learn more.
There are two aspects of fear that cause us to procrastinate. The first is the fear of failure. We are afraid that no matter how hard we try we are going to fail, so why bother? As human beings we all have this fear.
The second is the fear of success. Success brings with it great change, and it is this change that we are afraid of. In order to stop procrastinating you need to stop being afraid, whether it is the fear of failure or the fear of success that is holding you back.
For most of us, success is unusual, out of our comfort zone. So we are afraid, maybe subconsciously, to succeed. Once we recognise this in ourselves we can make changes in our thinking to assist us in coping with success.
The task you are trying to accomplish may involve a skill set that you are afraid you do not possess. Hence, you dread the thought of attempting something you can’t do and avoid doing it for as long as possible. I find I do this a lot more now I am older and am not sure why I find some tasks so daunting.
The key here is to break your larger task down into several smaller tasks. These smaller tasks will seem easier to accomplish which will allow you to make faster progress on the overall project. You can take baby steps and complete your project rather than abandoning it altogether.
You might resent the imposition of responsibility. You might not enjoy office hours, so writing in this manner makes you want to procrastinate. In order to end this situation, it is very important that you give yourself a reward of some kind in exchange for finishing your task off as early as possible.
This will help you associate the completion of work with that feeling of receiving a reward instead of the imposition of responsibility and your productivity will shoot through the roof. It is important to trick yourself into thinking that the work you are doing is not actually work.
Instead of scolding yourself for not getting something done, reward yourself for when you finish your project.
In order to complete a task you need to have some sort of motivation to actually do it. If you don’t have any incentive to do it you are inevitably going to start procrastinating, and this is going to delay the project further. If it is a lengthy, time consuming project we may forget why we are putting in so much effort and give up before we have finished. I am guilty of this.
You need to think about your reasons for doing this project. This is your motivation. If you started a project, chances are you had very good motivation the first time around. You just need to rediscover this motivation and start working towards your goal once again.
You might be trying to do too many things at once. This is understandable, as there might be a great many projects that you want to get off the ground. I am guilty of this as well. Start too many tasks and never finish any of them.
However, if you focus on too many things at the same time you are going to end up devoting less time to work than you would have otherwise. Your mind would end up feeling stretched to breaking point, and if you don’t focus on one single project the inevitable end result will be that you won’t get anything done at all.
You need to realise what is happening and take one task at a time and complete it, then move on to the next task. Each task will get done better.
Either you are trying to do too much or you are working too hard on a single project. Either way, being tired or fatigued is a big reason for procrastination. You might wake up thinking of working, but will get only very minimal work done throughout the day. Your workflow will be reduced to a trickle and you will only get more tired as a result.
If you are feeling fatigued, take a day off no matter what deadlines are approaching. Taking a day where you don’t work at all, where you don’t even think about work, will help you get even more work done when you start again the following day. I take a day off on the weekend and spend it will family and friends. I always come back refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Sometimes, the work you are trying to accomplish is so great that you just don’t know where to start. If you are facing this problem, just remember that the first step is always the hardest.
Once you take that first step and actually start working on your project, you are going to be able to finish it in no time. The concept of taking the first step is a lot more difficult than actually doing it, you will hear the same thing if you ask experienced writers as well!
This makes me think of writers, before we used computers, sitting in front of a typewriter with a sheet of paper in it, staring at a blank page.
One of the biggest causes of procrastination is perfection. Or rather, the correct term here would be obsessive perfectionism. You might start finding minute errors in your work and this would end up making you procrastinate. You will stop seeing the point in working when your work is not perfect. In such situations you need to realize that perfection is an arbitrary notion.
If you have started something, it means you have the aptitude for it and this means that you can finish what you have started even if it has minor imperfections in it. We humans are an imperfect lot, but it doesn’t hurt to aim for perfection, but don’t let it stop you from accomplishing a project.
If your role models procrastinate, you are probably going to end up procrastinating too. In order to stop yourself from having such role models you need to have a very objective view of how work should be done.
Does your role model take months to write a short story? If this is the case, you probably need a new role model. You need to surround yourself with people that have a positive influence on your life, only then will you be able to get past your procrastination and finish what you are trying to do.
Any friend who wasn’t positive about what I was trying to achieve, I removed from my circle of friends. We all need people around us who are going to help and support us in our endeavours, not hinder.
There is nothing wrong with writing at your own pace. However, you should also realize that certain projects shouldn’t take weeks or months to write. If you continue to write at a pace so languid that it takes too long to complete work, your future projects will start suffering. You are going to have to speed up and finish things off, because the longer you take the slower you are going to end up working!
I have read some books on the subject which have helped me tremendously in getting more things done and improve my life. Check them out here for more inspiration.
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So, what do you think of my 10 reasons why we procrastinate. I am positive this article will help you to control a few of them and help you become a better writer.
Do you have any other reasons to procrastinate? How do you overcome procrastination and finish a project? Tell me in the comments below. I am very interested in your ideas.