Of all the Bad habits I believe this one is the biggest hindrance to success, “never do today what you can put off for tomorrow”. Better yet, “never put off 'til tomorrow what you can avoid altogether!”
I don't know who coined these phrases, but they must have been a depressive. The symptoms that we face, such as fatigue and hopelessness, make it so easy to say to ourselves, "I'll just put this off until tomorrow when I feel better".
Before we know it, that deadline is creeping up on us and we're starting to panic. What's the best way to deal with panic? Hide your head in the sand and hope it goes away! Not really, but procrastination is an easy habit to fall into and as the panic mounts, so does the depression. The more depressed we get, the more we avoid reality.
Why We Procrastinate:
Why do we fall into the procrastination trap time after time? Because procrastination becomes a way, no matter how maladaptive, of coping with the emotions and physical symptoms that accompanies depression. It may bring some temporary relief, but we eventually wake up the following day and find that no brownies have dropped in overnight and done our work for us.
Which style of procrastination fits you?
• Organizing thoughts and actions and keeping on track with plans is difficult. (People with ADD/ADHD may fall into this category.)
• Tasks seem overwhelming so it's futile to even try.
• Hostile feelings towards someone cause you to want to punish them by putting things off.
• Routine and schedule causes you to feel rebellious.
• You fear disapproval.
These procrastination styles can overlap in one of four themes:
1. Self-Doubt - These people feel there are rigid standards about how thing ought to be done and they fear they will fail. They second-guess themselves and delay taking action.
2. Discomfort Dodging - This person avoids activities that will cause them distress, discomfort or anxiety. Rather ironically, the act of dodging the activity doesn't make it go away so tensions mount because of this avoidance.
3. Guilt-Driven - The person feels guilt over tasks undone, but rather than correct the original lack of action continues to procrastinate in order to not face up to the guilt feelings.
4. Habitual - The person has procrastinated so many times, it becomes an ingrained response. The person no longer thinks about why they do it, they feel it's just a part of them. It becomes an automatic response to say, "This is too hard", "I'm too tired", or to laugh it off as a character flaw.
Once you recognize your style of procrastination, you can take steps to stop it.
Time Management Tips to Beat Procrastination
- One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to get organized. Make lists, take a class in organization, or purchase an organizer. Do whatever works for you. One word of advice: follow the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid). If your organization system is too complicated, it will become just another task to avoid. Here's my own system. You are welcome to use it if it works for you.
- Make a list of what needs to get done. This can be listed in no particular order and will give you a handle on just what you need to accomplish.
- Prioritize these. My way of doing this is by deadlines. I arrange them in order of when they are due. You may also choose to rank them by how important it is to get them done. For example, paying your bills on time may be more important to you than cleaning out your closets. Do that first.
Now it’s time to assess the list, consider these 6 simple points:
1) Do you need to do all the work yourself?
2) Do you need to provide something to someone in order that they can do their part of the job?
3) Do you need to have a proper work plan before you start?
4) Try and calm any immediate fears about the standard of the work, and concentrate on what needs to be done, and how it is to be done.
5) identify what bits of the job seem to be frightening, and ask yourself why.
6) Ask yourself if you would benefit by talking about these aspects of the job with someone else – someone you think would find that job straightforward.
- Get yourself a calendar with room to write notes in. I personally use a bound notebook and write in dates as I go. I make pages with dates for long-term planning and also keep a separate list that I transfer my short-term goals to, let’s not forget Microsoft outlook.
- Take what's at the top of your priority list and determine how long it will take to accomplish it. If it's a quick task, put that down to be done the current day. If it will take a longer time, divide it into smaller tasks to be spread out over several days.
- Write this in your calendar with specific dates for accomplishing each. Include your deadline for completion of this task on your calendar as well.
- Keep filling your calendar until you have a time set aside to do each item while still meeting your deadlines. Be careful to not overbook yourself and allow plenty of time for delays. This will allow you to feel confident that you can accomplish all you need to in the time you have. Now you can relax and work on one item at a time without feeling you have to do it all at once.
- Another time management technique is to break down tasks into time chunks.
- In the office or at home, you might find that filing papers is one of those put off tasks that you leave and leave and leave.
- Allocate an hour for filing. Find as many of the bank statements as possible and file those in date order. Don’t worry that you won’t file all of them. You can allocate another hour for another day to finish it off. You will be gradually dealing with this task and it will be less of a problem.
Or, allocate an hour for working out how much money you are paying out each month and each year.
- Another day, allocate an hour for working out what expenditure is essential and what is not.
Just divide each job into a time chunk. This is called time boxing.
- These are methods of planning time and tasks to make them appear, and to actually be, more manageable. These work for people who just need to get themselves more organized. These work for very busy people who are very successful, as well as for the rest of us who still just always have things we don’t want to do but know we have to do them.