You have a huge project looming yet you can't tear yourself away from Kylie Jenner's latest posts to Instagram. Your quarterly report is due tomorrow afternoon, yet baking an apple pie from scratch seems like a much better (and tastier) idea for now. Urgent emails are filling your inbox, but catching up on your Harry Potter series is all you can think about. Sounds like procrastination and there's a reason you're putting important work off 'till the last minute.
Your tendency to not get on top of things is not (entirely) your fault, but with some insight into the issue, you can take control of your destiny. There are actual reasons you're procrastinating and ways to change your behavior. See if any of these 3 reasons sound familiar. You can get on a better path once you realize the roadblocks ahead of you. But remember, read this NOW, don't put it off for later!
You Don't Want to Do It
Sometimes procrastination occurs when we simply don't feel like doing something. Have you ever let the garbage pail nearly overflow because you didn't feel like bagging it up and taking it to the curb? It's not particularly pleasant, so putting it off as long as possible seems like a reasonable reaction. But as we all know, the trash won't wind up outside unless you finally take it out. And don't you always wish you've done it sooner (i.e. before it starts to stink)?
Same goes for work-related items. Generally speaking, we don't want to do something because we deem it unpleasant (or boring). As per Psychology Today, "The most significant predictor of procrastination is a task that's considered unpleasant, boring, or uninteresting." We can even become lazy about the task(s) at hand and never seem to find the motivation to make a dent in the project.
What to do? According to Forbes, perhaps this project isn't necessary at all. "If you really don't want to do it, could you abandon the task entirely and save yourself the wasted time in putting it off?" If this is really an option, then move on to something that will actually move the needle. However, if totally ditching the task isn't doable, develop a plan.
Psychology Today recommends, "One strategy is to divide and conquer. Shift your focus from the ultimate goal to a series of easy to complete, intermediate tasks. Another strategy is to form an if-then plan to automate goal striving—e.g., if I turn on the computer, I will first work on my assignment for 45 minutes."
While some tasks aren't the most exciting, they won't become any more intriguing as time passes. Just gear up and do it. Thinking about it hour after hour and day after day will only supply you with more reasons to procrastinate. Break up the task into digestible bits and it won't seem so terrible.
Failure is a Worry
While procrastinating when you've got so much to do seems counterintuitive, many of us do so when we are fearful that we may not be successful in the endeavor. The possibility of failure is one of the biggest triggers leading to procrastination.
As per Lifehack, "Of course you cannot fail at something when you don't do it at all. Unfortunately, this is an unproductive way of thinking. Facing your fear of failure will help you eventually overcome that fear, or learn to manage it."
Put it this way. You'll definitely fail if you don't do your work at all. But you have a chance to succeed or at the very least, learn something of value, if you delve in and try. Psychology Today notes, "When difficulties arise, people with weak self-confidence easily develop doubts about their ability to accomplish the task at hand, while those with strong beliefs are more likely to continue their efforts. When low self-confidence causes people to avoid activities, they miss opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills."
If you were assigned a project at work, your manager or boss believes in you. He or she trusts you have the abilities to succeed. Use their encouragement to fuel your desire to get to work and do a great job.
Without a sense of structure or proper planning, it's easy to put off a project that needs a timeline in order to work on it to completion effectively. You may not know where or how to start, so you just don't.
According to Psychology Today, "The collapse of the delay between impulse and decision inevitably favors impulse (e.g., checking Facebook instead of doing work); our easy online access makes urges easy to gratify. One solution to this is to design your environment in a way that makes your desired goal more likely to happen."
You can create a summary of the project or an organizational flow chart. Lay out the items that must be finished before you can move on to the other tasks. If you are working on a group project, assign specific tasks to the members of the group so the work doesn't seem so overwhelming.
In the meantime, remove yourself from distractions like social media and other work that's not as pressing, but more interesting to you. You can get to those things later. Give yourself the best chance to succeed – a clear mind and environment. You will then have the ability to focus and finish.