Published: 08/19/2014 - Updated: 03/02/2019
The habit of postponing things can cause your “to-do” list to just keep accumulating, making it more and more difficult to get things done. Nevertheless, a change in attitude could be just what you need to become more productive, and to leave behind once and for all, all those pending chores.
It is called procrastination: leaving things undone that should be done at a certain time, be it out of forgetfulness, or because in place of it, we ended up doing something less important and urgent. In other words, procrastination is the difficulty in regulating and managing our own time.
Reasons that we put things off
There are several reasons as to why we choose to do something later, the most common of which would be personal problems. There could be other reasons as well, however, like a shortage of time, tiredness, insecurity, impulsiveness, and laziness.
Perfectionism can also be another reason that we get behind on things, making what should be a simple task, into something much more challenging.
There’s nothing “wrong” with postponing things. The real problem comes into play when we always postpone things, making it a habit. This in turn creates insecurity, depression, anxiety, and can even effect our self-esteem.
All of us have postponed something at some point in our lives. There are, however, some people who are more prone to developing the habit of postponing.
Insecure people who avoid criticism, also search for ways to avoid rejection.
People who are overly-confident about their abilities and personal resources, and people who generally think they have extra time. They then leave everything for the last minute, which causes them to end in tense situations, under a lot of stress.
People who tend to be very creative but lack the ability to execute their plans or activities. These people end up with an endless list of things to do.
Nevertheless, if this habit of leaving things for later begins to affect someone’s personal development, their personal, professional, or social development, creating isolation, they should most definitely see an expert about it.
How do I know if I’m a procrastinator?
If you identify with any of the following descriptions, it is quite possible that you are a procrastinator:
- You tend to leave everything for the last minute.
- You frequently say or think that you still have enough time to get everything done.
- You stayed in a relationship that has ended, hoping that someday things would change or get better.
- You leave even the simplest of tasks for later.
- You hope things improve by themselves, without acting or participating to change them.
- You avoid confronting someone because they make you feel uncomfortable.
- If you constantly talk about what you’re going to do, or you plan to do something, but never end up doing it.
Get to work NOW!
To stop procrastinating, there are several strategies that you could use.
One step at a time: Start with one activity. It is hard to dedicate your time to numerous activities at once. This makes it hard to concentrate, and things then begin to pile up. Try to focus on just one task at a time, and then plan the next, once you’ve finished the last task.
Define your goal: Vague ideas are confusing when it comes to following through with them. Focus on one concrete goal and define well what kind of results you would like to see. This makes choosing each step toward your goal much easier.
Get organized: If it’s hard for you to organize and schedule your time to get a certain activity done, try to establish a schedule that seems feasible for each activity. For example, if you’ve been putting off going to the gym, find a space of free time in your day to schedule it. This promise to yourself might just be what you need in order to complete your work.
Learn to face mistakes: Frequently, our own fear and insecurity of facing a mistake is what makes us decide to save it for later. However, you must keep in mind that mistakes provide us with experience, and making a mistake can often times be better than not doing anything at all.
Rest: If you are one of those people that, despite feeling like you’re active and working all day, you still have the sensation that you didn’t make any progress on your “chores”, it could be that you are just too exhausted. You must get good rest in order to work hard. This is also essential for good health.
Stop making excuses: “I didn’t have time”, “I couldn’t focus”, “I’ll do it when I get some spare time”. The truth is, this can happen to all of us. However, when we avoid doing something, and hide behind fake excuses, we really should take some time for reflection. Leaving things for later undoubtedly lets us stay in our comfort zone, but it also prevents us from progressing. Your built-up “to-do” list causes stress and other conflicts that only make it even harder to finish what you need to do.