The common phrase, “Why do today what you can put off ‘til tomorrow,” is one loved by procrastinators. But why do we leave things until the last minute? Why do we put off work only to have it cause stress and anxiety later on? When we postpone our to-do lists, it often results in poor-quality production and consequently, low self-esteem. We’ve put together a list of reasons why we procrastinate alongside some potential solutions to maximize productivity.
1. "Bite-sized tasks"
Often times, we procrastinate because the jobs that are given to us are irksome or something that we find incredibly boring. Of course, no one wants to do work that is annoying or dull, but wading around this work will make it all the more difficult to accomplish. According to Psychology Today, one way to combat tedious work is to break up large projects into little, bite-sized tasks. The site says, “Shift your focus from the ultimate goal to a series of easy to complete, intermediate tasks…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.”
2. Organizational Obstacles
Not everyone is organized with planners or schedules nor can they adapt to organizational skills in the same way as another person. People who procrastinate don’t always situate themselves to the methods of non-procrastinators. It’s best to try multiple different ways to time manage, but don’t expect that the way that works best for your coworker works best for you.
3. Lying to Ourselves
People who procrastinate tend to tell themselves that they will get something done knowing that they won’t. Psychology Today’s “Why We Procrastinate” articles states, “Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately, they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources avoiding.” If you tend to say you work well under pressure and don’t, then it’s time to confront that mantra and figure out new routes to take in order to accomplish tasks in a timely manner.
4. Our Perspective of Time
As stated in our “6 Tips for Managing Your Time during the Busyness of the Holidays” article, one reason we procrastinate is because we feel as though there isn’t enough time to get things done. The first step to combat this feeling is to remember that time is a myth and our perceptions of time vary from person to person. If you’re finding yourself with built up anxiety over time, then it’s definitely time to step back and analyze how much time you spend thinking about time rather than getting work done.
5. Non-Physical Distractions
Probably the main reason we procrastinate is distractions. What things are we doing when we could be getting work done? This is not to say that there’s no time in the day to have a cocktail after work or to go to a movie on the weekend, but it is to say that if you are feeling really behind on work, maybe it’s best to look at the way your time is being spent. What activities or emotions feel distracting or in the way? Is there a possibility to put a few pleasantries on pause in order to get a project done and then reward yourself afterwards with a recreational activity? Putting aside the immediate gratification of a reward or distraction will ultimately feel even more enjoyable once your work is done.
Do you have other reasons why you procrastinate? Other solutions? Comment below.