Procrastination: is cited as the main cause for people
failing to move forward in their lives. It keeps us stuck
in meaningless drudgery, lack of hope and can incapacitate
our minds.That is one hell of a powerful statement which
unfortunately holds true for many people across the globe.
So basically what is it.
It is the selective decision to focus on an activity which we
enjoy, as opposed to doing something which we don’t want to do.
Basically an avoidance tactic whereby we replace an undesired
task, with a different one. We then use the second task as an
excuse to justify not doing the first.
However, putting off important tasks can lead to very serious
stress issues arising at a later time.
For the purpose of this small article we will be looking at how to
recognise procrastination. Some of the symptoms associated
with it. Some exercises on how to break state when in it and finally
some avoidance tactics to help overcome it.
How to recognise procrastination.
We’ll run four scenarios at you and see if you can recognise where
the procrastination comes into play. A brief explanation follows each.
Here you have a schedule which requires you to accomplish a series
of tasks. For some reason you feel extreme anxiety at having to do
the work. So much so that you start to put these tasks to the back
of your work list. You also begin to do anything else that takes your
mind from these tasks. In so doing your sense of anxiety builds up.
Reaching to the point where making any decision to do the tasks
becomes an issue.
What your seeing is a situation where the perceived pressure of the
tasks, produces a stress reaction. This invokes a delay strategy,
which in essence overwhelms the mind to the point where any form
of action becomes almost impossible to take.
In this case we have a task which needs to be done, yet it is
inconvenient as you are doing other things more interesting.
Consequently the task gets buried under a blanket of distractions.
Where it lies either completely forgotten or it re-emerges as a
major issue which needs to be dealt with urgently.
In this situation we are seeing an avoidance strategy, where the
importance of what we are doing now. No matter how trivial the act.
Takes priority over doing the important task.
Here the task has a specific time by which it needs to be done.
But it can wait as there is no rush, so like the previous example
it gets buried under distraction and forgotten. Only this is the one
which re-emerges to bite us hard.
There also the similar situation, which is the goal or task we have
in mind to accomplish. We approach it with all the good intent in
the world. But for whatever reason we never get around to doing it.
We keep putting it off and it finally gets buried.
Here there is a time factor element that creates a false sense
As such the task gets completed but under serious duress,
or it never gets finished and in many cases never gets started.
Here the task has been worked on and in many cases finished.
However the result is never good enough for individual working
on it. So they keep working until satisfied that it meets their
requirements before being considered as done.
Failing to meet those requirements, can induce serious stress
reactions for these types of individuals.
Having high expectations and constantly criticizing your work.
Can actually lead to you never getting anything finished.
There are many things which trigger procrastination. Unfortunately,
some forms of procrastination can be so ingrained that serious
issues can be present, which inhibit the individuals ability to
change. So professional guidance may be needed. The majority
simply involve changing the way we choose to think about the
The following list shows a few reasons why we procrastinate
See if any of the above can be applied to those examples.
Now we recognise and know what procrastination actually. We
can take control of it.
At it’s absolute basic procrastination is simply choices we make.
Choices which can be changed when required.
Now The following techniques show we can break the patterns
which control our tendencies to procrastinate.
In the majority of cases the answer to avoiding procrastination.
Is to simply take action.
The following series of steps is a good place to begin.
Define the task: Look at the task to understand
what needs doing.
Break the task down: Create small segments.
Create an order of Importance: Prioritise each segment.
Set up a timetable: Create a schedule for each segment.
Choose the environment: Set up a location where the
work is to be done.
Select the timespan: Choose the times where you
can do the work.
Reward Yourself: Treat yourself when the job is done.
Looking at our problems in this way dilutes many of the stress
related issues brought about by problem avoidance. In analysing
the problem we give ourselves options on how to deal with it.
The intent is now there to get the task done.
What do these tasks accomplish: by defining the task we are looking
to see what needs to be done. This opens up an understanding of
the task and takes away some of the issues/fears associated with it.
This examination should also reveal any component pieces in the task.
Various aspects which need to be done before the task is complete.
Assign each component a priority of importance.
This defines the order in which each component is done.
Organise a time frame that each part can be done in.
As an example component one will take 15 minutes to complete,
whilst component 2 may take 10 minutes etc.
Choose the workspace where you can get the work done, where
you are comfortable and will receive no interruptions.
Select the times when you want to actually do the work. If you have
a spare half hour do components one and two. Then do the rest
when you can. This way you spread the work over a time period
of your choosing.
Finally when the work has been done and the task completed.
Give yourself a treat for having got the job done. This kind of
approach can produce some seriously positive results. The more
you do the stronger you become.
PURRRR: This is an acronym for a pattern which
works as in a very similar way.
When you have a pressing task that is causing a stress reaction
and are having difficulty in facing it PAUSE
Stop your desire to procrastinate by refusing to act on the URGES.
Think about what you feel tempted to do to avoid the issue.
Slow down, maybe even write it down. REFLECT
It is not unusual for us to have an internal argument
about the course of action to take Use this self talk
to evaluate your options. REASON
Once the results of your self talk have been thoroughly thought
through. Create an action plan on how your going to move
The best laid plans can occasionally falter, in the event
of this occurrence we may need to revisit our
plan and reassess it. REVISION
These are support frameworks you can build up to help with
identifying issues where procrastination takes place.
However there may be times when you find yourself in moments
of procrastination. The following ideas offer a quick and immediate
The 5 minute plan. This is a simple strategy where you simply try
an activity for five minutes only before moving on to another activity.
What tends to happen is once we focus on one task. It expands to
fill our thoughts and actions. Till we either complete it, or get a
sizeable portion of it done.
The second is the DO IT NOW approach. This is simply
being sufficiently self aware and deciding in
the moment to take action to deal with the issue.
In these ways you create an environment which supports you to
make objective decisions, the motivation to get the work done.
Finally the action attitude to get started on the task which needs doing.
Hope this little article is helpful
All the best