In this article we’ll identify some of the reasons people procrastinate, accompanied by a few “procrastination busters”, which are questions that can help us find a way to overcome our procrastination.
Before we dive in, there are a few things I need to mention:
- This list is far from exhaustive – it is intended to help us think, rather than solve every problem
- Nothing on this list will work for everyone – what matters is that we find what works for us
- We can try more than one strategy at a time – but we don’t want to try too much all at once
So, now that’s out of the way, let’s go.
Reason: I Don’t Like Doing It
Consider: Why Not?
By understanding the reasons we don’t like the task you may be better positioned to either face or avoid the task.
Can You Find an Alternative?
- Can we find a more pleasant way to achieve the same result?
- Can wee swap the unpleasant job with someone who enjoys it more?
Can You Just Get It Over With?
There is an old saying that suggests that if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, it will allow you to face the rest of the day knowing the worst has passed! Not very pleasant, but the idea can be a powerful one.
Is the Thought of Doing It Worse than Just Doing It?
If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long.Mark Twain
Sometimes, making a start will help us see that the job we’ve been putting off really isn’t that bad after all.
Can You Make it More Palatable?
A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down.Mary Poppins
- Can we improve the environment where we’re doing the task?
- Can we reward ourselves for doing the job?
- Have we thought how much better we’ll feel when its done?
- Can we turn it into a game?
Some I met recently puts on her favourite TV show whilst ironing because it helps her get through a task she dislikes.
Reason: The Task is Too Hard
Does the Task Just Appear to be Too Hard?
- Have we tried it yet?
If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.Olin Miller
Will It Get Worse the Longer You Leave It?
Some types of task are hard to begin with, but they get worse with time. For example:
- relationship problems may fester
- sickness may get worse if untreated
- maintenance tasks take more effort if they are left
- debts grow if unpaid
So, the question is:
- Will it get harder if I leave it?
- Am I better off just biting the bullet and getting on with it anyway?
Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.George Claude Lorimer
Are You Able to Enlist Help?
- Is there anyone who can help with this task?
- Is there anyone who can take on another of our tasks so you can focus on this one?
- Will explaining it with someone else help?
Is It Possible to Break the Task into Smaller Pieces?
There is an old saying that goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.
- Is it better to do some than none?
- Can we do it bit by bit?
- Can we identify the part that is most important?
- If so, can we start with that bit?
Is It Really Beyond You?
Of course, there are times when, as a last resort, we just have to admit defeat.
Even then, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do.
- Is there something you can do instead?
Reason: I’m Exhausted
- Is getting the task done quickly really more important than your health?
- Can someone else do it, or at least help you?
- Can you do part of it now, and some later?
- Is there a way to do the task that will actually boost your energy levels?
- Would you be better able to complete the task after a little R & R?
Sometimes it is best to make like a sleeping dog and let yourself lie.
In an upcoming article we’ll look at a selection of other reasons for procrastination, including:
I Don’t Know What Is Expected Of Me
I Don’t Know How to Do It
So, I’ll see you then.
- Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.