“I really should stop procrastinating – I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
If these words ring true to you, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Procrastination is one of the world’s biggest causes of incomplete tasks. Every minute of the day, you can be sure that someone is putting off a report or assignment for tomorrow, or trying as skilfully as possible to avoid household chores – it’s just part of human nature. Or is it?
What causes us to procrastinate?
Like so many human behaviours, procrastination is a favourite topic for scientists and other researchers.
Modern psychology tells us that procrastination is probably quite normal – it’s the result of our brain’s advanced, organised side battling against our primitive habit of only doing something when the pressure is on. This will make sense to any procrastinator, because that’s what procrastination really is – you know you should be doing something right now, but you’re not doing it.
Why procrastination is a bad habit
Some people will tell you that procrastinators are lazy, dreamy, or immature – they lack the discipline and dedication to start a task and finish it. Unfortunately, many procrastinators are highly driven and intelligent people – they just have a bad habit of avoiding certain tasks.
Uncontrolled procrastination can lead to poor work results, including:
- Missed deadlines and rushed jobs
- Conflict between the procrastinator and colleagues or superiors
- Frustration because the procrastinator doesn’t know how to change their behaviour
How to fix it – now
If procrastination is so natural – and buried deep inside our brains – is there really a way to fix it? You might not be able to eliminate procrastination as a habit, but you can find ways to reduce it, and work it to your advantage. Here are some ideas:
- Prioritise tasks – spend less time doing tasks you don’t enjoy (less important tasks) and focus on those important tasks that earn you money.
- Motivate yourself – If you’re not feeling positive about your work, you’ll find any excuse to procrastinate. Approach your work with a “get it done” attitude and you’re halfway there.
- Work when you’re inspired – If you have a great business idea, write it down and start thinking of ways to develop it. If there’s nothing urgent on your desk, work on your new idea until it’s ready to share with colleagues or clients.
By staying motivated and doing your best work when you feel motivated, you’ll be able to beat the cycle of procrastination and achieve your goals.