Procrastination Fear, Learning, Mental Health, Procrastination, Self-Help, Time management
Got your attention? Good. Here we go. Procrastination is always going to be a part of our lives. We will never get rid of it. We can manage it, restrain it, learn to do all manner of things better; but we will never, ever, eliminate procrastination from life. I also believe it shouldn’t be a goal to do so, either. Why? After all, I’m the guy who’s in the process of publishing the book on overcoming procrastination. True, but notice I advocate overcoming it, not eliminating it!
Procrastination, while uncomfortable and frequently disruptive, is an essential and often valuable indicator of a deeper issue or need in life that has not yet been brought to our full awareness or understanding. In another post I mentioned some causes of procrastination and discussed why it can be a useful way of understanding ourselves better. If you view procrastination as a true symptom and not a root problem, then it can be a useful tool for learning more about yourself. Compare procrastination to physical pain. Pain tells us that something is wrong. What would life be like if we could not feel pain? The results are tragic. Those unfortunate few who cannot feel physical pain risk losing fingers, toes, even arms and legs from injuries they didn’t know happened.
Procrastination can alert us to deeper more difficult personal issues and needs if we learn to listen to its message. I’m not advocating that we all give in to procrastination. We just need to learn a new approach to it. Learn to listen for its message. How? Here are some effective ways:
- Notice the times of the day when you are most prone to procrastinate. Is it early morning, mid-day, evening? Maybe your energy level is lowest at those times. It could be that you are not as able to focus during those hours of the day.
- Take note of the tasks you are doing, or not doing that you should, when you feel bad about procrastinating. You may find that the things you “should” be doing are things that you have no real desire to do. Why, then, are you involved in that activity in the first place? Life’s too short to waste time on things you don’t like.
Phone Phear! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Notice your emotional state when you are procrastinating. How do you feel, besides guilty? Fear is often a root cause of procrastination. Too often, fear of failure is tagged; but it can be fear of anything associated with the task. Someone who dreads talking on the phone will put off phone calls. One who hates confrontation will avoid resolving a conflict. Fear is a real cause.
- Check your internal “messages” when you are tempted to procrastinate. Are you telling yourself that you don’t know how to do the task or you don’t have the resources to do it? You may need to get some help or support in completing the task or re-evaluate the process for completing it.
We need to take a fresh look at our view of procrastination. It isn’t something we want to encourage, but it is something we should strive to eliminate either.
Let me know what your think. I value your reaction and feedback.
Procrastination Fear, Health, Mental Health, Procrastination, Self-Help, Time management
has a bad reputation. In fact, you probably found this blog because you felt so bad about your own procrastination
“problem” that you went searching for a way to resolve it and help you feel better. OK, fair enough. In a future post I will give you an answer that will resolve most of your guilty feelings about being a procrastinator. For now, though, let’s look at the possibility that some procrastination can be, *gasp!*, a good thing.
Procrastination: Good or Bad? (Photo credit: Tysh)
Procrastination is not always a bad thing. True, it can get you into trouble by causing you to miss an important deadline or disappoint someone important to you. It can, however, teach you something important. What if we completely trashed our current view of procrastination and began to see it as a “symptom” and not a “problem?”
When something is a problem, we have to correct it, cure it, or remove it. If it is a symptom, then we can step back and take a deeper look into what leads to the procrastination issue. If procrastination is viewed as a symptom, then we don’t place a value judgment on it, we look for the cause.
What, then, could be a cause of procrastination? What can procrastination teach us? I will present some of the major themes in this post and go into detail in the future. Some of the more common and significant causes of procrastination include:
- Lack of focus- We do not have a good grasp of what is important, why what we are doing is important, or if we are doing the right things the right way.
- Lack of desire- We just don’t care that much about what we think we should be doing. It is easy to get sidetracked on minor tasks when the big things aren’t that interesting or important to us.
- Lack of knowledge- We don’t have enough information or know enough about the task to accomplish it.
- Fear- Too often, this is attributed to “fear of failure,” but it can be fear of anything related to the task whether it is rational or not. For example, fear of confrontation can cause us to put off dealing with a relationship problem.
- Too much to do- Being overwhelmed with tasks or with life can cause even the strongest person to shut down.
Knowing what causes procrastination is an important first step in resolving the dissonance it creates in our lives. The next step is to learn what procrastination is trying to tell us. In the same way that physical pain tells us that something is wrong with a body system, procrastination tells us that there may be something wrong with our mental, social, or spiritual system. Some of the themes of this learning include:
- We need to slow down, shed some burdens, or focus in on the more important aspects of life. No one person can do everything. When we try to do too much, something is going to get left undone.
- We need to face up to our fears and learn to embrace them or overcome them. What we fear has the potential to change how we live if we learn from it.
- Do we need to be doing this in the first place? If the desire just isn’t there, why are you doing it?
- Learn what you need to know to do better next time. If you are procrastinating due to lack of knowledge, take the time to learn what you need to know, or break down the task into “knowable” and “doable” tasks.
This is a start to the discussion that will follow. Let me know what you think.
I googled “why i procrastinate” and came up with 1,670,000 hits. The first page showed articles and blog posts that touted, “10 reasons why we…,” and “6 ways we…,” all the way down the page, but not all of the lists of reasons matched up. My conclusion: we all have different reasons why we put things off ’til later.
One thing is consistent,though: all of us are procrastinators to some degree. The only people who say they are not also have a problem with the truth or reality. Procrastination is a universal issue; but is it a problem?
The fact that you are reading this post means you are either overly curious or you need help with your procrastination problem. Curiosity seekers: have fun. For those who need help: strap in for the ride. The posts that follow are excerpts from my upcoming interactive ebook, “28 Days to Overcome Procrastination… Starting Next Week!?!” (Yes I do mean “next week,” the book starts out with some prep work before you start the 28 days).
If you dare to take the 28 day challenge, I will work with you within the confines of the book as if you were one of my coaching clients. It’s as if I am talking directly to you, challenging you to learn, grow, and make changes in your life. It is interactive, meaning you go directly to material that applies to you based on your needs.
Keep coming back for more. If you would like to stay up-to-date on the book’s launch, sign up for email updates on the right side of the site.
I’m looking forward to working with you!