Procrastination, Part I: Why We Do It!

I come off as highly organized and efficient but I have a dark secret: I am a major procrastinator. Yes, I do believe it’s an American epidemic.

All kidding aside, putting off the inevitable until the last second is a horrible habit to get into – creating a lot of unneeded stress, and hardly ever leading to a positive outcome.

To better understand how to beat this bad habit, we need to understand why we put things off in the first place.

Did you ever notice how those activities you put off have a couple of common threads? Here are three things I have learned about procrastination:

  1. It’s something we don’t like to do. No one delays eating dessert, but many of us may be less passionate about eating our veggies. As a rule, the things we dread doing, we tend to avoid. For me, because I am so relational, I have a habit of deferring those activities that involve my working in isolation – at a desk hunched over my computer or books. I much prefer working with and around others. So, guess what? I’ll get all those interactive tasks out of the way before I finally get around to that “lonely” project – usually at the last possible moment.
  1. It’s something we don’t know how to do (well). Oftentimes, the activity we keep putting off is not one of our strengths. It makes sense, right? It’s human nature to dread those activities that we feel shine a spotlight on our weaknesses. It’s much more fun to take on those projects which we know well – and where we know we’re adept. Case in point: I put off launching this blog for three or four years. Not only was it intimidating to bare my soul and put myself “out there” in this space, but I am also not a strong writer (not relational enough – see #1 above). So, I kept delaying and delaying and delaying … Eventually, I put that fear (as opposed to blog ideas) on the shelf and I’m glad I did. Once you start to see those activities that you don’t know as well as areas of new opportunities, you’ll be less likely to say, “I’ll do that tomorrow” (and tomorrow never comes).
  1. It’s something we’re scared to do. Often, we avoid these tasks not necessarily because we lack proficiency, but because we have a fear of failure. There are elements of my position that are more intimidating and that I have a propensity to put off — things like marketing, and self-promotion. The act of executing on any project or speaking engagement is far from terrifying……it’s exhilarating. But for me, the process of self-promotion is intimidating and uncomfortable. So I go to war with procrastination.

Remember: Putting whatever “IT” is off, doesn’t make it go away. GETTING IT DONE DOES!!! A bad habit like procrastination leads to decreased productivity, decreased quality of work and decreased engagement. For these reasons, we have to manage our procrastination.

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you ways to banish procrastination. And when I say it will appear as a blog post “tomorrow,”            I mean it! NO procrastination here …

 

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