Have you ever had a pile of paperwork that has taken up residency on your desk for weeks but continue putting off diminishing the stack? Have you ever waited for the very last minute to pack for a big trip, to complete a huge assignment or prep for a meeting? If so, you may have deemed yourself a proud member of the procrastination crew. But, I’m here to tell you that you may be very wrong.
I have had all of those experiences numerous times and have always blamed it on being a procrastinator. But many times in reality it wasn’t procrastination at all. It has been noted that 95% of us actually do procrastinate to some degree at many points in our lives but what you have been experiencing may not be simple procrastination.
Procrastination can be defined as putting off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. Professor of psychology Dr. Tim Pychyl points out “all procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.” So what if the delay that causes you to wait until the last minute to complete a project is not procrastination at all and there are other reasons for the delay? That’s good for you! Because if you change the way you look at your delay’s, you can actual take action. These are some other reasons for delay, besides procrastination and what you can do about them.
1.The enthrallment factor: If you often find yourself becoming so enthralled in a project you may not want to stop it to begin something else, even if that something else is enjoyable.
Personally, when I am working on something and am so invested in what I’m doing at the time, it’s difficult for me to stop one thing to pick up another. I’ve noticed that what I usually call procrastination is usually just not wanting to stop one task to start another. I’m not purposely avoiding my other tasks at hand, I am just so immersed in what is currently in front of me that I don’t want to put it down. For instance, I love writing and I do not want to stop writing in my blog right now to get ready for a conference that I’m excited about attending.
Solution: Set a timer. This helps me tremendously in stopping things to start another. Give yourself a set amount of time to work on something as much as you want and when the timer goes off continue on to the next task. I’m successful with this about 95% of the time, the other 5% is pure stubbornness (something else I have to work on!)
2. Overwhelm: As entrepreneurs we often have soooo many ideas and goals to accomplish that you may experience times that you have no idea where to start! The overwhelm is real! As a result of being overwhelmed even with the idea of starting, often important tasks get pushed to the side in lieu of working on other equally important tasks.
Solution: Learn to say no to more tasks and distribute those you can. Most people take on too much because they feel the best person for the job is them. This may be the case, but only if you are able to actually focus. If you are overwhelmed with other pressing tasks to be done this pressure may make you work at a less than optimal level. If possible allow others to take over less essential items and focus on those that require your special touch.
3. Fear: The fear of the unknown can literally kill any motivation or ambition. When we fear something we can put it off pretty much forever! But before you decide to deem your putting off starting that blog, becoming that great speaker you dreamed of being or producing that business idea as simple procrastination, identify it for what it is.
If you are fearful there is nothing wrong with that. There is a lot of fear involved with beginning a new journey. Fear can cause us to stagnate not because we don’t want to do something, but because we are afraid to do it. I talk a little bit about the various types of fear associated with starting a business and how you can overcome them here.
Solution: Simply put – do it scared! Fear is an indicator, not a dictator, so don’t allow it to dictate your life. Identify exactly what you are afraid of so you know how to overcome the issue. Unless, your goal is to do something life threatening, fight through the fear and don’t allow run your future.
4. Lack of preparedness: If you don’t feel you have the tools necessary to complete a task then this can put your start date on stall for a while. Not feeling as though you have the knowledge, grit or necessary tools to start something will put you at a disadvantage when starting a new journey.
Solution: If your goal today is to mop your floors, but you don’t own a mop, most likely you aren’t going to have clean floors until you do one of two things. 1. Get a mop 2. figure out a way to clean your floors without a mop. Take some time to research the tools you will need to obtain to be and feel adequately prepared to complete the task at hand! Identify what it is you need to get started and get to it. If you have to take a couple of courses get enrolled if you have the time and money or make a plan to move forward. Make sure you don’t procrastinate on this step though, get to work as soon as possible. Often times we want the end result without the work and that just is not the way the world works.
5. Distractions: These could be actual physical or mental distractions. When you aren’t able to focus on one task at a time it prevents optimal productivity. Long story short, if you are continually interrupted by emails, people or other distracting events you won’t be able to thoroughly complete the task at hand. Also, when we keep our head full of other tasks and to do’s it can prevent you from getting started or completing many others.
Solution: If possible nix the distractions, if it’s as simple as turning off your television, closing your email or shutting your office door then do so. However, many of us have other things pulling at us, like little people or husbands or employees. We can’t just kick the people we love out of our lives because we need a minute of quiet to work, but we can work around them or set up a time when we aren’t to be disturbed. If what you deal with is mental clutter, I talk a little bit about that here.
6. Sadness: While the majority of the time what we feel is not related to this, I’ve been there! When my father passed, I was none too keen about doing much of anything except laying in the bed playing games on my phone. I didn’t want to think about doing anything because I was avoiding life totally. Our emotions can affect our productivity especially if we are sad or even depressed.
Solution: Do what you can. If you can’t do much then put it down take a break and don’t push through. It may seem counterproductive but when you are feeling down and sad the work you produce may not be your best. While, in some cases once we start on something we may feel a little better about life. Feelings of sadness are a normal part of life, but if what you are feeling is depression, speaking to someone you trust or a clinical professional is a necessity.
Have you been identifying as a procrastinator, but now see that your hindrance is more closely related to one of the above statements? Let me know if the solutions helped in any way in the comments below or send me an email, I’m always happy to hear about success stories! firstname.lastname@example.org