Ironically, procrastination is a problem that we all seem to put off dealing with. Many people will keep putting off their obligations for as long as they can, even if they are fully aware that their lives would be so much easier, if only they were able to do everything they want to do on time.
Procrastination is something that affects people of all ages. Many college students put off studying for an exam or writing a paper for as long as they can, and then they have to pull a ridiculous all-nighter to compensate. Office workers set aside boring paperwork and avoid it until their bosses demand it at the end of the month, making them spend extra hours in the office for no good reason.
This type of behavior is not only unhealthy, but it also negatively affects the quality of your work in most cases.
Procrastination plagues us all, and in today’s world it is especially pronounced. Have you ever sat down at your computer to get some work done, but instead, ended up spending four hours commenting on your friends’ Facebook statuses and watching funny Youtube videos? With so many distractions begging for your attention on the Web, you need to be more adamant than ever these days about avoiding procrastination.
Remedying this behavior is of the utmost importance, not only for the sake of your time and sanity, but also for the sake of your success. Not getting your work done on time and handing in sloppy work to your teacher or your boss after you’ve rushed to get everything done last minute does not speak kindly of your work ethic or your ambitions. Procrastination can even affect your personal life. How many times can you cancel a movie date with your significant other because of work that has piled up without annoying them?
Procrastination is just like any other problem in life — you need to first admit that you have the problem before you can fix it. And once you admit your problem, you must remain steadfast in your intentions to change your ways.
Here’s what you must do if you want to nip your procrastinating ways in the bud, once and for good.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
This is the simplest and easiest way to get rid of your procrastinating habits. Once you sit down and see what you gain and what you lose from this behavior, it should be clear as day that procrastination is not doing anything to make your life easier or better.
The only pro of procrastinating is that you are not doing any work – you are relaxing. However, that does not negate the fact that this work needs to get done. When you are not doing the work, you are not actually freed from the work; you are just avoiding it and putting it off for another time. So, this pro of procrastination is not really much of a benefit, outside the temporary satisfaction of relaxation and not doing work.
What you might not realize is that the less you procrastinate, the more time you will have to relax. The cons of procrastination heavily outweigh the pros. When you are putting off doing work during the time in which you are supposed to be getting work done, that means that you are not only wasting that time, but you are also cutting into your relaxation and enjoyment time, which will now have to be used to get this work done.
Sitting in the cubicle and reading Twitter posts all day might seem more fun than working, but now you are going to have to make up that time. So even though it seems that you have more time to relax when you are procrastinating, the truth is that the more you put off things, the less free time you actually have.
Now that you have realized that nothing good can come of this, it is time to get organized and change your ways. Whether you have regular working hours or you are a student, you have a schedule. Make sure that you are aware of this schedule and map out your obligations. If you are working 9 to 5, get all of your work done in that period.
If you have two hours to study after classes, make sure that you use this period of time to study. Recognize when it is that you should be working and then make sure you are ready to work at those times.
Make a Plan
Once you are aware of what portion of your day should be allotted for getting work done and what part of the day should serve as your free time, now you have to make a plan for the constructive use of your work time. Making lists is a very good thing to do. Map out all of the obligations that you have for the coming week.
Once you have all of these tasks on paper, take a look at them and figure out how much time you will need to do each of them. This plan serves as a reminder and it should be followed as closely as possible. By now, you should be fully aware that sticking to this plan is what you need to do in order to improve the quality of your work and the quality of your life as well.
Sticking to the plan is made easier by giving yourself rewards for reaching your goals. For example, you are a blogger and you need to write two blogs today. You know that it takes you two hours to write one blog, so you will need four hours of continuous work to finish what you have to do for the day. If this is the case, set aside five hours.
Finish one blog post, then reward yourself with an hour of off time for surfing the Web and relaxing. In this off time, call a friend and ask them if they want to grab a drink at the bar in three hours. Now you have obligations, a plan and a reward looming in the distance once you have finished. Get the second blog post done in time to meet your friend, and then reward yourself with a night out.
By realizing the benefits of getting work done on time, making a plan, completing your work on time, and then reaping the rewards of your hard work in the end, you are conditioning yourself to expel procrastination from your life forever. Now get back to work.
How do you deal with procrastination? Share your tips with us.
Photo by SuperFantastic.
This has been my biggest challenge in both my work life and personal life. It is one I have yet to conquer, but I continue to try nonetheless. This post hits the nail on the head, but I think most procrastinators are still waiting for that “magic potion” to cure them of their ills.
The urge to procrastinate never go away. So, you must be prepared to battle it head on almost every day. I find the Pomodoro Technique to be very helpful in this battle. Promise yourself 20 minutes of focused work. Afterwards, you will often feel motivated and inspired seeing what you just accomplished, which actual instills you with the desire to do more work.
I’m a cognitive psychologist specialising in productivity habits. I have designed a web-app I think you’d really benefit from. It’s a way to integrate the Pomodoro Technique into your life as a habit. Please do take a look, I offer free productivity mentorship in exchange for feedback 🙂
I like the idea of setting up rewards. I use this all the time. It really motivates you to finish to finish the work you are doing and obligate yourself to the timeframe you assigned.
I also believe that the faster you finish your work, the more time you will have for relaxation.
Most of my friends tend to work late everyday and in the end of the week, they have not accomplished much because their schedule are all over the place. My suggestion is to stick to your schedule. You’ll accomplish a lot more.
Thanks for the great insights. 🙂
Thank you for this post. It’s just what I needed to manage all of my tasks. This is an amazing post.
Goes unsaid, this write up truly hits the nail on the head, and i every second day set up a resolution to overcome this, and am sure all would agree that its an herculian task to overcome procrastination.
Thanks for this awareness, and i wish to read more of such hammers. Focused 20 mts every day promised is what i loved. Thank you my friend.
I just used reading this article as an excuse to put off working for an extra five minutes.
I’m glad you guys enjoyed the article.
I think it’s most important to remember that you really need to be committed in order to stop procrastinating, and noticing improvements in your daily life is one of the best motivators for continuing to battle against procrastination until it is no more.
Thanks for the great article david… Procastination is an evil which kills our valuable time. Rewarding our accomplishment is the great way to feel satisfied for the work we did and motivates us to make next work joyfull!!
I love this article, so I’m assuming there needs to be a part 2, making this a part 1 of a series? I don’t know what the series would be titled, but I do know that part 2 should have a section on reflecting on the actions of part 1 and then doing it all over again.
I brought this to mind because eventually you’ll become stagnant in your habit of your plan. Once you have a plan and you set it into action there should be a time where you give yourself a moment to adjust to the change to help revise your plan to make it more effective.
I love where you started and I really hope you can help us expound on this idea.
Great post David.
I learned from Ann Sieg that before we go to bed, we must write 5 things to prioritize the next day. Write the least you want to do in the first number and the one love the most in the last. In my experience, I avoid procrastination by putting a check beside the things that I accomplished for the day thus rewarding myself in return because I know that I am being productive.
Good thoughts man. I liked the idea of setting three hours aside and then arranging a meet with them. Good way to stay on track.