Sometimes we tend to have a feeling of not carrying out a task that is expected of us at a particular time. We delay or put off tasks until the last minute.
I am also guilty of this very act. When I ought to be working on an assignment, with the clock ticking towards the deadline, I will be doing something entirely different or irrelevant from the particular task at hand.
We can see a student who postpones studying for an exam until a night before, even when he wanted to study earlier; a person with months to submit an important application but delays until the day before the deadline to work on it, despite repeatedly promising that they will do it early enough.
Similarly, a person planning to start a new habit e.g. dieting, exercising or saving money but instead making excuses to wait for months, even though they know that it would be better to just start. Other times it takes the form of promising yourself that you’d start a project (writing a book or building a business) soon, but never make any progress towards it and instead just fantasize about your future success.
If you find yourself in any of the above categories, then you are procrastinating and not being lazy. Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks. When we procrastinate, we are not only aware that we are avoiding the task in question but also, that doing so is probably a bad idea. Yet, we do it still. Procrastination can have a major negative impact on your job, your grades and your life.
One reason people procrastinate is the notion that they have to be inspired or motivated to work on a task at a particular moment. Truth be told, there is never a right time to be in the right frame of mind to do certain tasks because it will never come and the task might never get completed.
Some people believe that they work better under pressure as it makes them to feel challenged and motivated. This makes them put off the task till the last minute.
Another reason is to satisfy their emotions. Yes, to avoid the negative feelings they have towards the task such as boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment and self doubt. As a result people become indifferent about a task, not knowing what needs to be done, not wanting to do something or not caring when something gets done. Tasks also get delayed because they have trouble making a decision and acting on them. According to Dr. Tim Pschyl, procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem.
Another reason for procrastination is that people tend to be motivated more by instant or immediate gratification or rewards than they are by long term rewards. People tend to value immediate reward more highly than future rewards. For example, the immediate reward of staying in bed and watching a movie is more appealing than the long term reward of studying for an exam, which would take much longer to accomplish.
Similarly, many young people know that saving for retirement in their 20s and 30s is important, but the benefit of doing so is years off. It is easier for the present self to see the value of buying a new pair of shoes than saving $150 for a 60 years old you.
People also procrastinate because they ignore the value of time. Everyone has a limited time to spend on earth. In light of this, time is the most valuable commodity you have. It’s not money; unlike time, you can borrow money, save, or earn more. You can’t do that with time. Every single second you waste is gone forever. It is important you value time and use it wisely. Seneca said, “While we waste our time hesitating and postponing, life is slipping away.”
Procrastination also comes in when one lacks self discipline and self control to follow their set goals and objectives. Procrastination blocks you from getting up, making the right decisions and living the dream life you have thought of.
Here are ways we can overcome procrastination
- Have a to-do list daily
- Set specific and realistic goals
- Make the consequences of procrastination more immediate
- Eliminate distractions
- Implement your plan
I will end with what Roy Bennett said, “Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Be brave and take risks. Your life is happening right now.”