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Taming Procrastination Habits

Can’t seem to finish that wall mural that’s half completed? What about the lyrics for that Bachata music you wrote? If you can’t quite get to it, and know you should, you’re procrastinating. Truth be told, you’re not alone. According to Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, about 20% of people may be chronic procrastinators. While this is a problem that is usually equated to laziness, scientists believe that there are various factors working behind the scenes in the subconscious that drive a person towards procrastination. 

Good news is this is a very common problem that can be successfully tamed. The journey towards taming procrastination habits starts with understanding why you do it. So, the first important question is - 

Why does procrastination happen? 

Procrastination is triggered by several things, which include:

·     Need for instant gratification

Human beings are wired to seek instant gratification, which is the desire to experience fulfillment or pleasure without deferment or delay. Basically, it’s a matter of wanting it now, not later. Research suggests that compared to delayed gratification, instant gratification has a stronger effect on human behavior.

·     Need for perfection

Perfectionism and procrastination often go hand in hand. Perfectionists procrastinate the most as they set a high expectation bar for themselves. As such, they are often afraid of not being to meet those high standards. So, they rather put off doing what they ought to do rather than try and fail. 

·     Inability to do a good job

Avoiding doing something also means never failing at it, and no one likes to fail. If you try and fail, you’ve sacrificed the potential you thought you may have had. Not knowing exactly how to perform a specific task often brings about the fear of doing badly, thus leads to procrastination.

·     Busy schedules

When you overbook your calendar, you’ll find yourself doing things that you love doing and putting off those that you don’t like doing. 

Tips to Tame Procrastination

1.    Create a clearly defined plan

An enormous task can feel daunting due to the amount of work involved. What you need to do is to make a plan for how to accomplish the mammoth task. With a modest and clearly defined plan, it‘ll be much easier to take the first step.

2.    Figure out how to do a task

You can delay starting a task if you’re not sure of how to go about it. You may never get started on a task unless you figure out how to do it. 

3.    Create a productive environment

Think of the conditions you work best in and then aim to create those conditions. In addition to having a suitable physical space, you also need create the necessary mental space by eliminating unnecessary distractions.

4.    Set alarms and reminders

When you’re avoiding a task, it’s easy to forget about it. You’re much more likely to perform the task when you’ve set aside a specific time to perform it and have put it in your calendar with an alarm. 

5.    Build in accountability

Writing down your plans and checking things off as you accomplish them will raise your odds of doing enormous tasks as you’ll be more accountable to yourself. In addition, you should tell at least one person about your plan. By doing so, you’ll want to avoid the discomfort of being asked why you haven’t accomplished the task yet. 

It’s difficult to change your procrastination habits, but taking the above five steps can help to boost your willingness to do whatever it is you often put off. 

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Brianne Palensky