Why Do People Procrastinate?

Procrastination is the number one dream killer ever known to mankind. Many people think that interruptions have something to do with procrastination. This would be the furthest thing from the truth. Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something of great importance for something of less importance. Let’s face it, we all have procrastinated at one point in our lives. I get it, no one is perfect, but when procrastination begins to have a major impact on your life it may be time to do some soul searching to correct the problem.

So why do people procrastinate? This is a great question. Let’s see if we can find out why and find out how to overcome it. First, let’s identify the two variations of procrastination. For many years I have been fascinated by people who consistently procrastinate. You know the kind of people I am talking about. People that put everything off. These types of people will be late for their funeral.

In my line of work, I have come to the conclusion that procrastination stems from two areas of the human mind. The first area in question would be the conscious mind. This is the part of the mind that is active when you are awake and aware of what you are doing. The second area would be the unconscious mind. This would be the area of your mind where you are totally unaware of what you are doing. Conscious procrastination is the easiest to identify and also the easiest to negate. Unconscious procrastination is not that easy to recognize due to it having something to do with deep formed mental habits. We have to catch ourselves doing it before we actually know that we are doing.

Putting things off has destroyed so many dreams since the beginning of time. It has also caused more heartache and failure than all other time management issues combined. The procrastinator does not understand that the winds of opportunity blow upon us all, but the procrastinator never seems to notice due to not taking care of the things they should have taken care of.

Now, getting back to why people procrastinate. Why do people allow things that matter most to fall by the waste side to address things of lesser importance? Conceivably it could be due to the task being unpleasant. Some people unquestionably dislike washing their clothes, while other people dislike taking out the trash. Whatever the case, being productive and successful often requires people to get out of their comfort zones. The natural response to unpleasant tasks is to put them off. In short, we let events control us and our productivity. The only way to escape this vicious cycle is to become cognizant of our thoughts and behaviors.

Discipline is the key to negating procrastination. You will want to create urgency by setting deadlines for everything you do. This can be accomplished by setting goals and breaking those goals down into smaller tasks to be completed. You may want to address the unpleasant parts of those tasks first leaving the more enjoyable tasks for last. You may want to turn your tasks into a game, this will turn the drudgery into fun. You will also want to reward yourself for meeting your deadlines no matter how large or small they are.

Another reason we procrastinate would be due to over-committing, pursuing non-obtainable goals, fear of failure, being disorganized, and plain bad timing. The last reason I can come up with would be that we just don’t care about if it gets done or not. The bottom line would be, we cannot do anything personally about procrastination until we are cognizant of its’ existence.

This Year, Transform Your Time With the Stories You Tell Yourself

When you pause and listen, you may be surprised at how much ‘chatter’ is going on in your head. You’re actually conversing with yourself almost constantly. And this isn’t just idle chatter.

Indeed, the stories you tell yourself, to a surprising extent, define your reality.

So, when it comes to meaningful conversations, the silent ones you have with yourself may be the most important ones to pay attention to.

And what better time than the start of a New Year to think about that? Maybe it’s time to consider telling yourself some new stories.

What you tell yourself is your choice…
Here’s a scenario that a client told me about not long ago:

Joan had invited a few of her friends to join her family for their holiday meal. She was really looking forward to it, had cooked up a storm, and had created a centerpiece that she was really proud of. Just before the guests started arriving, her cat jumped up on the table and started tearing the centerpiece apart.

Upset, Joan sprang into action to shoo the cat away. In the process, she knocked over a pitcher of water. It soaked the tablecloth and was starting to puddle on the floor as the doorbell rang.

Telling the story, Joan smiled proudly and said that in that moment she made a really important choice. She decided to laugh as she opened the door to her first guests. And that decision powerfully defined her present reality and had a ripple effect that changed the shape of her day.

What our stories tell us…
So Joan told herself quite a bit with her laughter. She indicated that there was no need to feel ashamed or to panic. Her laughter meant that what had just happened was something she accepted. It became part of the unfolding story of her day and was a source of humor, not horror.

And I’m sure you can imagine how differently this would all have felt had she chosen differently. Picture her face as she opens the door. How does it look if she is furious with the cat or self-critical about knocking over the pitcher?

Choose your stories well.
So, as we move into a new year, I invite you to consider the power of the choices you make. And especially, think about the stories you tell yourself about your life. You can make such a big difference for yourself.

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Five Tried and True Time Management Tips

One thing everyone seems to not have enough of is time. Since you cannot get more time each day, the thing to do is better utilize the time you have. Following are five time management tips that have been utilized for years and continue to work well for those who do them.

Always prioritize what you should get done each day. Be sure to plan for getting key items done that move your most important project to completion or high priorities that help to accomplish your goals. Then do other activities that would be consider your normal job tasks by organizing them with similar a like activities together organize things first
Touch paper or emails only once. In other words do not procrastinate by deciding to “decide later.” If it is something a subordinate can do or another team member enjoys doing, put their name on it and pass it along with minimal instructions. If it is reference material, skim it for what you need then either toss it or file it. If it requires you to reply, then write a note on paper or respond to an email right away with comments, questions, or suggestions.
Schedule high priority or key items into your day during the time you know you have the most energy and do your best work. This goes back to planning your day because you should always give you best efforts towards things that matter in the long run rather than just getting things done. So be sure to use your peak time for important tasks.
Whenever possible, delegate! You do not need to do everything yourself. Allow others to take on projects or tasks that may allow them to grow and learn. You may need to review their work or provide some guidance yourself at first or suggest someone on your team who can guide them through the necessary process. Eventually the subordinate or team member will be able to handle similar work on their own, which frees you for more important tasks.
Make an appointment with yourself for some uninterrupted time each day. Again we go back to planning your day so you accomplish more important things with the time you have. Use this uninterrupted time for strategic planning, project updates, or creative thinking. Even if this is only half an hour, it might help in moving key items forward in a new way, reducing stress, and preventing crisis.