Becoming a Procrastination Assassin
Procrastination: putting things we should be doing off to something more enjoyable or comfortable instead. Aren’t we all guilty of that? Please don’t say no, as you might crush all my hopes and dreams. It is such a common thing among students, there is even a Dutch verb for students avoiding their study related work: to “SOG”. SOG is an abbreviation for Studie Ontwijkend Gedrag, which can be translated as study avoiding behaviour, or in other words procrastination.
So, why do we even procrastinate? According to Traina in her book “The 20 Something Guide to Getting it Together”, there are two main reasons for us humans to waste our time delaying to start on what we were supposed to do in the first place. These are that we may be afraid of failure and/or find it hard to start on things that actually require effort.
My research on defeating procrastination has resulted in three steps beneficial for all career lions out there. Let me remind you, you have goals to achieve! These won’t achieve itself while you are “busy” with unrelated and, more importantly, unnecessary to do’s.
1. Notice your procrastinating behaviour
Acknowledgement is the first step to healing. Yes, this is a big huge cliché. Yet, I apparently still haven't grasped the concept. Alarm bells should ring the moment you start with the easiest tasks with the least priorities, waiting to get into the zone (which may well be after the newest “Game of Thrones” episode, anyone?), leaving those extremely important to do’s on your list (burying our heads in the sand, while we are at it maybe even our entire body), and so on. Fellow procrastinators will get the picture just reading these.
2. Observe the reason of your procrastination
Basically, recognizing your procrastination is no longer sufficient. It is like being your own psychotherapist, you will need to work out what is causing your procrastination. The good news here is that we are not even being accused of laziness. As shortly addressed before, procrastination is not only triggered by complex tasks awaiting us. The fear of failure is also one of the main reasons for this behaviour to surface. Other likely reasons include a lack of decision-making and/or organizing skills. Surely, there are plenty more reasons one procrastinated. None of them important enough to cause any further delay. This reason, however, will help you to…
3. Proactively apply anti-procrastination strategies
Here, is a short list of anti-procrastination strategies that I have found particularly helpful in my war against procrastination (Believe me when I tell you that a “war” is an understatement; you have not observed me writing this article, let alone get through university). The most effective strategy depends on the cause of your procrastination, of course.
- Make a prioritized to-do list and genuinely start with the most important one on the list (your entertainment excluded from your prioritization, obviously!).
- Chop massive to-do’s up in pieces, so you can attack them one by one (somehow, thinking of this in a battle strategy can make you feel much more confident in slaying your “dragons”).
- DEADLINES create clarity that sweep procrastination of its feet, whether they are your own or imposed by others. If you are just too comfortable with giving yourself some slack, try creating some accountability towards your colleagues, friends, or significant others.
- Don’t strive for perfection, but apply the Pareto-principle. Stating that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Where 80% might just be good enough, it is a lot better than procrastinating away and having no results at all. The 80% can always be improved if needed, but letting go of your perfectionism will definitely decrease your fear of failure and consequent procrastinating actions.
- Taking a walk or doing some other mild exercising has proven to be a great way to break procrastination. Subconsciously, you will be able to process whatever needs processing and engage in your tasks effectively.
So, how about it? Are you ready to beat procrastination? Please feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comment section.