I know, I know. You’ll get to it in a minute.
Five minutes becomes ten becomes.. 24 hours. And then suddenly the deadline is looming very large in front of you.
You’ve gotten little (or even nothing) done toward the project. So, how’d you get here in the first place?
And more importantly, how can you fix it so it doesn’t happen again?
Let’s look at these causes of procrastination and how to stop them so they don’t stop you.
There’s a difference between these P words
If you look up procrastination in the dictionary, most definitions include the word “delay”.
But, not all delays are bad.
There’s a difference between prioritizing and procrastination. The key is your motivation for the delay.
Are you putting off something that’s unpleasant because you simply don’t want to? That’s procrastination.
Are you delaying a trip to the store because it’s snowing? That’s prioritizing tasks in favor of your safety.
Understanding that difference is the first step to fixing your procrastination problem.
Common causes of procrastination
No matter what kind of project you’re doing, the causes of procrastination are similar.
A home project, something for work, maybe even something in your community.
These are the things that can keep you from getting started.
When it comes to procrastination, fear can take many forms.
But, no matter which one it is, if you can identify it, you can fix it.
Fear of failure
You’re afraid that whatever it is, it just won’t work.
Or be good enough.
Fear of success
What happens if the thing you do is wildly successful?
This may seem strange, but success brings its own problems.
Fear of inadequacy
You’re afraid that you simply don’t have the tools or skills for the job.
Dealing with your fear
One of the keys to overcoming fear is facing it head on.
Start by examining the dimensions of your seemingly giant-sized fears.
Many times, once you take them out into the light, they don’t seem so large. Talking with someone close to you can help, too.
Once you shrink your fears down to size, they’re easier to overcome.
You want every single thing to be just right.
Perfect. Or else, why bother?
There’s a saying, “C’s get degrees.” While that might not be comforting if you think of things like students in med school, it’s true.
Not every single thing has to be perfect. Sometimes it’s ok to embrace the idea of “good enough”.
Yes, some things require more accuracy than others, we understand that.
But trust us, no one will notice that the icing on the last 5 cupcakes isn’t perfect. They’ll be too busy eating them.
Not knowing where to start
This can be a huge obstacle, no matter what kind of project you’re doing.
Do you need to clean the entire house? Write a novel? Create a marketing plan?
Going on a trip and haven’t packed a single thing in your suitcase?
It can be daunting just trying to figure out where to start.
Here’s the best part about most projects: They don’t have to be completed in a linear way.
In other words, you can start somewhere other than the beginning.
Here are some examples:
You don’t have the first sentence of the thing you need to write.
But you know how it ends. So write that part first. Or even the middle.
Just write something. Getting started is key.
You have five rooms to clean, but everything is a mess. Start where you are, and go from there.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.
Not having a goal
It’s really difficult to start a project that doesn’t seem like it will end.
Like the house cleaning example, it just gets dirty again, right?
If you create a goal or end, it’s easier to get started. That way, there really is an end in sight.
It can also help end one of your causes of procrastination.
The goals are too big
Yes, we just talked about not having goals.
There is also such a thing as a goal that’s too big. It makes you feel overwhelmed before you even start.
One of the ways to deal with that is to break it down into manageable pieces. As you complete each micro goal, you’ll get the motivation to keep going.
It can even be as simple as setting a timer for thirty minutes. Not only will you have thirty minutes of work done when it rings, but something more important.
You’ll have a sense of accomplishment, too, that can help keep you going.
An upside to procrastination?
Have you found yourself saying, “I work better under pressure”?
If so, you might be addicted to the adrenaline of that last-minute rush. It might be time to find another way.
That rush can leave you tired and listless afterward and you can probably guess what happens next. More procrastination because you’re tired.
You may even convince yourself it’s ok to procrastinate again because you did just finish something. But just because you just finished this thing, doesn’t mean the next thing’s not already due.
The rush in your brain makes it feel like you’re thinking more clearly, that you’re focused.
Here are 4 ways to sharpen your focus, without that procrastinator’s rush.
Once you’ve gotten started
Congrats! You’ve overcome your causes of procrastination.
Here are some things to keep an eye out for as you work:
Getting started is great, but continuing until you fall over isn’t.
Make sure you give yourself regular breaks (but not too many).
Setting a timer can help keep you on track, too.
Part of your procrastination might be from what’s going on around you.
Turn the TV off, put your phone away, shoo the kids outside.
Make sure that shiny thing (squirrel!) isn’t distracting you from your goal.
You might not be working toward your goal in the most productive way.
These productivity hacks might be just the thing you need.
Have you tried these hacks to stop your own causes of procrastination?
Did they work for you? Know of any we missed?
Let us know in the comments!