We all procrastinate Procrastination is the act of putting off work for no particular reason. Some guides and experts say that you’re procrastinating when you’re not doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline. That’s a false definition. It implies that we’re not procrastinating as long as we get the work done. If that’s true, most people don’t procrastinate. Which is of course not true. In fact, a recent study with 2,219 respondents showed that 88% of all people admit to procrastinating at least one hour a day. That’s more accurate. Why? Because we all delay or postpone a task for no good reason. Sometimes, we start a task or project, but we end up delaying the work. We don’t get it done.
Examples of Procrastination
When you delay work for a good reason, you’re not procrastinating. What’s a good reason? When your work improves with the delay. Think of someone who needs to write a report but runs into a new challenge that must be included in the report. One can argue that the work will be better by spending more time on researching the new challenge. However, most of our work does not get better by delaying it. If you want to go to the gym, your performance will not be better tomorrow. It will probably be worse because of entropy. Until four days before the exam. That’s when the exam comes close, which is when most students start panicking. Now, most of us form this behavior in college and remain working this way long after we’re graduated. In the workplace, we procrastinate in the same way. How often have you delayed work on a project until the last minute? Again, this pattern is not only limited to education and work. In our personal lives, we do the same. When are you submitting your yearly income taxes? Exactly, on the last day. Will we do a better job with our taxes on the last day? Probably not. I argue that we’re even more likely to make mistakes because of the time pressure. Some people say that they love deadlines and claim that’s what fuels them to do good work. I know journalists who swear by it. But it’s not a sustainable way of living and working. When you’re close to your deadline, and you haven’t done anything, you experience more stress. While stress may improve your concentration, it also has negative effects on your long-term well-being. Long-term, or chronic stress, can lead to depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, obesity, eating disorders, and a handful of other health problems1. Procrastination is not a problem we should take lightly.
Benefits of Stopping Procrastination
Procrastination is an inner struggle that can seriously destroy our overall well-being. There are three main benefits to beating procrastination:
1. Lower Anxiety
The more we procrastinate, and the longer we wait to get started with important things, the more anxiety and stress we have. Doing work is never easy. And if you wait until tomorrow, you will only feel more anxious about getting started. If you overcome procrastination and take immediate action, you will get things done. You remove the anxiety from that task before it gets to you.
Research shows that procrastination is not only a time-management problem. One of the biggest reasons we procrastinate is low self-discipline. The main benefit of beating procrastination is that you automatically increase your self-discipline.
People who don’t procrastinate accomplish better work. When you work with less stress, anxiety, and high self-discipline, you give yourself the chance to do better work.
Tips To Stop Procrastinating
- Know your time: This is one of the most effective techniques to identify how much time we waste. If we want to stop wasting our time, we need to be aware of how we spend our time first.
- Perfectionism destroys Productivity: This is a common trap ambitious people fall in. When you try to be perfect, you’re more likely to procrastinate.
- Disconnect from Internet: A big aspect of beating procrastination is to avoid distractions. One of the biggest distractions is the internet. It’s good to disconnect at times.
- Sleep Well: Sleep is a big part of getting things done. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to put off tasks.
- Exercise: Exercising is a perfect way to test yourself. If you can exercise consistently every week, it’s a good sign you’ve beaten procrastination.
- Improve Self-Confidence: Improve your self-confidence so you are more likely to get things done. Believe in your ability to figure things out.
- Write Daily: Writing every day is another example of self-discipline. Just like exercise, if you can write for your own purposes every day, you’ve beaten procrastination.
Books to help you stop procrastinating
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl: Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist before the war. His ability to observe the behavior of his fellow prisoners in Auschwitz resulted in Man’s Search For Meaning. This unique book describes how we choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances. Even during the horrible conditions of a concentration camp, humans can endure the suffering and find meaning in living because of inner decisions.
- A Manual for Living by Epictetus: A Manual For Living is exactly what the title says it is. This book also gives you a larger perspective on humanity. People have always had problems with self-confidence, family, work, other people, etc. In a way, nothing has changed. And that’s pretty comforting.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck: Life is about solving problems and finding solutions. If you always look at the risks and consequences of everything, you might play it safe, but you’ll also never grow. Carol Dweck’s book is one of my favorite books about developing the mindset you need to succeed in life.