Stop Procrastinating: Recognize the Warning Signs
“Procrastination is a passive-aggressive way of dealing with work you don’t want to do. Find work that really means something, and you’ll discover that you’re not the procrastinator you thought you were.”
—Colin Grey, Time Management Coach
Procrastination is a form of avoiding the people and things we do not like (or don’t want to deal with), including our spouse, boss, job, chores, and even ourselves. While most everyone procrastinates to some degree, some people do it more often than others, creating a veritable merry-go-round of self-inflicted defeat. There are things we can do to resist the temptation of putting things off, but first you have to recognize its warning signs:
• Can’t keep appointments.
• Have a hard time saying no.
• Constantly late to everything.
• Have difficulty starting and finishing projects.
• Feeling like you’re too busy to get anything done.
• Find yourself in a constant state of disorganization.
• Prefer to reward yourself first, then work afterward.
• Disappoint the people you love with broken promises.
• Can’t estimate how long it will take you to do something.
• Believe you are most creative when you wait to the last minute.
There are four types of procrastinators, each one having their own fault in the way they think. If you can figure out which type you most exemplify, you’ll find the warning signs easier, and take the necessary steps to minimize their negative effects on your life.
1. Thrill-Seeker: These people wait to the last minute because it gives them a euphoric rush. Because of this nervous blast of energy, they believe they do their best work this way, which is rarely the case.
2. Work Dodger: This group puts off projects, either because they don’t want to do them, don’t know how to do them, or fear failure if they try. Instead of facing the fact they might not be as good at something, they hide behind the excuse that they are either too busy or uninterested.
3. Passive-Aggressive Avoider: These people are often characterized by the inability to say no. Because they lack the ability to speak up for themselves, they punish those around them by avoiding the things they’re expected to do.
4. Non-Decision Maker: This group experiences so much anxiety from having multiple choices, they end up avoiding decisions altogether.
Stop Putting Things Off and Create Drive in Your Life
• One of the most fundamental reasons we put things off is because we don’t like something. This may include ignoring a spouse or partner we’re angry with, or avoiding projects for a job or career we’re not motivated by. Sometimes all we need to improve a bad situation is to remove ourselves from it.
• Just say no to people when you’re either too busy or have a strong opinion against it. This will help keep resentment at bay and the temptation to be passively resistant (passive aggressive).
• Practice the “Five Minute Rule,” which asks you to stick with a project for at least five minutes without interruption. Chances are, you’ll get involved and want to keep working on it.
• Nobody is that busy. If you always feel like you don’t have time, ask yourself if you’re really that occupied, or are you just making excuses? Take the time you normally spend making excuses, and put that effort into getting something done!
• Avoid abstract thinking by organizing your time and establishing a game plan. For instance, instead of reminding yourself every day that you need to find a new job, establish a concrete plan, including the individual steps it’ll take to get to that destiny.
• Divide bigger projects into smaller tasks. That way they won’t seem so daunting. People are less likely to procrastinate when the distance between their effort and reward are minimized.
• Reduce the complexity of decisions by organizing your choices into smaller groups.
• Actively involve yourself in the things you avoid, and you might develop a better attitude about them. For instance, if you are taking a class in school you don’t like, you’ll probably avoid studying it. However, if you join a study group, the knowledge, skills, and confidence you gain from your participation will eventually reduce your fear of failure.