Sometimes, getting started on something can be very hard to do. This is especially true when it’s something you don’t really feel like doing, and it’s even worse when the required task is complex, involved, or daunting. As a result we procrastinate – we put off what we should be doing. This sounds pretty benign – a tolerable inefficiency. However, procrastination can be highly problematic, especially if you’re running a business. In this article we take a look at procrastination – what it is, why we do it, and how it can be overcome.
Disclaimer: if you’re reading this article instead of doing something important that you should be doing, then you’ve come to the right place!
What is Procrastination?
The definition of procrastination is:
Putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention. (Dictionary.com)
Wouldn’t it be easier if we just did what we needed to do? However, the human ability to create things that can be done rather than things that should be done is immense and mysterious. Instead of taking care of business, we flit from non-essential task to non-productive diversion. We keep ‘busy’ doing anything but the one thing we should be doing. A sense of unease and frustration infiltrates. We’re unsettled. We’re procrastinating.
The Problem with Procrastination
The core problem with putting off what needs to be done goes deeper than the fact that when things aren’t getting done, nothing is produced. The real issue with procrastination is that it disempowers us. By not doing what we need to do, our sense of capability is eroded. This can make you feel irritable, listless, joyless, purposeless, lost, low-energy, distracted, and disengaged. It can take you away from the present moment. It’s a real bitch.
Procrastination has a lot to do with time. The longer you procrastinate, the worse it gets. As time passes, pressure builds. The actions that aren’t getting done worsen in magnitude. Ultimately, it’s a state of stagnation. During stagnation, no momentum is created, and momentum is what we need to overcome procrastination.
Why do we procrastinate at all? Why not just get started? We know it’s not useful or productive, and quite possibly, highly detrimental! To solve procrastination, it’s as simple (and as hard) as just starting. But we don’t start. The reason is in the mind – somehow, the action we’re avoiding becomes bigger than our capability to undertake it. We’re just not up for it! Maybe tomorrow.
We’re like a steam train at the station. None of the parts are moving. We’re heavy and immobile – a dead weight. We know we could be flying down the tracks, but getting moving – it just ain’t gonna happen.
6 Steps to Get Moving
If you identify procrastination as a problem, it’s time to break the cycle. Here are six helpful tips to help you get operational again:
1. Start NOW
Why now? Why not tomorrow? Because that’s procrastination! If you know you need to do it, then getting started is what you need to do. Now!
2. Tell the Truth
Got some convenient reasons why you can’t begin? Be honest. You can and must begin now!
3. Break it Down
Create momentum. If your task is too big, break it down into actionable pieces. Action these, instead of the insurmountable whole. These actions will lead you towards completing the whole task.
4. Get Perspective
Why do we do anything? Take a moment to consider how the action that you’re deferring relates to your goals. (Have you got goals? You should have!) Think beyond the task. When we procrastinate, we bury our heads in the sand. It’s time to look around and remember who you are and what you’re about.