This is my first blog post and what better title but the one on procrastination. After all I am the master of it and I feel that I need to change this as time waits for no one. It took me 10 years to move to a new house, another 10 to get this business started officially and so forth. So, what is it all about and why do we do it? After all, it is very common in all humans and is a persistent tendency. As many as 20% of adults have regular bouts of procrastination according to many academic literatures. Google, my favourite search engine is my favourite information tool on the planet as it gives me a lot of answers and lets me access a lot of online data instantly. I am quite scientific and like to know where my data comes from but at the same time there are many questions we as human beings still do not have answers for. Even science is not concrete and results are constantly changing confusing many people, including myself.
When I am writing I must remember that I am not writing a thesis but an interactive article. My blogs are supposed to be engaging, challenging and material for debate. I do not wish to write scientific papers but to engage my readers by focusing on reality and fact as much as possible. We are bombarded with so much reading material on all topics and it can become overwhelming. Consequently I do not wish you to glaze over and be bored with what you are reading but rather be engaged; entertained and maybe amused gaining new knowledge and understanding in the process. One of the purposes of writing in my view is to stimulate the mind, consider other perspectives and play with the imagination.
So, what is procrastination?
In short, procrastination is the persistent ability to put things off or not follow through on set tasks. This is not always a bad thing and in fact being impulsive is very unhealthy too; but all in good measurers. Balance is the key. According to Piers Steel who did a comprehensive study in 2007, procrastination is not functional and he also links it to personality traits saying that procrastination rarely pays off and that procrastinators can also miss out on pleasant tasks such as planning for holidays or social meet ups for instance. However, I personally do not see myself as a procrastinator who delays pleasant tasks such as going on holiday or travelling the world as its my oxygen to live itself. Steel stated that people high in Conscientiousness, one of the Big Five traits used to assess (suitability of people for various jobs) are less likely to be procrastinators. Well interesting but I am not sure as I know that I score highly on Conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is the trait of being high in self-discipline, it also includes traits such as being dutiful, dependable, careful and neat and systematic and in short hard working and reliable. This is what made me look into the area of procrastination more deeply.
As you can imagine the topic on Procrastination is a long topic and a book can be written on it which is not my intention. So here's a summary:
There a three types of procrastinators
1. Arousal types - they are thrill seekers, they leave things to the last minute to get a euphoric rash;
2. Fear of failure - they are individuals concerned with fear of failures and fear what others think of them
3. Decisional procrastinators - individuals who do not make decisions in order to absolve themselves from taking responsibility for the outcome of events.
In order to stop entangling myself with a lot of academic information and knowledge, I will stop myself right now and talk about how I stopped procrastinating and how you can do it also if you are a procrastinator or have traits of procrastination.
Procrastination for me was always to avoid difficult decisions and tasks because I am a perfectionist and was afraid to make mistakes and consequently literally felt frozen by FEAR just in case I made a mistake or someone does not like or criticise what I say or accepts my point of view. Well, I now know that this is too simplistic a view and that constructive criticism and failure are both necessary to progress, grow and learn.
So below is what I learned in the process of fighting procrastination and moving forwards.
Firstly of course I had to become aware that I am putting off an action or task and I am finding excuses why I do not do the action or complete the task/action as intended. I then learned that I must stop punishing myself as this caused stress and discontent; it became logical to me that stress will only cause more stress and consequently it will be even harder to get work done as losing faith in myself is far worse than someone else losing faith in me.
So being mean to myself made me lose even more confidence and self-esteem which as stated above made it even more likely for me to continue procrastinating as feeling low about myself stopped me from doing anything at the first place for fear of failure.
However, once I pulled myself together accepting that people will always have different
points of view which is desirable as it challenges us to become more accepting and tolerant; I started to lose some of my fear which enabled me to move forward. I started to write a to-do list to set goals and prioritise different goals with set deadlines. Setting goals and working towards them one step at the time is key. I also learned that tackling the first most difficult task in short chunks is empowering. For instance, setting a small goal like writing a Business plan starting with an outline of the objectives for instance gave me a framework. In summary I personally and consciously realised that making time to do things in chunks - bite size/breaking down things into small pieces was productive for me. I found that doing the hardest part first is motivating and builds a skeleton and foundation where the rest of the work can be hung on to.
Thirdly, I now aim to complete a piece of work to an acceptable standard and accept that it must not be perfect; after all what is “perfect”. By aiming for completion over a so called perfect piece of work I gave myself permission to be good enough; this side stepped any fear of not being good enough. After all, if something is not done how will you ever know if it was good enough or maybe even excellent. Also, what is perfect for one is not for the other. For instance when you write an essay and you get an A star you often may get this good grade because it fitted in with what the lecturer said; that’s why in my experience students often spent time writing down the view of the lecturer who marks the essay!!! We all have our own beliefs created over a lifetime and consequently whatever is great for me might not be for you.
Fourthly, I started to reward myself with a coffee or going to the gym or whatever made me satisfied or happy once I accomplished a realistic goal. This is an ongoing project as it is easy to slip back into procrastination!!!
Some useful tips that worked for me to get things done include:
Pick a constructive environment that does not distract you from whatever you do.
Remove your mobile phone from the work space if you don’t it is very tempting to check all the latest messages and trends on Instagram etc.
If you listen to music don’t focus on the lyrics as you may well be side tracked quickly and the focus goes as a word in the lyric may make you day dream again.
Now of course there are many more strategies and any of the key words if typed into Google will bring you an array of information. My intention was just to have a look at how we can move forward and motivate ourselves. I will mainly discuss issues which various people discuss with me. Procrastination and stress are key topics right now! It is almost as if we humans somehow get stuck in certain situations because it is comfortable and unchallenging.
I hope you find this article interesting and please do let me have your views and experiences.
Wishing you all light, love and peace.