Do you intentionally put off things and delay them until the last moment, and then do it in a rush? If yes, then you are a procrastinator. Procrastinators don’t put things off accidentally or unconsciously rather they do it deliberately, they know that they will be worse off for delaying it, still they engage in activities other than they must do, or they plan to do. When you procrastinate you kill your quality time, you get demotivated, and you get caught in guilt and pressure, and you get disappointed because you are not able to complete what you are supposed to. Chronic procrastination is not only a killer of your precious time, but also a major demotivator that drains your motivation and adversely affects other areas of your life too.
The real cost of procrastination:
If on average procrastination costs 3 hours a day, surely it sounds a lot to you, and if we calculate this time for a year then
3 X 365 = 1095 hours or 45 days
You waste 1095 hours per year procrastinating, 1095 hours means 45 days a year and if you continue this procrastination pattern for 10 years, it will become 450 days or 1 year 2 months. This is the time that you could allocate to pursue your goals. It’s a time that has gone forever, you can’t get it back. And keep in mind progress is usually not linear, it is a snowball i.e. when you work more, you gain experience and momentum making your future impacts more powerful than the current ones. So, by procrastinating, you would not only waste your precious time but also the flow, momentum and positive change you would be enjoying otherwise. This is how your life would be different from the one you waste procrastinating, and this is the true cost of procrastination.
Procrastination is a multifaceted problem. There is no single cause behind it. People procrastinate when they prefer more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. In other words, it’s easier to choose pleasure over pain. When energy, willpower and focus are at lower points, our decisions lie towards procrastination.
Everyone procrastinates for different reasons, the same person may procrastinate for different reasons at different times. There are different procrastination triggers that trigger a person to procrastinate, these triggers are called procrastination personalities, and they are 5 in number:
- The Perfectionist
- The Dreamer
- The Self-saboteur
- The Crisis Junkie
- The Busy Bee
The Perfectionist: The Perfectionist seeks perfection in everything, they want every detail to be perfect. As a result, they find it very difficult to finish things. They prefer perfectionism over completeness. They review their work again and again and discover new chances of improvements and mistakes. Each time they review their work, they find something that needs to be edited, i.e. something to add or remove. As a result, they are never able to move to the next step, i.e. for them the current step is not complete, so they put off the next step. And when you allocate too much time to the first step, there use to be very little time left for the next steps and when the deadline is around the corner, you have to rush to get things done and end up either in delivering incomplete work or getting low quality outcomes or below standard performance.
When a person procrastinates because of his or her perfectionist behavior, then he or she can overcome it by redefining the objective of the work project at hand; then the person must divert his attention towards pursuing that objective instead of seeking perfectionism in the given task. Similarly, the person must identify a tangible output of the task at hand – when a person knows the tangible output, then all of his efforts would be oriented towards it. Furthermore, if there is some way to measure this output then the person can evaluate his performance by measuring and analyzing the work performed.
The superstructure method: According to this method, you must define the must-have, should-have, and ‘good to have of a project. Must have are essential to fulfill the objective, should have are important but not critical to the effectiveness of the project at hand and good to have may bring positive outcomes but if you skip them they don’t have any negative impact on the effectiveness of the project. To get out of the perfectionism trap, work on must-have, then if you have time, you may go towards accomplishing should have and still, there are time and resources left then you may pursue good-to-have too.
The Dreamer: Dreamer makes the ideal plans, but seldom takes action. They are highly creative, but find it very challenging to get started. They like to share their plans, dreams, and vision with others. But these plans remain dreams and don’t transform into something very remarkable. They are visionary thinkers but their visions and dreams are not accompanied by actions – their dreams give them a wrong sense of achievement.
There is a need to turn the vision into objectives; focus on what you can do and what you should do, and what is the expected outcome?
Set achievable milestones and achieve them one by one.
Set deadlines: There must be a clear timeline for your intended actions, so you may prepare yourself for taking timely actions.
The Self-saboteur: A Self-saboteur does not take action because they fear making mistakes. They think that the only way to avoid mistakes is to avoid action, i.e. by doing nothing, bad things can be avoided. In other words, these individuals don’t want to confront the risks involved. They consider that the given task is very difficult, they would not be able to do it, as a result, they hesitate to start and put it off. Self-saboteurs may avoid their procrastinating behavior by focusing attention on the underlying desire. And if the risk of making mistakes is holding you back from taking necessary actions then you may split risk into small pieces by dividing the task into actionable small steps.
The Crisis Junkie: Crisis Junkie takes things very easily and deliberately pushes back work till the last minute. They think that the task is very easy, and the available time is more, so they think that they should allocate this time to something else – they underestimate the time required to complete it. Caught in the trap of overconfidence, they overestimate their ability to finish the task. Most often, they try to undertake multiple projects simultaneously.
The Crisis Junkie may defeat their procrastinating behavior by working consistently. No matter the task seems very easy and seems less time taking, you must start working on it immediately after it’s assigned and never wait for the deadlines, rather work consistently.
The Busy Bee: The person with this procrastination personality is usually busy managing multiple things and there is no clearly defined time limit for performing different tasks. As a result, they undertake those tasks first that are short and require less time and put off those tasks that seem very long and require more time to complete. While a person is engaged continuously, this gives a wrong sense of connectivity and satisfaction but in reality, a person may be prioritizing low impact tasks over high impact tasks.
To deal with this kind of procrastination behavior, a person must define priorities and compare tasks with one another – a superstructure method may help. Setting deadlines and creating time pressure may also be a helpful tool to deal with this kind of behavior.
So, have you recognized which kind of procrastination personality you are? You may find yourself having a different procrastination personality in one circumstance and a different one in other circumstances. By recognizing your procrastination personality and behavior, you may break this loop by adopting the above-mentioned several different ways to deal with them.
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