When you find yourself procrastinating on a particular project, or just delaying in general, it is always a good idea to ask yourself why. If a task is difficult, it’s difficult for a reason! You need to know what that reason is, even if it’s just a nagging habit you’ve developed.
When procrastination causes problems
Yes, procrastination can be just a habit, and sometimes society even rewards you for delaying action, such as late season Christmas bargains. It’s not always a bad thing to look before you leap — no one wants to make a poorly thought out decision. But if delaying is causing problems in your life, the reason could be due to anger, fear, or denial.
The next time you find yourself procrastinating on a particular project, ask yourself these questions.
1. Do I find it hard to just get started? The hardest thing about everyday tasks is getting started on them. It’s kind of like pushing a stalled car — once you get going, everything rolls right along. Push past procrastination by setting up systems that help you. For example, I had a jigsaw puzzle that I just couldn’t seem to finish even though I wanted to use it as part of my wall decoration. I finally set it up on it’s own little table, then moved the table out into the traffic pattern where I would see it constantly. That got my attention, and got the puzzle finished.
2. Do I feel qualified to perform the task? Am I in over my head? Being afraid that you will fail at something is a sure-fire way to get you to stop before you’ve started. Push past procrastination by being honest with yourself about your level of training in that particular task. Don’t complain or procrastinate. Simply request help from someone qualified who can help you learn.
3. Is this something I really want? I was having trouble finishing painting my kitchen and I couldn’t figure out why. As I started to really think about it, I realized that I didn’t really like the color. Martha Stewart said I ought to like it, but I just didn’t. As soon as I mentally fired Martha and got the color I wanted, I finished in no time. Push past procrastination by telling the truth about what you really want out of life. Live as the star of your own life, not as an extra in someone else’s.
4. Does the task seem huge, even overwhelming? Push past procrastination by breaking the job down into smaller steps to get it under control and manageable. Instead of considering painting the whole inside of the house, focus on only one room or even one wall. Schedule a specific amount of time that you will spend on it each day, or week. Set realistic goals for yourself, instead of expecting to accomplish everything immediately.
5. Are there too many things demanding my attention so that nothing of real value gets done? Push Past Procrastination by setting priorities. Do things that are important to you and your life. Develop a filter system so that only what’s contributing to your goals gets in. Making a task easier often comes with making a choice to adjust your schedule, re-allocate your money, or choosing how to spend your energy.
6. Is this really my goal, or is it someone else’s? Are you doing it to please someone? Obviously there’s nothing wrong with pleasing the people you love. But if you find yourself in a role or job that no longer fits, it’s a signal that you will need to find another route to take. Push past procrastination by examining how you spend your time, what roles you are playing, and how they relate to who you are at this time in your life. 7. Am I afraid of the outcome? Procrastination may show up in employment when the fear of finishing one project without having another on the horizon may mean that you would get laid off. Procrastination may show up if you fear being blamed for bad results.
Procrastination may show up in personal situations as a fear of losing what you now have, even if it’s not what you want. Push past procrastination by having reserves. Without reserves, you live in fear. Fear causes you to make decisions you don’t like, which in turn makes you procrastinate. Build reserves and fear will no longer slow you down.