Procrastination, defined by Wikipedia is:
the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before a deadline.
We’ve all done it. Homework, housework, work work. Sometimes the avoidance behavior is easier than picking a starting point. Let’s be honest, the escapism of movies or video games can be more fun than focusing on working harder. But is that the right attitude to have?
Why do we procrastinate?
An article on Psychology Today delves into why people procrastinate and the different reasons for procrastination. To summarize there are three different behavioral types that avoid deadlines. Arousal types, avoidance types and decisional procrastinators.
- Arousal Types – thrive on the rush of putting things off until the last minute
- Avoidance Types – caged by a certain degree of fear; fear of either success or failure
- Decisional Procrastinators – cannot make up their mind
At some point in my life I was sandwiched in between the first two types of procrastinators but thankfully found ways to circumvent many of the distracting hurdles in my path.
So why do we procrastinate? This is a learned behavior that we use to put off more important tasks. Are we just too forgiving of a society and don’t perceive lateness as an issue?
How Can we Avoid Putting Things Off?
It’s likely that many of you reading this will put off something that needs to get done at some point. Here are some ways to remove the roadblocks we set in our own paths:
- Remove Distractions
In this digital day in age there are many things that can distract us. If you are setting out to write something or complete a report, have your research done then unplug from the internet. Remove the ethernet cable and put your computer in airplane mode. This will prevent you from wandering to another website and will force you to focus.
- Set Goals
Reaching goals can be rewarding in themselves. Once a task on the list is completed we can then reward ourselves with a break, snack or purchase depending on the size of the task.
- Make a List of Things You’re Avoiding
Along side with setting goals, having a checklist of tasks can prove beneficial. But having a checklist of things we’re avoiding is even better. Image how much better you’ll feel once you start crossing things off that list.
- Tell People About Your Plan
Making your intended actions public knowledge will prompt others to inquire about your progress. This will (hopefully) force you to want to complete each task or the entire project altogether.
The fortune, pictured above, really resonated with me when I first saw it years ago. This is why I chose to tape it to my monitor. Whenever I feel my mind starting to wander I look up and see the word “success” and get right back on track.
What are some techniques you use to help avoid distractions and focus on your tasks?