Do you procrastinate? Psychotherapist and Life Coach Didi Zahariades joined us to help us recognize the consequences of this bad habit. She says you can tell whether or not you need to do something about your procrastination by examining its consequences. Procrastination can have external consequences (you get a zero on the paper because you never turned it in) or internal consequences (you feel anxious much of the time, even when you are doing something that you enjoy). If you put off washing the dishes, but the dishes don't bother you, who cares? When your procrastination leaves you feeling discouraged and overburdened, however, it is time to take action.
- Stop believing ‘It works for me.’ Unfortunately, procrastination helps reinforce itself. When we avoid doing something we dread by doing something we enjoy (such as watching TV, spending time with friends, etc.), we escape the dreaded task. Given such a choice, many of us choose to procrastinate. Recognize the cost of anxiety and dread that is associated with your fun time. In order to break the procrastination habit, we need to break up our current thoughts. We often strive for optimal conditions when in reality it isn’t necessary.
- Alter your need for Perfection. Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Perfectionists tend to procrastinate because they expect so much of themselves, and they are scared about whether or not they can meet those high standards. Procrastinating guarantees failure, but it helps perfectionists maintain their belief that they could have excelled if they had tried harder.
Belief: "I need this to be perfect. " Reality: Get a new attitude. Look to create something good and then build from there. Changing our attitude toward the task may go a long way toward keeping us from procrastinating. Tell yourself that the task isn't so bad or difficult, that you either know how to do it, or that you can learn how while you're doing it. Ask for help.
- Stop waiting for Motivation. Action proceeds motivation, so often you just have to ACT!
Belief: "I work best under pressure" is a familiar refrain. Reality: Research suggests that this isn't necessarily true. Chronic procrastinators actually get less done when working under a time constraint compared with "non-procrastinators." And chronic procrastinators make more errors. If anything, people who procrastinate leave little room for error. Shopping early for a dinner party allows enough time to look elsewhere for better produce or matching napkins.
- Learn to Tell Time Procrastinators' views of time tend to be fairly unrealistic. "I only need an hour to work out,” So you think. "I will leave work and go at 5pm; arriving home at 6pm with plenty of time to prep for dinner." What you may be forgetting is that our time is filled with more activities than we realize and then hour workout doesn’t include: it takes 5 minutes just to get out of the office, you run into a friend in the parking lot, your child calls about homework, you can’t find your gym bag, traffic is terrible and by the time you arrive at the gym you only have 22minutes to work out!
Didi says there are two main reasons why we procrastinate: (1) Fear of failure: If you aren’t sure of how to complete something you may avoid working on it. (2) Fear of success: You may believe that if we start succeeding then other’s will expect more and increase their pressure. Or they may have experience with successful people that has not been positive. An extremely successful parent may lead to procrastinating child.
For more information and help with other topics, visit Didi's website.