Ever had one of those weeks where it feels you cannot keep up with life? I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to work my new computer after my files became corrupt on my old computer. I knew it was time for a new one, however, not being very computer wise, I kept putting it off. Of course, I am now paying the price.
I believe we all have that urge to put off what we do not want to do. It is part of being human. Research has also shown that procrastination has increased over the past 30 years. Reasons why were not stated. My guess is due to our over busy lifestyles with very high expectations.
I remember when I was completing my doctorate, my house was never so clean nor had I ever been so committed to my exercise program. Why is it we want to do anything but the thing that needs to be done? It’s not like house work was more fun than school work.
We can procrastinate over big or small things. When I tend to procrastinate it is usually because I am anxious, scared or overwhelmed with what I need to do. Sometimes it is just plain rebellion and I just don’t want to do what needs to be done.
Looking at each of these reasons we can also find a way to manage them. When I get anxious it is usually because I have overthought what I need to do and it feels too big. By refocusing my thoughts, I break down what I need to do. I have a continuous list of larger projects I’m working on and a to-do list. It is always easy to not do the larger projects because my to-do list keeps me busy enough.
I learned to break down my projects into smaller parts and put them on my to-do list. Sometimes even when I break down the project it can still feel overwhelming, so again I break it down into even smaller “to-dos.”
When I started my doctorate, I was easily overwhelmed and often doubted myself and my ability to complete the work. Therefore, I took each class syllabus and would break down what needed to be done into weeks and then by day. I would then write what needed to be done on my daily to-do list. This then decreased my anxiety.
Often on the weekend I have too much to get done and not enough time to get it done. So, I focus on what I am doing next, not the whole list. This makes it much less stressful and decreases my procrastination.
Fear is another possible reason to procrastinate. Fear of something being too difficult, fear of not completing something or fear of what the outcome might be. There are many fears we may face, yet most of them are unfounded. Worst case scenario is that we do not complete the task. Okay, so you don’t complete it. At least you tried. Next, you can figure out how to get help or to go a new direction.
Procrastination just keeps us stuck, making us not feel good about ourselves. Remember to just keep telling yourself to take one step. Then the next step, and then the next. Before you know it, the task is complete. We can all take one step.
I have a friend that wanted to go back to school for at least for the past two years. When I asked her why she kept putting it off she said it was overwhelming, and questioned if she would like the school or if it was too much for her. I looked her in the eyes and said, “So what, you only have to start with enrolling in one class.” I reminded her that if she didn’t like it after that first class, she didn’t have to register for more. She registered for that class and starts this month.
“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” — Mason Cooley