It’s the kind of procrastinating that can destroy your life, limit your success and even impact your family and income. Procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt and crisis, severe loss of personal productivity, as well as societal disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments. These feelings combined may promote further procrastination. While it is regarded as normal for people to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder.
It’s more than just saying “I’ll do it later”… it’s a chronic way of thinking that eventually leaves you incapable of achieving anything. Regularly procrastinating, putting things off over and over again creates a sub-conscious mindset that forces you to put things off. This attitude and mindset impacts your family, work and personal life… sping you from achieving the best you can be and preventing you for enjoying the success you want and deserve. Once this habit of procrastinating become ingrained… you’ll procrastinate to no end… it will always be later, later, later.
You may want to be your best and maximize your potential but your habit of procrastinating doesn’t let you do that. You know you can succeed, you know you can do better…but the habit of procrastinating ss you… every time. Everyone procrastinates. We put things off because we don’t want to do them, or because we have too many other things on our plates. Putting things off—big or small—is part of being human. If you are reading this handout, however, it is likely that your procrastination is troubling you. You suspect that you could be a much better writer if only you didn’t put off writing projects until the last minute. You find that just when you have really gotten going on a paper, it’s time to turn it in; so, you never really have time to revise or proofread carefully. You love the rush of adrenalin you get when you finish a paper ten minutes before it’s due, but you (and your body) are getting tired of pulling all-nighters. You feel okay about procrastinating while in college, but you worry that this habit will follow you into your working life.
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.
Is there any hope? If you think you are a hopeless procrastinator, take heart! No one is beyond help. The fact that you procrastinate does not mean that you are inherently lazy or inefficient. Your procrastination is not an untamable beast. It is a habit that has some specific origin, and it is a habit that you can overcome. This handout will help you begin to understand why you procrastinate and give you some strategies for turning things around. For most procrastinators, however, there are no quick fixes. You aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and never procrastinate again. But you might wake up tomorrow and do one or two simple things that will help you finish that draft a little earlier or with less stress.
You may not be surprised to learn that procrastinators tend to be self-critical. So, as you consider your procrastination and struggle to develop different work habits, try to be gentle with yourself. Punishing yourself every time you realize you have put something off won’t help you change. Rewarding yourself when you make progress will.
If you don’t care why you procrastinate—you just want to know what to do about it—then you might as well skip the next section of this handout and go right to the section labeled “What to do about it.” If you skip to the strategies, however, you may only end up more frustrated. Taking the time to learn about why you procrastinate may help you avoid the cycle whereby you swear up and down that you will never procrastinate again, only to find that the next time you have a paper due, you are up until 3 a.m. trying to complete the first (and only) draft—without knowing why or how you got there.
Why we do it
In order to s putting off your writing assignments, it is important to understand why you tend to do so in the first place. Some of the reasons that people procrastinate include the following:
Because we are afraid.
• Fear of failure: If you are scared that a particular piece of writing isn’t going to turn out well, then you may avoid working on it in order to avoid feeling the fear.
• Fear of success: Some procrastinators (the author of this handout included) fear that if they start working at their full capacity, they will turn into workaholics. Since we procrastinate compulsively, we assume that we will also write compulsively; we envision ourselves locked in a library carrel, hunched over the computer, barely eating and sleeping and never seeing friends or going out. The procrastinator who fears success may also assume that if they work too hard, they will become mean and cold to the people around them, thus losing their capacity to be friendly and to have fun. Finally, this type of procrastinator may think that if they s procrastinating, then they will start writing better, which will increase other people’s expectations, thus ultimately increasing the amount of pressure they experience.
• Fear of losing autonomy: Some people delay writing projects as a way of maintaining their independence. When they receive a writing assignment, they procrastinate as a way of saying, “You can’t make me do this. I am my own person.” Procrastinating helps them feel more in control of situations (such as college) in which they believe that other people have authority.
• Fear of being alone: Other writers procrastinate because they want to feel constantly connected to other people. For instance, you may procrastinate until you are in such a bind that someone has to come and rescue you. Procrastination therefore ensures that other people will be involved in your life. You may also put off writing because you don’t want to be alone, and writing is oftentimes a solitary activity. In its worst form, procrastination itself can become a companion, constantly reminding you of all that you have to do.
• Fear of attachment: Rather than fearing separation, some people procrastinate in order to create a barrier between themselves and others. They may delay in order to create chaos in their lives, believing that the chaos will keep other people away.
Whether these fears appear in our conscious or subconscious minds, they paralyze us and keep us from taking action, until discomfort and anxiety overwhelms us and forces us to either a) get the piece of writing done or b) give up.
Because we expect ourselves to be perfect.
Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Perfectionists tend to procrast
inate because they expect so much of themselves, and they are scared about whether or not they can meet those high standards. Perfectionists sometimes think that it is better to give a half-hearted effort and maintain the belief that they could have written a great paper, than to give a full effort and risk writing a mediocre paper. Procrastinating guarantees failure, but it helps perfectionists maintain their belief that they could have excelled if they had tried harder. Another pitfall for perfectionists is that they tend to ignore progress toward a goal. As long as the writing project is incomplete, they feel as though they aren’t getting anywhere, rather than recognizing that each paragraph moves them closer to a finished product.
Because we don’t like our writing.
You may procrastinate on writing because you don’t like to re-read what you have written; you hate writing a first draft and then being forced to evaluate it, in all its imperfection. By procrastinating, you ensure that you don’t have time to read over your work, thus avoiding that uncomfortable moment.
Because we’re too busy.
Practical concerns: jobs, other classes, etc.
Because it works.
Unfortunately, procrastination helps reinforce itself. When we avoid doing something we dread (like writing) by doing something we enjoy (such as watching TV, hanging out with friends, etc.), we escape the dreaded task. Given such a choice, it’s no wonder that many of us choose to procrastinate. When we write a paper at the last minute and still manage to get a good grade, we feel all the more compelled to procrastinate next time around.
Tomorrow, we may discuss about the solution of this problem. In the meanwhile, please be happy by not putting off your plans frequently.
Be Happy – Don’t put off Your Plans Frequently