Everyone procrastinates. It’s a fact of life. Every day you’re faced with undesirable tasks that you postpone. Who hasn’t put off paying taxes, making doctor’s appointments, and organizing the piles of papers on your desk? And it’s not only tasks. Communication is an often-procrastinated task that we avoid. The other is putting things in their proper place. Why should you should you put your clothes away when you’re going to wear the same ones later? Think about it, how many conversations are you avoiding (right now) that you should be having?
It’s human nature to avoid the unwanted, uncomfortable, and undesirable tasks, events, and situations. If you avoid a task, you might want to ask yourself, what is this showing me about myself. We avoid tasks because they show us our hidden character flaws (ones that we’d rather not see in ourselves). Procrastinated tasks are triggers of our what we don’t like in ourselves.
We don’t want to face the fact that math that concepts are hard. Or maybe a task will shows you how disorganized you are. (Where are all those receipts I saved for taxes?) We don’t want to admit that a certain subject makes us feel stupid. (I’m an artist my brain doesn’t comprehend finances). We’d like to believe that we could master any subject.
People tend to label themselves as procrastinators but it’s not that simple. There are many hidden issues that cause us to avoid starting or finishing tasks. If you know what type of procrastinator you are, it’s easier to customize a system that will support you during the stressful times, and lead to success. There are different types of procrastinators.
There are perfectionists who get stuck over-preparing. Every detail has to be in place, lined up symmetrically before they can begin. There are the pressure-cookers who choose to wait because they work best under pressure. But in reality, they have no sense of timing, don’t understand the project, or it’s something boring like taxes, monthly accounting, and organizing paper piles.
And then there are party people who’d rather be hanging out with friends in the neighborhood bar than face paying bills (because if they do, they’ll overdraw their account).
Don’t forget the pretenders who get themselves into situations they know nothing about. Sure, I can do that, they tell their colleagues. They’re confident (at the time) that they’ll figure it out but as the deadline comes closer, they sit there blank and clueless. Their “superman complex” makes them think they can fly, but when they’re standing on the ledge, they look down to see it’s made of Kryptonite.
Let’s face it; when you’re procrastinating you just don’t want to do what you have to do. Whether it’s paying taxes, going to the dentist, or calling your aunt to wish her a happy birthday- admit it, there is something about that task that sets off your internal discomfort alarm.
Some reasons we procrastinate are: doubt (I don’t know how to do it), fear (I’m afraid I won’t be good enough), desire (I’d rather go out with friends), indecision (I can’t decide what or how to do it), or boredom (I can’t concentrate. Too boring!).
So don’t waste your money or try to read a book on productivity, you know you won’t do that either. What you need are some creative-out-of-the-ordinary do-it-now hacks. Here are seven creative ways to overcome procrastination.
Be honest with yourself.
Admit it. It’s okay to say, I just don’t want to do this. Don’t deceive yourself. You’ll feel so much better if you’re honest with yourself. Face the facts. If you don’t want to do it now, say so. But commit to when you will do it, even if it’s an hour before the deadline. Why do you think the post office stays open past midnight on April 15?
Avoid traditional methods.
They won’t work if you don’t want to do the task, no matter how many clever reminders you use. Know what’s holding you back from facing the task, and then get creative. Customize the task for your specific needs. If you’re a night person, and your brain functions best at 1:00 a.m., plan your day around your high functioning hours. That means instead of grabbing another Red Bull or double-shot espresso at 3:00 p.m., take a power nap and prepare for a late night.
You may be avoiding the task because you don’t know to do it. You can spend hours trying to figure out how to do it, but that’ll only cause more stress. Ask for help. Admit that it’s not your area of expertise and find a friend, professional, book, or website that will help you get the job done.
Know your strengths.
You may be an expert mathematician, but your analytical mind might not comprehend the cognitive logic of psychology. Admit your reason for not getting started. Face the facts. It’s ok. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone isn’t a master in every subject. Go easy on yourself. Know that you have strengths but you can’t excel in every area. Knowing your strengths will help you accomplish your goals. Take this survey to discover your strengths.
Set a deadline.
Stating that you know it will be late creates a feeling of control, even if it’s up a last minute deadline. Admit that you’ll get the job done when you’re ready. Try to keep the deadline. Write it on a calendar. Send yourself an email. Set 3 alarms at different intervals to remind you to meet the deadline. The future can’t be seen or measured. What’s measured is managed, said Peter Drucker. Measure your time so you can manage it.
What’s the punishment?
Procrastination is denial. We know there will be a consequence but we ignore the repercussions if we do not complete required tasks. Procrastinators put off monitoring their bank accounts until they get an email saying their account is overdrawn. We become time blind, Dr. Russell Barkley states in his book, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. Here and now is all that matters.
What’s the reward?
When’re stuck in procrastination, negative thoughts take over your mind. All you think of is the despicable task you’re avoiding. You forget the benefits you’ll receive from completing the task. If you’re a student struggling to finish a paper for a required class, keep the reward in mind, you’ll be motivated to push through the discomfort to get a diploma. It’s amazing how motivated a bride can become when she has to lose weight before her wedding. Rewards are motivators.
You are not alone. Everyone avoids what they don’t enjoy. It’s true, some people are masters at forging through the tough tasks, but most of us have a long list of avoidances every day. Discover your strengths and then use them to get through the discomfort of procrastination. You will feel fantastic when you do!