Advertising

7 Characteristics of Procrastination (And How to Fight Them)

7 Characteristics of Procrastination (And How to Fight Them)
Advertising

We all do it to some degree or another; put off for tomorrow what we know should be done today. Postpone the inevitable pain for the current moment of pleasure. But we know that even if we can manage to put it out of our minds for the present, it will eventually come around and bite us on the butt and disturb our external calm demeanor.

Below are some of the symptoms of a procrastinator and the remedies to try.

1. Lack of Vision

Not having a clear vision for the future is one of the biggest reasons people procrastinate. If you can’t see the benefits of completing certain tasks why would you bother starting them?

Remedy

Have a clear picture of all that needs to be achieved and the reasons why, you are much more likely to be motivated to get going and get things done.

Advertising

2. Lack of Time

Lack of time is the most popular excuse banded about for not getting things done. But fortunately there are very few people in this world that don’t have the scope for becoming at least 10% more efficient. Being busy doesn’t equate to being efficient. Regularly when someone lacks time in their lives, it is due to poor organization skills, poor prioritization or the inability to say no.

Remedy

Learn to become more efficient with one’s time. This can free up many hours a week to get the more important stuff done.

3. Lack of Organization

The infamous words of Peter Druker say it clearly “Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail”. If you are disorganized and don’t keep a schedule you are likely to forget tasks and miss deadlines.

Remedy: Keeping a schedule will help you to track all the tasks that you have to do and ensure that tasks aren’t forgotten.

Advertising

4. Tiredness

Some will use the excuse of being too tired to get started. Many people delay and procrastinate on their home duties because they are too tired when they get home from work.

Remedy

Find out the reason for your tiredness. Are you eating right? Are you exercising? Not getting enough sleep? Find your reason and try to remedy it by changing your ways.

5. Fear

Fear of the outcome can be another delaying factor. Some people fear failure; they won’t be able to do the task to a good enough standard so they delay in getting started. Others — believe it or not — fear success. They may know that by completing a certain task, the outcome may lead them places they are unsure they want to go.

Remedy

Become clear about the consequences of completing or not completing a task.

Advertising

“Clarity brings Power” — Anthony Robins

6. Easily Distracted

In the modern age we are bombarded with technology and external stimulation that it becomes more difficult to stay focused.

Remedy

Turn of email notifications and only check emails at allocated times during your day. Switch off your phone and allow messages to go to voicemail. Close your office door and let people know you are not to be disturbed. Remember to stay in control of your technology and not let it control you.

7. Feeling Overwhelmed

Some tasks at hand can make us feel overwhelmed, mostly because we don’t know how to get started.

Advertising

Remedy

Break it down into bite sized chunks. Then break it down even more. Plan each part of the task so that you are focusing on completing the sub task rather than the overall task. This helps to feel in control and not overwhelmed. Zoom in and zoom out every now and again to make sure you are moving forward with the overall task.

But the best and simplest advice is to make a start on any important task. No matter how small or how insignificant in the overall picture, just get moving. In keeping with the laws of physics — “An object in motion tends to stay in motion” — you can start to get rid of procrastination by moving forward.

If you want to learn more about procrastination, check out What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Advertising

More by this author

Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

10 Green Tea Benefits and the Best Way to Drink It 7 Wise Ways to Find Focus and Get Things Done 15 Quick and Healthy Snacks to Help You Stick to Your Diet How Mindfulness for Productivity Can Improve Your Focus This Is Why Taking Action Creates Success

Trending in Productivity

1 How To Boost Employee Motivation During Difficult Times 2 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 3 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 4 5 Values of an Effective Leader 5 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next