(N)ot Now

Not now; I’ll do it later.

I am often telling myself that.  And most of the time, when I say that I will get to it in another couple of hours or by the weekend, it turns into weeks/months later, if ever.  Yes, my name is Stacey and I am a PROCRASTINATOR!

According to Psychology Today, “Procrastinators sabotage themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose paths that hurt their performance.”

Here are the top 10 reasons they list as to why people procrastinate:

  1. Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don’t pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.
  2. It’s not trivial, although as a culture we don’t take it seriously as a problem. It represents a profound problem of self-regulation. And there may be more of it in the U.S. than in other countries because we are so nice; we don’t call people on their excuses (“my grandmother died last week”) even when we don’t believe them.
  3. Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others. “Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” insists Dr. Ferrari.
  4. Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarianparenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What’s more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.
  5. Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcoholamong those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend to—a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie procrastination and lead to disengagement viasubstance abuse.
  6. Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.
  7. Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.
  8. There’s more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:
    • arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.
    • avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
    • decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
  9. There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia. In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.
  10. Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn’t necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structuredcognitive behavioral therapy.

I think I relate most to #6 and 7.   I haven’t really sat down and thought about WHY I procrastinate.  But I do know that it does not permeate every aspect of my life.  There are certain things that I procrastinate on, such as cleaning, laundry, calling certain people back that I might have an issue with, etc.  It is really with non-preferred activities.    You can relate to that, right??

So to try to combat my procrastinator tendencies, I Goggled more topics on procrastination and came across the following blog that talks about how to stop procrastinating:

How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done Now.

Taken from the blog The Daily Mind

1. Just do it
One of the best slogans ever created was by Nike when they told the world’s aspiring athletes and sportspeople to “just do it”. Of course they meant “just do it while wearing our gear” but the essence is still helpful.

Getting in to the habit of just doing it is a very helpful thing to do. As soon as you get a task you should start on it. It might be about losing weight, starting a new assignment, changing jobs, moving house, etc. The best thing you can do is start and finish it as soon as possible. Forget all the mental chatter that is going on in your head and just do it!

2. Realize that you are procrastinating
If you do not acknowledge that you are a procrastinator you will not be able overcome this problem. One of the most powerful things you can do when thoughts of putting it off arise in your mind is to look straight at those thoughts and realize that you are about to procrastinate.

If you catch your mind at this early stage it is a lot easier to overcome the power of procrastination. It is when you entertain those thoughts and acknowledge them as important that it becomes a problem that is difficult to control. For example, I know a lot of people are addicted to Facebook at the moment. During the work day they will procrastinate by saying, “I’ll just spend five minutes look at Facebook and then I will do some work”. This has already gone past the awareness stage and you have now conceptually justified your actions.

If you look closely at your mind you will see a tiny conversation going on – your procrastinator mind is trying to get you to put it off and is thinking of a 1000 reasons why you shouldn’t start work yet. However, if you can see that mind for what it truly is you will be able to beat the urge to put it off.

3. Remember your motivations
If you have been putting off an action or an event like losing weight, going to the dentist, finishing an essay, etc. then it it sometimes helpful to remember why you are doing that thing in the first place. If we can remind ourselves of our initial motivations we will be less likely to stay off task.

For example, if your are having trouble starting with your weight loss diet it is a good idea to remind yourself of all the reasons why you must lose weight. You could write down a list of these reason – it is unhealthy to be overweight, bad diet causes heart problems, I want to be alive for my kid’s weddings, etc. These motivations will help us stay disciplined when the procrastinator bug bites.

4. Write down a timeline for every goal
Another way you can kick yourself up the rear and and get in to gear is by writing down exactly what you want to achieve and by what date. For example, if you have a big assignment due at the end of July you might write down three or four dates in July when you need to have things done by – July 3rd; finalize draft, July 10th; complete research, July 12th; begin introduction, etc.

When you write down goals and give them a date you make it much more accessible. You take it out of your head and put it down on to paper where you can continue to remind yourself without going crazy with thoughts and concepts. You stop procrastination because you now have certain deadlines that you have to work with in some way, shape or form.

5. Take away distractions
Something that a lot of people (myself included!) need to do is take away distractions. When I was studying at university I could never do it at home. If I was home I would soon close the books and go workout, watch TV, play video games or do anything to put the study off. So I would go in to university with a coffee and some food and find a lonley little desk in the back archives of the library. Here I was better able to beat procrastination because I had no distractions immediately on hand.

This isn’t a failsafe method though because there are always going to be distractions. You could be in jail cell and find distractions if you tried. A fly on the wall suddenly becomes extremely interesting to a student who has been studying accounting for the past six hours!

The real key with this one is to have some sense of inner discipline. You will want to find distractions but it is up to you to keep yourself on target. Otherwise it doesn’t matter how many distractions you take away, you will still find an excuse to procrastinate.

Now that I have some tips on combating my procrastinating tendencies, I will start working on putting them into practice……..tomorrow, or maybe Saturday at the latest 😉

This post is part of a month-long series, A-Z, that I am participating in for the month of April.  You can learn more about it by clicking on the link over on the right sidebar.

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About Stacey

Life is a journey that I believe we are meant to walk together...so please Walk a Mile with me. View all posts by Stacey

27 responses to “(N)ot Now

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