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Conquering the Procrastination Plague

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” 
-Williams James

Pro and Cons of Procrastination

I waited as long as I possibly could to write this chapter. I’m just kidding, but does this sound familiar?  Procrastination is one of those habits that afflict us all at times, but it can become a dreadful plague to many.  I regularly speak on overcoming procrastination, so I know it is a struggle for a lot of people.  When I ask audience members, “Who considers themselves a procrastinator,” the hands fly up in the air immediately.  Procrastinators know, without a doubt, who they are.  If you’re not a procrastinator, then you can skip this chapter. But chances are, if you’ve read this far, you know you might benefit from reading on.  Either you are a full-fledged procrastinator or you have some experience with procrastinating in some area of your life.

On the surface, it may seem there are no advantages for procrastinators. However, if there wasn’t a payoff, people wouldn’t procrastinate.  Many times we procrastinate because we don’t like doing something.  When we put things off, we don’t have to face undesirable tasks.  Sometimes, if we wait long enough, the undesirable task will even go away.  Procrastinating enables us to hide behind our fears.  Some tasks are just plain scary.  Some people avoid making sales calls because they fear rejection.  Others put off a doctor’s appointment because they are afraid of what the doctor might find.  

Procrastinating allows thetime to do more pleasurable activitiesor to prioritize more important things.  When you procrastinate, you have time to rest, and sometimes we need that.  Life is not fun if it does not consist of some time for relaxation and play.

The negative effects procrastination has on our lives are much easier to identify.  One consequence of procrastination is that you fail to reap the rewards that come from taking action.  One area that many people procrastinate in is self-care. How many people do you know that say exercise is important to them, but yet they rarely exercise?  When we procrastinate, we miss out on the rewards of taking action on the things that we desire.  It might be a trimmer body, a more rewarding career, or even a fulfilling relationship.  Procrastination interferes with many people living up to their fullest potential. There are so many talented people that never become all they were created to be.  It’s just not the individuals that are affected; the Universe misses out.

Procrastination causes stressin your life.  Whether it’s the stress of unfinished business or the adrenaline stress that comes from waiting until the last minute, the stress will have an effect on your physical and emotional health.  When we are stressed, we are irritable, and it can be difficult to relax and sleep. We might react to the stress by engaging in unhealthy habits like overeating or abusing alcohol.  The stress may cause physical illness or chronic pain like lower immune system, headaches, back problems and even depression.

The unfulfilled promises and the chronic lateness, as a result of procrastinating, erode trust and damage relationships.  Spouses of procrastinators chronically complain their partner never gets things done. They feel their only tool is to nag, and nagging normally doesn’t motivate the procrastinator.  I once spoke to a husband of a woman that was dragging her feet on eliminating her clutter in the home.  It was clear from our very short conversation that he was quite irritated with her procrastination.  Some procrastinators have lost their jobs or were passed over for a promotion because of their failure to complete tasks on time.  Most people would rather deal with reliable individuals.

Procrastination can be quite an expensive habitif it affects our finances.  Many procrastinators pay their bills late, resulting in late fees.  Or they procrastinate on managing their finances, resulting in overdraft charges from the bank.  Sometimes procrastination gets so bad that an individual’s credit is severely affected, causing him or her to be unable to purchase a home, a car, or even food for the family.

Lastly, procrastination withers away our self-esteem.  Most procrastinators carry around a lot of guilt.  They feel bad about the choices they are making, but feel unable to stop them. The more their life spirals out of control, the worse they feel about themselves.  Projects pile up, tasks go undone, life is unorganized, and the procrastinator feels like a failure.  These feelings of failure further complicate the problem by causing exasperation and inaction on the procrastinator’s part.  Fortunately, there are several ways to conquer the procrastination plague.

Develop an Awareness of Your Style

Before you can begin to conquer procrastination, it is helpful to understand why you typically procrastinate.  Having an awareness of your style gives you an idea of what fuels your procrastination.  By being aware of your tendencies, it is easier for you to start making changes. Below, I have identified eight different styles of procrastinators, each with a description of typical behaviors and thought processes.  Highlight the statements that resonate with you.  You may find that one particular style describes you, or you may have traits from many different styles.

Perfect Paula

  • Perfectionist
  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear that your best efforts won’t be good enough
  • Reluctant to work with others or delegate to people that don’t do things your way
  • Thinks in terms of black and white
  • Tendency to be rigid, stubborn or picky
  • Overly preoccupied with details, rules and schedules

Attachment Alice

  • Fear of separation
  • Don’t trust your ability to do things on your own or make your own decisions
  • Procrastination is a friend you never say good bye to
  • Like to be told what to do
  • Uncomfortable in the spotlight
  • Don’t want to leave a relationship with someone you view as a protector
  • Desire to be rescued
  • Prefer to stay in your comfort zone
  • Worry about the repercussions of change

Separation Sally

  • Fear of attachment
  • Fear that others will take over your life
  • Fear that others will take credit for your accomplishments
  • Avoid intimate relationships for fear of being hurt again
  • Fear you will hurt other people
  • Fear of rejection is so intense that you avoid people

Average Ann

  • Fear of success
  • Fear that you’ll be judged as being too good
  • Feel you don’t deserve success
  • Fear that someone else will be jealous or hurt by your success
  • Fear that success will trap you into a life you don’t want to live
  • Fear of becoming a workaholic

Rebel Ruth

  • Have a need to break free from rules that are too confining
  • Reaction to authority
  • View requests from other people as demands
  • Resist people intruding on your time
  • Use procrastination as a way to express your anger or get revenge
  • High need to fight for your independence and self-respect

Crisis Christy

  • Frequently wait until the last minute to do something
  • Feeling that life is chaotic
  • Your life contains a lot of drama
  • Moods change rapidly and dramatically
  • Get temporarily and very involved in something and then quickly lose interest
  • Preference for action – impatient when things move too slowly
  • Enjoy the adrenaline rush of taking risks

Busy Beth

  • Always doing things, but never really getting anything accomplished
  • Frequently complain of being too busy
  • Attention span is short and you move from task to task
  • Have difficulty saying no to things you don’t want to do
  • Get overly involved in other people’s problems, postponing addressing your own
  • Afraid you might not know what do with yourself if you weren’t busy
  • Frequently wonder how you got involved in the tasks or projects you’re doing

Dreamy Dora

  • Think a lot about what you’d like to do, but rarely do them
  • Hate details – love creativity
  • Dislike difficult tasks
  • Want life to be easy and pleasant
  • Want to jump from beginning to end without doing anything in between
  • Led by your feelings in the moment versus current plans or priorities
  • Still wonder what you’re going to be when you grow up
  • Rarely take an active approach to what you want – wait for things to happen to you

Ideas for Overcoming Procrastination

Overcoming procrastination is a process – it’s not going to happen overnight. I will give you a lot of ideas for working on changing this habit, but please understand you are making a major lifestyle change, so it will take some time.  Stay with it and don’t give up.  By using the following Think~Speak~Act techniques, you will begin to conquer procrastination and transform your life.

THINK

  • Stop negative thinking – think positively about your ability to change your ways
  • Think about your early childhood models and how they may have influenced your procrastination
  • Think about the beliefs you hold that reinforce your procrastination
    • I work better under pressure
    • I’ll have more time tomorrow
    • I can’t do it because I might fail
  • Challenge your beliefs and replace them with positive affirmations
    • I do my best work when I have prepared enough time
    • Today is the best day to get things done
    • If I don’t try, I’ll never know
  • Acknowledge your fears and any other emotions you feel
    • Ask yourself the question: “What am I afraid will happen if I _________? (Fill in the blank with the task you are procrastinating on)
  • Know who you are and what’s important to you
    • Do soul searching on decisions you are procrastinating on – ask yourself why you’re on the fence
    • Knowing what’s important to you enables you to decline activities and tasks that aren’t important
  • Think about the payoff for procrastinating
    • Ask yourself the question:  What benefit am I receiving from not _________? (Fill in the blank with the task you are procrastinating on)

SPEAK

  • Speak confidently and positively
    • Avoid words like “can’t,” “should,” “have to,” “must” (these words lack energy and motivation)
    • Use words like “can,” “could,” “want to,” and “choose to” (these words shift your energy and change your attitude)
  • Learn to say NO at appropriate times – avoid committing to tasks and activities you know you don’t want to do
  • Speak up and ask for help – having a partner or support motivates us to move forward

ACT

  • Get the right people involved to help you
    • Hire professionals to help you with various tasks
    • Hire professionals to help you overcome procrastination
  • Stretch yourself by acting with courage
    • Take baby steps – a little action is better than none, and taking action usually propels you forward
  • Learn to set boundaries to protect your time and energy
  • Set goals using the S.M.A.R.T. process
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable 
    • Reasonable
    • Time-oriented
  • Manage your time wisely
  • Reward yourself and celebrate your accomplishments

Conquering the procrastination plague begins with an awareness of your tendencies and understanding the root cause of your behavior. It ends with faithfully working on changing your thoughts, words and actions.  With some hard work and commitment, you can make this significant and rewarding lifestyle change.

TAKE ACTION ASSIGNMENT:

Pick the area in your life that you procrastinate on the most.

  • Household
  • Work
  • School
  • Personal Care
  • Social Relationships
  • Finances
  • Administrative
  • Other

What is one change you can make today that will begin to break the cycle of procrastination?  Enlist the support of an accountability partner in making this change.

Leadership

The 8 Faces of Procrastination

August 12, 2016

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top posts

fitness

coaching

01.

Get Anything You Want in Life

02.

Meditation for Beginners (3 Steps!)

03.

The Story Behind my 1st $20k month

04.

Being a Future Based Thinker

CATEGORIES

Operations

Marketing

leadership

team

inspiration

Free!

biz assessment guide to scale your online business.

see obm services!

I'm Lori - certified online business manager and founder of Amazing OBM.  Here you will find the operational, marketing and management tips you need to scale your business to new heights!  Enjoy!

tell me more!

Hello!