3 Reasons Why Procrastination Is Perpetuating Your Suffering
By CJ McClanahan
Not long ago, I was working with a client, let's call her Sue. While very high achieving in her own right, she was also prone to procrastination.
And maybe you’re someone who is asking “Why do I procrastinate?” too.
To give you some context, for many, many months, Sue and I talked about an employee she had who was absolutely, positively terrible.
This employee never came to work on time, never did right job, and was someone who moaned and groaned all the time.
I didn’t need to be a highly-trained expert to realize this role wasn’t the right fit and the employee needed to be let go…
An intern who had taken two business classes could have easily seen that this person was a huge problem.
So Sue and I agreed we would be okay with letting this person go. It was a no-brainer. It had to be done, and any person could tell.
Unfortunately, from the time of reaching that conclusion it took seven months for that person to be fired!
Every time she would get the courage to have the conversation, she would fall apart.
Sue would say to me “...I can't do it this week.” or “...something came up.”
When she finally gave the problem employee the boot, it was like a tremendous weight had been lifted off her shoulders, though she beat herself up for not doing it sooner.
Fundamentally, we procrastinate for one primary reason:
On some level, something causes us to suffer, and the story we tell ourselves justifying the suffering is not stronger than our desire to evade it.
However, we can’t run forever, and most of the time we wait until the very last possible moment and run out of excuses.
We never procrastinate when it comes to things we like to do. We certainly know the causes of procrastination are not the things we find to be fun and enjoyable.
We procrastinate when things aren’t fun and when our motivation isn’t bulletproof. And, consequently, we often overlook the side effects of procrastinating.
#1 - Procrastination crushes your confidence.
When you are a chronic procrastinator (you usually are or aren’t), you develop an identity that says “I can never do anything… I'm the type of person that can't get crap down.”
Research shows there is a strong link between procrastination to health issues and depression.
#2 - Procrastination makes your entire day stink.
From the beginning of the day, you know there's something you need to get done, but you don’t want to do it.
As a result, it creates an ominous cloud that just hangs over you. You get depressed, and at the end of the day, it’s like "Ah crap!... I didn't do that thing I was supposed to do.”
And then you say to yourself, “Tomorrow I’ll do it. Yeah! Tomorrow will be the day I do the thing I didn't do today…”
But you don't...
#3 - Procrastination makes you think tomorrow is going to stink too.
With procrastination as a subconscious piece of your identity, you’re going to be in a constant state of procrastination – it is your default setting.
It’ll feel like there’s no other way, and the suffering it takes do what needs to get done is greater than the result of just pushing it off.
We resort to checking our emails 50 times a day (read Managing Your Inbox), chit-chatting about the game the other day, or, heaven forbid, sharing our feelings about the current political climate.
We justify it ourselves as “being responsive” or “deepening our connections.” Others may be prone to reorganizing their desk or office, or at home doing chores around the house.
We sometimes even take pride in it.
“Well, I checked a lot of the list,” you say to yourself.
But at some point throughout the day, maybe from the very onset, the priorities on that list were swapped with a list of distractions,... a.k.a. your list of excuses.
Procrastination keeps you from doing what needs to be done.
It's killing your productivity.
It's putting you in a bad mood.
If this sounds like you, I’d like you to consider doing the following immediately to help you get over your struggles with procrastinating.
First, be more specific with what you need to accomplish.
For example, if one of your tasks is to develop a business plan, break it into smaller tasks, such as:
Define company purpose
Identify target consumer segment
Describe unique product or service offering
Develop financial projections
Next, take the most difficult thing on your to-do list and get it done before 10:00 am.
It’s like pulling off a Band-Aid. It hurts immediately, but the pain isn’t nearly as bad you anticipated and it subsides fast.
Do the hardest thing first, right away. By doing what you dread most right out of the gate, you will gain momentum quickly and the subsequent tasks become easier to manage and achieve.
Also, have some accountability.
Have someone help you pick up that thing you don't want to do and hold you accountable in whatever way it needs to be.
They're going to punch you in the nose or going to take $10 from you, or they're just going to say, “Dude, why didn't you get it done?”
If you do those three simple things, you're going to reduce your level of procrastinating and you're going to increase the level of productivity you have every day.