th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

4 Reasons People Procrastinate and a Cure for Each One

A study says the percentage of people suffering from serious procrastination issues is on the rise
By Doug and Polly White |


 

 

Almost everyone procrastinates from time to time, but Psychology Today has stated that an alarming 20 percent of people are chronicprocrastinators. Worse, with the ever-increasing barrage of distractions, the percentage of people suffering from seriousprocrastination issues is on the rise.

 

And that's a problem: After all, as entrepreneurs, we understand the challenges of trying to find time to get all of the work done. But, if we waste time on trivial tasks as a way to avoid important work and responsibilities, we need to find ways to break these success-killing habits.

 

While it's not easy for a procrastinator to change -- just getting started is often a challenge -- it is possible. Here are the top reasons people tend to procrastinate and some tips and techniques for addressing the problem:

 

 

1. You feel overwhelmed

Sometimes, when you feel consumed by the number of tasks on your to-do list, it's easy to shut down. This can be particularly true when you face large or complicated tasks. Instead of digging in, you put them off. You tell yourself that you don't have the hours needed to work on the task. Therefore, you should wait for the requisite extended period of uninterrupted time. As you can imagine, though, this luxury does not materialize.

 

Solution: Break the task into smaller pieces. As the old saying goes -- "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Break large tasks into smaller pieces, ones that will take no more than 15, 30 or 45 minutes to complete. Put these more manageable tasks on your to-do list and start the feast!

 

 

2. You've had bad timing

Often, people procrastinate because they are trying to work against their body's natural rhythms. Circadian rhythms regulate our sleep/wake cycles. When you are tired, it becomes easy to play the role of Scarlett O'Hara and put things off. After all, tomorrow is another day.

 

Solution: Play to your best times. Determine when you are at your peak. Are you a morning person? Do you feel most alive in the late afternoon? Do you get a second wind after dinner? It is critical to schedule and perform difficult, complicated or distasteful tasks at these peak times. You will be less likely to delay.

 

 

3. You hate the task

Everyone has tasks he or she detests. Perhaps it's invoicing, collection calls to customers or work on the budget. Whatever the dreaded task, if you truly hate it, it becomes easy to postpone. The problem compounds when you become embarrassed by your procrastination. That response only makes the task harder to face, and the procrastination becomes a negative spiral.\

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

 

Solution: Reward yourself. Combining a distasteful task with a reward can help. A spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down. Promise yourself time later that evening to enjoy that book you've been longing to start, or that glass of wine on the porch or that Netflix series you've been wanting to watch. First, however, complete your task.

 

Polly used this technique when studying for her college exams. She would put a novel she wanted to read in a brown paper lunch bag on the top corner of her desk. She did not allow herself to touch it until after her last final. It was her reward for the hard work she completed.

 

 

4. You need a greater sense of "urgency"

Do you need critical deadlines to get a task started? Some people report that they work better when they are under extreme pressure. While there is not one study to support this belief, this belief continues; it's even self-perpetuating. People want to believe that they function better under pressure, so they put themselves in those situations, continuing the procrastination cycle. If you find yourself waiting until the last minute to start on things, this misperception be your issue.

 

Solution: Create false deadlines. If you set your watch or clock five or ten minutes early, you're already using false deadlines. Be truthful. Every time you look at your watch, do the math. It isn't 9:00 a.m., it is only 8:50 a.m. You aren't fooling yourself into thinking it is later than it really is. Instead, remember that the incorrect time reminds us to try to be on time. It increases our self-awareness.

 

You can do the same thing with deadlines. Tell yourself that that report is due on Friday morning instead of Friday afternoon. Tell yourself that you have only 30 minutes to complete the task. Then, hold yourself to these new deadlines.

 

One last solution: If nothing else works, remind yourself of other times when procrastination caused you stress, regrets or humiliation or even cost your business money. When you find yourself procrastinating, try picturing those unpleasant outcomes.Those images may jumpstart you into action.

 

Learning to conquer procrastination is a form of self-discipline. Like other behavioral changes, it doesn't happen immediately. You will have setbacks. However, if you use the techniques listed above, you can begin to make progress and get your to-do list done and start a more positive cycle.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

 

 

*****

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.

Latest Articles

How Much Cut in Personal Income Taxes Can You Expect Under the Newly Ratified Tax Reform Bill?

President Rodrigo Duterte just needs to sign the bill and it will take effect 15 days later

byEntrepreneur Staff | December 14, 2017 16:00:00

Productivity Hack: Free Up Space on Your Mobile with Files Go

An app that frees up space, finds files faster, and easily shares them

byNicai de Guzman | December 14, 2017 10:00:00

Which PH Cities and Towns Have the Most and Least Bank Deposits?

If you have Php10 million in the bank, you have more deposits than at least 10 entire towns

byPauline Macaraeg | December 14, 2017 09:00:00

The Holy Trinity of Business Growth: People, Process and Metrics

How do you keep your company profitable as it scales above 50 employees?

byDoug and Polly White | December 14, 2017 08:00:00

3 Relationships That Will Build the Tribe Every Entrepreneur Deserves

Life is a team sport, and we cannot succeed alone

byKim Perell | December 14, 2017 06:00:00

Science Says You Can Do This Simple Action to Boost Your Memory

You have to listen to your own voice

byNina Zipkin | December 14, 2017 02:00:00

This 6-Year-Old Kid Reportedly Earned US$11 Million on YouTube

His most popular videos are the ones with an "egg surprise." Watch them here!

byKitty Elicay for SmartParenting.com.ph | December 14, 2017 00:00:00

Users of Online Marketplace Carousell Earn Php20K a Month Selling Mostly Secondhand Stuff

Launched in the Philippines in October 2016, the SG startup has helped sell over one million items

byElyssa Christine Lopez | December 13, 2017 12:00:00

Meet the Fruitcake Queen Who Has Been Making The Christmas Staple for Over 40 Years

Despite rising demand, Ju.D Lao refuses to open a shop and just wants to keep it a home-based...

byPaul John Caña | December 13, 2017 09:00:00

Hard Work? It's Not All It's Cracked up to Be. It May Even Be Irrelevant. Here's Why

Netflix let go of many of its hardest-working employees in favor of those who most greatly impacted...

byJayson Demers | December 13, 2017 08:00:00

Here's Why Introverted Employees Are More Likely to Leave Companies

A Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test could determine the mix of introverts and extroverts at your...

byHeather R. Huhman | December 13, 2017 06:00:00

Steve Jobs Shares the Secrets to Successful Team Leadership in This Throwback Video

The Apple co-founder reveals what he really thinks about professional managers

byNina Zipkin | December 13, 2017 02:00:00