Day 9. Can you believe it? How is October already going this fast?! When I think about how fast time flies, I can see how it’s easy to procrastinate and want to get the most out of each day with things we love to do versus have to do. But we aren’t here for that, are we? We are here to kick this terrible habit out of our lives for good.
The problem with chronic procrastination is that we begin to make excuses believing they are reasons for our delays and inability to get things done. We avoid important tasks, push off large projects, and stall on completing everyday tasks because we become acclimated to putting things off and less comfortable with doing them. We start to build confidence that our procrastination habit is either the result the result of something we can’t fix or that it is under control.
Let’s look at a few of the excuses that pop up often for procrastinators who want to justify their behavior. Understanding these excuses will help you address the ones you use most and dig deeper toward uprooting your habit.
As a note, I’ve purposefully left off “I work best under pressure” because we covered that on Day 5. If you missed the post, read it here.
“There’s never enough time to get things done.”
If you’re too busy to fit things in, it feels better when you put tasks off. When you feel like there isn’t enough time to do everything, you don’t feel bad when you pick and choose what you will work on. When you use this excuse often, you tend to be really struggling with a boundary issue or the tendency to self-sabotage.
When you fail to set strong boundaries, you allow other people to add to your commitments and workload without setting limits on how much or how often they can do so. You allow your employer, customers / clients, and family tend to have some control over your schedule due to work hours, delivery demands, and school commitments, sports schedules, and more. BUT, you can communicate to them more effectively so you can set stronger boundaries.
It is YOUR responsibility to let your boss know that you are feeling overwhelmed. Ask them which things on your list can be moved to add the new project they are asking you to work on. When a customer asks for a date to be moved up, ask them which aspects of the project they are comfortable giving up to make that happen. When family springs a new event, outing, or request upon you, share when them what’s going on so you can come up with a plan. Set healthy boundaries and keep to them, and watch as the people around you start to respect you more, communicate earlier, and ensure you aren’t overwhelmed by their demands!
Self-sabotage happens when you don’t set strong boundaries with yourself. You may manifest this in various ways, from filling your schedule jam-packed to distracting yourself from what’s important because you don’t feel confident enough to do the assignment. You drive yourself off course in this instance and are the maker of your own problems. To resolve this may be harder, but it is not impossible! You have do ensure you keep your schedule at 80 percent full not 100 percent, and that you keep to your schedule when it comes to commitments. No more moving things around or living a life that is overbooked.
“I need time to think things through.”
Yes, preparation is important. You can waste a lot of time and resources by being impulsive and taking action too soon. But it’s also true that waiting too long or planning too much can also cause major problems. If you use this excuse often, you may be struggling with analysis paralysis.
Analysis paralysis can stop you from moving forward when it comes to getting things done, regardless whether they are important tasks that must be completed or fun tasks that you are looking forward to. It can happen by overthinking what new couch you want in the living room, what you will have for dinner that evening, or what font you want to use in your next design. It can also show up in your school work, by causing you to ruminate on a topic for your dissertation or which folks to team with on the next assignment. You become so worried about making a decision that you just don’t.
To address this issue, give yourself a set amount of time to make a decision. Grab the supplies / details you need to make the decision and then set a timer if it will help. Stick to your schedule. New paint color for the house? Go grab the swatches or paint samples and give yourself one day to make the decision. Latest design for your social media? set the timer for an hour, grab three images from your computer that jump out at you first, open up your graphic editing software, and let your heart not your mind move your fingers across the keyboard and hand across the mouse until your time is up. Make a plan, set the time, stick to it.
“It’s going to be super easy so I will do it later.”
Let’s not forget that you will often put things off because they are easier than other tasks. Housework only tasks fifteen minutes, right? Except when does it really? You start your cleaning, realize that you also want to do laundry, and now you’re behind with the rest of your activities. So you feel bad about doing housework and now have bad feelings next time it comes up. Instead, plan that it will take an hour, throw the laundry in before you begin, and then go up to clean the living room. Now you feel ahead when you leave the living room to swap laundry and head back up to work on the dining room.
If you procrastinate when it comes to work, you may think that a task will only take an hour but then someone will inevitably call during that hour and now you’re behind schedule. Instead, do the tasks or project earlier. No one is upset by getting deliverables early! Just don’t be too early or you will end up getting too many requests because of your efficiency. Plan a respectable time and don’t push it off. I like to do things two days early as much as possible.
If you procrastinate, you have reasons why you are doing it that feel very real to you. They may make sense and help you justify putting things off. The problem is they aren’t reasons, they’re excuses. The point of this challenge is for us to drop the excuses and take a more proactive approach to getting things done. We’ll talk more about proactivity soon!
As you enter into next week, listen to yourself when you are about to push something off. What reasons are you giving yourself? We only addressed three, and there are MANY we use. Write them down and think about what’s really going on. Then do the task at hand within a day so you can celebrate beating this habit.