Procrastination isn’t healthy, at least not when it’s chronic and habitual procrastination. Procrastination has been proven to impact every aspect of a person’s life, including our home, business and organizing projects. The scientific studies actually argue for and against procrastination so I’ll share a bit about both sides of the coin.
There are ways to overcome procrastination and to make it work in your favor. Some of us are more prone to procrastination than others. I find I often procrastinate for two different reasons and my theory is that the why behind the delay tactics can tell you a lot about healthy vs unhealthy procrastination. In my research about personality I discovered that certain people might be more inclined to procrastinate and for different reasons…so there ‘s no “RIGHT or WRONG” answer in this post, there’s both!
Scenario A involves my procrastinating when I’m really confident about a subject based on previous knowledge and experience. For example preparing for a presentation that I’ve done multiple times and have a good sense of how long preparation will take me. This is my most common form and what I consider GOOD procrastination. This type of procrastination isn’t fear based, I understand why and how to get to my outcome and that outcome doesn’t require a lot of decisions on my part. I’m confident that I will accomplish my goal and meet any deadline required. Some scientists consider this Active procrastination. We can recognize this type of procrastination when we make a conscious decision to delay our actions because we like a bit of pressure, may be currently working on more valuable tasks and are confident in our ability to complete the task on time.
Scenario B involves procrastination when I am totally overwhelmed, I don’t know where to begin and the subject is unfamiliar to me. I find or create excuses not to begin, which are usually fear based. If I’m honest with myself the only way to beat the head game is to admit that self talk is dragging me down and find my way through (perhaps by asking for help!), not around the task. This kind of procrastination crosses over to the BAD side… Some scientists consider this Passive procrastination. We can recognize this type of procrastination when we become paralyzed by indecision and we fail to take action and complete tasks on time. This type of procrastination isn’t healthy. It’s fear based, keeps us from making decisions, learning new things and moving forward.
The science behind procrastination goes much deeper than I cover here but the bottom line is that we procrastinate when we have to make decisions about what we are doing with our time and when we are going to do it (now or at the last possible moment?)!
The really important thing to understand about procrastination is what is behind your procrastination. Is it a delayed decision or are you making a conscious decision to do something later? If it’s the former, it might not be such a bad thing.
If you find that your stuck and overwhelmed then you need a SYSTEM to help you move beyond your procrastination. Some truths about procrastination…Procrastination begins with just one thing distracting us & taking us off track. Systems work to move us beyond procrastination, here’s how you can create your own…
- Find your why & let that motivate you!
- It only takes ONE small distraction to send us down procrastination alley…something like checking emails, or Facebook, grabbing a snack. You know your tactics.
- Knowing why we are procrastinating can help us move beyond it. Is your procrastination a confident-I’ve got this scenario or fear based overwhelm?
- Find an accountability partner or system
- Work in intervals, using time boxing or other techniques to break larger projects into smaller tasks
- Take healthy breaks between intervals-eat brain boosting snacks, drink water, rest your eyes, do a meditation, you get the picture, but set your clock and get back on task when the scheduled break is over
- Eliminate distractions, turn email notifications off, close other browser windows, put your cell phone on silent, put a do no disturb message on your door etc
When do you find yourself actively or passively procrastinating and why? What systems do you use when you find your in a procrastination zone? Please share how procrastination impacts you in your daily life in the comments below.