A QUICK PREAMBLE:
Don’t panic, the common causes of procrastination, those frozen moments of total indecision, are not as many, varied or complex as a lot of people would have you believe them to be. And it certainly isn’t difficult to address those causes either.
Why do it today when you can do it tomorrow, right? Then of course tomorrow comes, and you don’t feel like doing it…again!
Or you need to make a decision…shall i go left, shall i go right? Do i go up or do i go down? Do i vote him or do i vote for her?…
…and there you go round and round on the dreaded cycle of procrastination!
CUTTING TO THE CHASE:
So let me ask you, does procrastination ever stop you from doing what you really want to do or should do, with your life?
Maybe you want to get fitter and stronger, go back to studying, start your business or maybe start investing money in to your or your kids future?!?
Well, whatever your procrastination woes, here are the seven most common causes of procrastination and the seven cures that will help you put an end to all of that indecision, today:
#1 – No Written Plan
Fail to Plan…Plan to Fail…right?
I’m sure you’ve probably heard this before. Failing to plan for something is pretty much planning to fail. If you don’t have a written plan to guide you through something step by step, you’ll generally be paralysed by uncertainty and indecision.
The writer Mark Twain once said:
“The best way to do something great is to start now and the best way to start now is to make a written plan, break it into small steps and start on the first step now.”
Damned fine advice and the first cure for what is one of the most common causes of procrastination…follow Mark Twain’s advice!
#2 – Believing Your Own BullShit
The truth often hurts and this is one of those occasions…
…every time you tell yourself you’re going to do something that you don’t end up doing, you’re only lying to yourself,…simple!
The main problem is of course, that most procrastinators really do believe they ARE going to take action, just not now….there’s always tomorrow, right?
The cure for this is really very simple. Stop the bullshit. Stop believing yourself when you say “I’ll do it (whenever),” but instead work on a plan for starting to fulfil your commitment right now.
#3 – Approval Addiction
Most of the time, the problem with procrastination has nothing to do with not following through. The problem is very often actually making a commitment that you don’t really want to fulfil, just so that you can please someone else.
It might feel very good to tell someone yes and very bad to tell them no. But if you end up going back on your commitment, you’ll simply just burn all your bridges with that particular person.
The cure for approval addiction is to exercise your “no” muscle. Start saying no to things that you know you just ain’t gonna follow through on.
Don’t say “I’ll think about it” or “I’ll get back to you”. This is just verbal procrastination. Instead, get comfortable with saying no. Then when you do have occasion to say “yes”, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable and that yes will be much more valuable.
#4 – Perfectionism
Without doubt one of the leading causes of procrastination, and quite possibly the hardest one to overcome. The kind of procrastination that’s based on the fear that if something you do is not good enough, YOU aren’t good enough!
Perfectionism causes huge delays in taking action. You’ll often take practically forever to complete something because of constant revisions and excessive planning etc.
It’s very often known as “Analysis Paralysis”…a perfect description.
The cure for this is to separate your identity and sense of self-confidence from your performance, even when you do something well. This will take the edge off of perfectionism and keep it from paralysing you.
#5 – Too Many Options
You may have heard this saying:
“If you chase after two rabbits you lose them both!”
Too many options will often cause you to be caught by ‘analysis paralysis’ and you just never get around to focusing on one thing only. If you’re someone who has diverse interests, you’ll struggle with procrastination until you learn to make and cultivate a certain degree of ‘selective ignorance’.
Again, a simple cure: sit down and write out all the things that are most important to you and then start focusing your attention only on the things which you have time and energy for, right now…prioritise.
Chances are, if you do this and get to work, you’ll have time to do the less important things later. If not, at least you’ll have done something instead of being paralysed by too many options.
#6 – Indecisiveness
If you’re in the habit of saying “let me think about it” or “i’ll get back to you later” or of seeking others’ opinions for hours and hours, before coming to your own decision about something. You’ve fallen into the habit of indecisiveness.
One of the most common character traits of highly effective people is that they are decisive and not influenced by the opinions of others, so get rid of that nasty habit before it completely wipes away your dreams.
Having a long-term vision will help you to build decisiveness by asking yourself the question “what will be the best decision or route for helping me reach my long-term goal?”
#7 – Pure Habit
Too many people buy into the myth that procrastination is a character trait which is somehow “in your blood” or “it’s a natural part of your psyche”…just another one of the common causes of procrastination, and what a croc!
Procrastination is nothing more, nor less, than a bad habit. And like any habit, can be broken through consistent repetition of more preferable behaviours, attitudes or habits.
A FINAL ANECDOTE:
You can easily and quickly overcome these common causes of procrastination by:
- Always having a written plan for whatever act or action you need to achieve or complete.
- Acknowledging that “now” is the only time you can ever live in!
- Getting rid of your OCD like perfectionism and accept that failure is a natural part of the learning process.
- Focusing on a few key goals and trusting in your own wisdom, instead of being swayed by the opinions of others.
So, what you waiting for…go get on with it dude/dudess!
* * *
Here’s a perfectly poignant poem i found, from Poetry Soup and Chuma Okonkwo:
Like vitiligo it spreads across your brain cell
Whistles its addictive rhythm to your spell.
Like Alzheimer it eats away your memory
Bewitches your mind to apocalypse a la gory.
To the addictive evil hand your soul you sold
That’s procrastination; it devours your whole.
Procrastination prods like a knife blade
Confines you to a space you can’t escape.
Procrastination’s a sweet pill you hardly resist
So addicted you become that you can’t desist.
At the abyss of laziness your intelligence lies
Your mind’s killed daily as your creativity dies.
Procrastination is an addiction with a price tag
Indolence, un-productivity inter alia in your bag
You shop until your thoughts are eroded
And your mind’s consumed until all idea’s faded.
Procrastination’s an addiction to battle to its grave
You win until you silence and abandon your crave
For the enticing cadence it plays on your brain.
Only then will you be un-addicted again!
* * *
Carpe Diem, Be All You Should Be
Peter EC Kirwan