Monday, February 11, 2008

Procrastination - Do You Handle It or Does It Handle You?


By definition procrastination is the act of deferring tasks to a later time. According to Wikipedia, "The psychological causes of procrastination vary greatly, but generally surround issues of anxiety, low sense of self-worth, and a self-defeating mentality." As true as this is, it is very disconcerting when you note that some forms of procrastination are self-destructive.

We all procrastinate in one way or another, even if you didn't think that you did. Accordingly, there are both good and bad procrastination skills. As to the good ones, someone may delay doing a task to do something of more importance. In other words it is a form of prioritization. Even though this may be good, the fact of the matter is that you are going to have to tackle that other task anyway. Otherwise the situation will get worse (like putting off mowing the lawn) and in some cases out of hand.

One of the worst forms of procrastination besides not doing anything at all is the one where we'll perform tasks of less importance. What we'll do is say to ourselves that we've accomplished a lot that day, whether it be errands or whatever. We'll even reward ourselves for completing these tasks. But we leave behind the task of more importance that is still waiting there and not getting done. What makes this so detrimental to us is that it doesn't feel like we are procrastinating.
You may even wonder if I'm procrastinating from doing something by writing this post.

Actually, I'm writing this for two purposes - one to relay my thoughts on this subject and also for myself on a personal level. I came to a realization last evening, which really has nothing to do with procrastination, and needed an outlet.

One of the questions that we should be asking ourself is ‘What's the best thing that I could be working on?' And then follow that up with, ‘Why aren't I?' This is probably not easy for some to ask themselves because we have to be introspective to answer it properly.

Several reasons for our procrastination could be fear, whether it be the fear of failure or success; perfectionism, because we may expect too much of ourselves and are therefore afraid of not attaining that level or goal; or, we're too busy to perform those tasks. Many times we'll find that we'll perform a lesser task because of the instant gratification as opposed to a more intense or larger task that will usually give use greater satisfaction down the road in the foreseeable future.

Procrastination tends to reinforce itself and that can only become a vicious cycle. Part of the problem is that we are too intelligent and will rationalize behavior such as this.

While writing this piece, I came across an article in Psychology Today, Procrastination: Ten Things To Know. Is your procrastination hindering you? by Hara Estroff Marano.

So, what are you going to do now?


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is very enlightening post about the reasons causing procrastination. At http://www.stop-procrastination.org they provide you with answers and solutions to help you avoid procrastinating! I find it really helpful and it really works for me!