Written by: Shani Fowler
“Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?” – Very wise words indeed and thank you to the former US President Thomas Jefferson! But unfortunately they’re wise words that are a lot easier said than done. All too frequently we are aware of the zillions of tasks lined up for us, all have their own importance but with the time constraints of a busy working family life, we have to learn how to stop putting things off. It won’t come as a major surprise to learn that it is usually the more mundane, difficult or less pleasurable tasks we are adept at dodging.
Delaying the inevitable
Firstly we are not being lazy by procrastinating, merely delaying something we know we will get round to at some point. It would make perfect sense to deal with tasks as they get to us: pay a bill on its arrival, send in the meter readings our energy company requests, write that letter of complaint while we’re still angry enough! But most of us don’t respond in this way. We know the task is there but we still put it off! Why?
Lack of confidence
Experts believe that we put these tasks off because they may cause anxiety or result from a lack of confidence, and avoidance is a natural human reaction to potentially difficult situations. But the circle of procrastination is a rather vicious one. The more we avoid, the more we can beat ourselves up about it, the more frustrated we become and the more daunting the task can seem and even undermine us. That nagging guilt and self-reproach is never going to do anyone any good! So what’s a procrastinator to do?
Firstly be honest with yourself. Find out why you are putting a task off? Do you feel uncomfortable doing it? If it worries you or you feel you don’t have the skills to complete something, see if anyone can help. Once you know why you don’t want to do something, you can put plans together to make progress.
Too big and too many excuses?
If the task is a big one, break the task down into bite size pieces and tick each section off once you have completed it. It’s good and heart-warming to see the progress you are making.
No excuses – try to not make excuses, yes there are other things to do like the ironing or washing up but tell yourself this has to be done too!
Once you get to start the task, complete it! Come on, you have come this far, the end is in sight, don’t let your Facebook friends or twitter account distract you. Yes it might be more fun and interesting seeing what your friends are up to, but if you don’t get it done you are back to square one!
Change your environment
Is the environment where you have to do the task, messy or not very user friendly? Have a tidy round, making the space as inviting as you can – a space where you can set to the task in the best frame of mind.
Help your future self
If it is a task you are likely to have to repeat at some point, write down how you successfully completed it. If you found a handy webpage or a source of invaluable information, keep a record so that if you have to do it again you have your own guide and it will seem less daunting next time.
Procrastination can actually become a problem. It can affect relationships by making you appear unreliable. It can make you feel stressed and anxious and unfulfilled as you are all too aware that you haven’t finished or done something. Procrastination is something we are all probably guilty of from time to time, but with a heathy dollop of determination, discipline and resourcefulness, we can get those jobs out of the way, leaving us to settle down and watch Corrie without that dancing devil on our shoulder shouting “you haven’t sorted that out you know!”