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Procrastination: A Foe Rather Than a Friend

published October 08, 2007

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( 19 votes, average: 3.8 out of 5)
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Okay, so maybe that worked in college, but how about in the workplace? Not so much. Unfortunately, staying up until 4:00 a.m. to finish a term paper is not the same as obtaining information for a client about to go to trial.

Why do we procrastinate? Nobody knows for sure, but examining some common scenarios can clue us in to the reasoning behind it. Here are some possibilities for why we get cold feet when it comes to finishing important things:
  1. Fear. Maybe it's because of fear of failure or because of fear about our own ability, but sometimes we become scared to complete a task. Nobody wants to be seen as weak, and putting off an important task means not having to face potential failure.

  2. Too much work. We sometimes get bombarded with so much work that we lose track of what needs to be done. Some assignments are more important than others, but sometimes we'd rather do the easy stuff first.

  3. Perfectionism. Procrastinators also tend to be perfectionists. Trying to be perfect can be detrimental, though. It is impossible to complete every task flawlessly, but putting off assignments allows us to avoid facing this fact.

  4. "If it's not broke, why fix it?" Some people work best under stress, so they equate procrastination with progress. If you put something off until the last minute and it still turns out well, you may be reluctant to notice the flaws in your system.
Now that we have some reasons that so many of us procrastinate, what can we do to fix the problem?
  1. Make a list—a real one. Write down everything you need to do, and number the items on your list according to importance. The fact that something is easier does not mean it should be done first. Focus on what's important, and work from there.

  2. Your environment matters. Do not try to finish your work in a loud or uncomfortable setting. Find ways to make your environment more conducive to work, and see how much further you progress. Your peers and associates should also make your surrounding area comfortable.

  3. Challenge what you've known. Try something knew; what do you have to lose? Sure, procrastination has worked for you thus far, but you are not going to be able to keep it up forever. If you branch out of your comfort zone, you may be surprised at how much you can accomplish!

  4. Try a new view. Take a look at your attitude; is it helping your situation? Become organized, and change your approach to accomplishing tasks. Once you become more aware of what you are doing, you become conscious of your progress.

  5. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we put things off because we dread having to finish them all. There is no problem with asking for help. If your coworkers offer some advice or a helping hand, take it! Asking for assistance doesn't mean you are weak.
Now that you have some tips to work with, realize that chronic procrastination can't be changed overnight. Just make sure to accept and understand your actions when it comes to putting things off. The feelings of anxiety and stress that come from procrastinating never feel good, no matter what the outcome. Once you address these issues and become determined to change your procrastinating ways, you will live a healthier life.

published October 08, 2007

( 19 votes, average: 3.8 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.