Do you procrastinate?

I have to admit that I do it sometimes. Much less now than during my student days where I am your typical last minute fellow in the class. With the course load and of course, the packed social calendar, it’s tough to keep things moving on a FIFO approach. Of course, there is the “impression” of prioritization. But hand to heart, obviously it might not be the case. A couple of reasons typically flash through my head. So here goes.

1.  “What if I fail?”

Fear of failure comes up at times. It goes something like this: If I really try hard and fail, that is worse than if I don’t try and end up failing. In the former case, I gave it my best and failed. In the latter, because I really did not try, I truly did not fail. A little warped but I’m sure some of you have had that thought. Delaying submissions of home work till the last minute with the final submission being far from complete. Then the reasons kick in: I could have done better with more time. So by procrastinating, you sort of delay that possibility of really failing. At times, you might put in lots of less important busy busy work to fill up the schedule so that you have no “time” to finish the task on hand. Being a weel bit of a perfectionist also drives a lot of the problems. You want to make that work truly perfect and with the standards set so high for your self, it’s really tough to compete. So you could take the Microsoft approach where we rush to market with a solution and work to patch it later or the Apple approach where things are more or less tip top. With that said to be fair, even Apple does introduces updates and patches for issues that come up. So let’s face it, things will not be a 100% but let’s roll with it and the better thing is whether you can adapt as things come along. Rather than being paralyzed, try your best and learn from things as you go ahead.

2. “Gosh, I Don’t Feel Like Doing It”

There is a lack of motivation especially when the task is either difficult or generally unpleasant. Most procrastinators believe that something is wrong with them if they do not feel motivated to begin a task. This simply is not true. Sometimes it just that the task is less exciting as compared to others. Change your attitude and your mindset. Look at your goals and what you want to achieve. Focus on the steps to do so. It might be having to give up on the thought that everything is important or interesting. Focus. In addition, starting the task is the real motivator rather than believing that you need motivation to begin the task. Take the first step, build momentum, gain more motivation like a rolling stone gathering moss and it is a nice positive self perpetuating cycle. Eat the frog first as the popular book recommends and prioritize.

3. “Wow but I Really Don’t Know How”

Another possible reason where you start wondering how to do it. Some people lack the skills and knowledge especially if the task is new. Change that. If you lack the skills to complete certain tasks, it is only natural to avoid doing them. Identify how you could close the knowledge gap or problem. My young intern typically tells me to google it! You are also not alone. Consult your friends, families or colleagues. By seeking their feedback, it doesn’t mean you are dumb! It shows that you are keen to learn and improve.

4. “This Crap is Really Boring”

Lack of interest seems to play a role in procrastination. All students from time to time lack interest in a course, however, not all of these students delay in studying or completing assignments. Follow the Nike way: “Just do it!” And for all you know, you might like it. But if you don’t, at least you have time after that to do things that you find interesting.  But of course, try to learn and be prepared before leaping in. Especially if it is something you are not familiar with ala the previous point.

5. “What If More Comes On My Plate?”

“Fear of success” can be the other side of “fear of failure.” Here you procrastinate because you are fearful of the consequences of your achievements. Maybe you fear that if you do well, then next time, even more will be expected of you. Or, perhaps, succeeding may place you in the spotlight when you prefer the background. That’s why it feels “right” to defer it. Don’t.  Each success only opens the door to greater expectations? Not necessarily. Each success only sets you up for the next bigger challenge. Inaction or procrastination may be how you cope with the pressures you feel to constantly try to be “good enough.”

6. “You Can Make Me Do It, Just Try!”

Sometimes the task comes from someone else. Rebellion and resistance kicks in and you try to fight it. Delaying tactics can be a form of rebellion against imposed schedules, standards, and expectations. The thing to remember is that you ultimately lose. So why do it. Decide what you want for your life–don’t just react to someone else’s decisions for your life. Do it for yourself and not because of anyone else.

So there you go. Change your mindset, eat the frog and snap to it. If you need some motivation then according to the movie “Collateral Beauty”, one of the most precious thing we have is time. Couldn’t agree with that more. So stop wasting time. Seize the day, learn, make a change and more importantly a difference to you and everyone around you. Stop procrastinating! (PS: the message is directed at me!)

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