At one time or another, most everyone has procrastinated. With good intentions we say we will do a task and for various reasons, it simply never gets done. Why do we do this, especially when we’ve experienced the satisfaction of accomplishing a task and checking it off our “to do” list? Understanding why we put things off is the first step toward overcoming such actions. Here are some common reasons people procrastinate.

Being Disorganized. Sometimes a job can be so large, we become overwhelmed and simply don’t know where or how to begin. It can be paralyzing. One solution is to break it up into several small, more achievable tasks Focus on one… at… a… time. Once you complete one, then focus on the next small one. Before you know it, the job will be complete.

Fear of Failure. This may be the result of negative self-talk, or even negative feedback from others. How confident are you in your ability to get the job done? Begin looking for resources that will help you build your self-confidence. Try reading positive affirmations each day. Become mindful of your negative thoughts. When they become a part of your thought processes, turn them into positive thoughts. Think/ say, “Yes! I CAN do this! I can accomplish this!” Is your fear coming from not knowing how to do something? Then, learn how. 

Having no deadline. Work expands to fit the time allotted for it, so if you want to get something done, set a deadline. Record it boldly on a calendar, or place where you’ll see it often. Tell someone your plan for added accountability. 

Lack of enthusiasm. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do is the thing we least enjoy. Again, positive self-talk is helpful in changing attitude. Shift your focus to how good you are going to feel once the job is done. 

Perfectionism. Some jobs require perfection and precision, but most do not. If you tend to be a perfectionist, become aware of the pressure you may be placing on yourself to do everything perfectly all the time. In reality, sometimes the best outcomes come from the a more relaxed and creative approach. Too, there are circumstances where there simply is not enough time for such a thorough effort.    

Feeling the task is unimportant. If it needs to be done, chances are it is important. Sometimes it helps to know why a task is necessary. On the other hand, with more information you may discover that really is unnecessary.

Having conflicting beliefs. Sometimes we agree to do a task that goes against our beliefs, or that we think will result in negative consequences. Express your concerns and beliefs and strive to understand the underlying values of the other party.     

There are times when what appears to be procrastination is actually a lack the skills to get the job done. Technically, it is not procrastination when you spend time learning the necessary skills to carry out the task. Creating a time line may help you stay focused.   

As you make plans for the new year, consider placing any tasks you dread at the top of the list. Once these are behind you, you will be even more motivated to tackle what comes next.

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