Sometime back I was thinking if I had to write articles or not. My thoughts were holding me back were:

What if I don’t present my idea in a pleasing manner? What if someone finds some mistake in it? What if someone makes something better than this? Then it struck to me… Well, there will be someone who has done these things earlier, why should I do some thing new? Why should I not follow that…? I might be happy with agreeing 90% with some one!! Then why should I write it? Well, let me think about it some other time… if I needed I will write. 

All through the dilemma – “To write something that was original to me or not” I was PROCRASTINATING. Searching for the perfect article, and internally possessed by the “Fear of Failure”. This is the actual enemy that prevents us from achieving what we are capable of. We keep pushing things until we realize that we cannot push it any further. Until we have no escape from doing it by compulsion. Well in the above scenario it’s not all that serious but still has a message for the bigger scenario… “Beware of The point of compulsion”.

procrastination_cycle

When we are compelled to do something, I personally feel we don’t give our full efforts in completing it. We do it in a halfhearted effort more with the thought of having to get done than just doing it by will. This leads to imperfections. This leads to incomplete and substandard work. And substandard work always leads to dissatisfaction amongst those who expected the work from you. This will coax them to complain about your effort, intern triggering the cycle again – the cycle of PROCRASTINATION.

What is PROCRASTINATION?

Going by Wikipedia’s definition, Procrastination is the deferment or avoidance of an action or task and is often linked to Perfectionism. For the person procrastinating this may result in stress, a sense of guilt, the loss of productivity, the creation of crisis, and the charging of others for not fulfilling one’s responsibilities or commitments.

While it is normal for individuals to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological or physiological disorder.

Harold Taylor defines procrastination as the intentional and habitual postponement of an important task that should be done now. As mentioned above in the definition and explanation section, procrastination is not always bad, it good to delay a decision till we are clear with it, and there by make a better and more sound decision, but this should not push the decision indefinitely – there is definitely a breaking point beyond which we cannot procrastinate. Knowing this limit is very important to use procrastination to an advantage. This is not just with regard to decisions that we take on procrastination, it applies to the work we want to do.procrastination-good

We try delaying the work till we feel comfortable. What exactly if the comfort level? Where does this end? Where does procrastination become an enemy from a friend?

This decision can be taken only by practice; it is as a product of our habit and experience that we can determine when we have reached the limit of procrastination. It’s this procrastination in decision-making that can help us make a better analysis and assessment. But if we miss the stipulated time frame, we loose everything. We lose the whole purpose and incur huge loss. Evidently the limit can only be got by practicing, looking at the surrounding and at the situation more carefully.

How do I stop Procrastinating too much?

This, we need to understand it really well. Procrastinating might have become a habit, and habits are hard to change, however, we can follow certain steps to reduce procrastination to the appropriate extent. Let me try to do this in a bit of organized manner – i.e. dealing with the reason and then giving suggestions to handle them.

Procrastination is been analyzed by their root cause and some suggestions are noted down here.

We can classify these tasks into two broad classes:

TASK STRATEGIES:

  • Unpleasant Tasks
  • Complex Project
  • Indecision
  • Fear of Failure
  • Lack on Interest
  • Perfectionism
  • Hostility Towards a Boss
  • Distraction, Lack of Focus
We have to realize that rarely unpleasant task turn out to be as bad as we think they are. We can schedule these tasks to the beginning of the day. This will help us finish off these tasks at the earliest. On completing give your self regards for completing them.
Something looms ahead of you: starting a small business, getting a job, preparing the annual budget. The job is too big or will take too long to do now, so you put it off. The solution here is to break the large job into small manageable ones over a time frame… Plan and complete a start-up task, no matter how small. 
People delay because they can’t make up their minds. Determine a time for making a decision and the criteria for making it. Share your deadline with someone else. 
People don’t want to face the consequences of failure, so they delay. (Some people suffer from fear of success too!). Develop a clear mental picture of the completed task and how you will feel at that time. Maintain a focus on the end result, not just the process. Remind yourself how good you’ll feel when you’re finished. This helps improve your confidence…and pushes you to perform. 
You are tired or lazy. You’re just not very interested in the task. This is one of the most paining reasons as it has the feel – “I can but I won’t”. Reward yourself for accomplishments. Go out for special lunches when major projects are completed. If you don’t earn the reward, don’t take it. Schedule the task of fun and enjoyment for when you will be at your peak, which will keep the enthusiasm. 
People delay because they want to get perfect. Set deadlines for yourself. Tell other people your deadlines and encourage them to check up on you. Maintain your high standards, but recognize that sometimes 80% for you may well be 100% for someone else. Don’t spend hours conducting a detailed cost breakdown when a rough estimate would suffice. This is to set benchmark for your performance… its better to have our goals high so that it exceeds the expectations of the person who is inspecting you. This increases you confidence as well. 
People delay because they don’t like the person who assigned the task. Review with your boss what exactly is needed. Clarify the expectations. Make a game out of unpleasant tasks. Give yourself points, or do a running commentary on yourself as you do the task. Just make it a fun working the task that’s the Idea. 
Sometimes losing concentration causes delays. Create a to-do list with priorities, Block your time for projects, As you get distracted from a work project, make a rule that you are not allowed to move out of your chair, make a call, surf the net, pick up a book etc. until you return to your task. Complete something. Make a very small task for yourself and finish it. Then, make another one. 

ENVIRONMENT STRATEGIES

Tailor your environment for work. Close your door, clean up the clutter on your desk. Remove distractions such as water coolers, snacks, in-boxes, coffee machines and magazine racks. If you work at home, treat your office as an office. Don’t go out to lunch before lunchtime or watch television before the end of the day. Tell your family that you are not to be disturbed in your home office.

These are for the solution part of the problem of procrastinating. I believe can help us get out of this habit. After going though these suggestions now I always believe in “Let the thought of fear not take away the Joy of success later”. I think in these lines most of the time. If I loose I don’t loose the lesson. I may look childish in my attempts, but I am ready to learn like a child. This is my Inspiration. This is my style of life now. It’s been exciting ever since I took to this style. I have been happy, really happy since. Look into and let me know if these strategies have helped you reduce the delays due to Procrastinating and made you proactive.

[Guest post by Sachidananda Benegal]

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