I have been meaning to write about procrastination for some time now, but haven’t got around to it. So, for those of you that don’t know what procrastination means… Postpone, delay, put off, hesitate, dawdle, protract, dilly-dally, haver, tarry, avoid, duck, elude, dodge, sidestep, evade, shirk, dither, shilly-shally.
OK, enough now. I think you get the message. I was never the sort of child who would do their homework at the start of the holidays. I would inevitably do it just before I was due to go back to school. We are probably all familiar with the creeping sense of dread as a deadline approaches. If we delay long enough, perhaps this will be replaced by a rising panic as we realise just how little time there is left. The prospect of embarrassment or failing finally gets us to start focusing and working on the task at hand. And, ultimately, that’s OK. There are no prizes for doing it early as long as it gets done, right?
Well, this applies to many tasks. But what did you do with the time you procrastinated? If it was something useful or productive then you could argue it’s not procrastination merely prioritisation. Or did you use the time to create a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) bee photo and post it on social media? As Christopher Parker (British Actor) said, “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill”.
This is bad enough, but what about tasks that don’t have a deadline? Things you should do or would like to do, but no one will pick you up on it if you don’t do it. Perhaps learning a skill that will help you change careers or taking up a new hobby. Mark Twain once said, “We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do”.
Now procrastination is not laziness. Procrastination is an active decision in that you choose to do something else instead of the task you should be doing. Laziness, in contrast, implies apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act. It normally involves delaying an unpleasant task in favour of one that is more enjoyable or easier.
Giving in to this impulse can have serious consequences for you. Minor cases of procrastination can make us feel guilty or ashamed, effecting our self-esteem. Longer periods can over time lead to demotivation and disillusionment with our work, which can cause burnout, depression and even job loss, in severe cases.
Procrastination is a trap we can all fall into. In fact, according to researcher and speaker Piers Steel (Professor at the Haskayne School of Business), 95% of us procrastinate to some degree. While it may be comforting to know that you’re not alone, it can be sobering to realise just how much it can hold you back.
Now when I get a chance I intend to write a follow up blog post about how to overcome procrastination. But then I did get so many likes for that bee photo, perhaps I will try to surpass that first.
If you procrastinate or struggle to focus on key tasks then Hypnotherapy can help. Hypnotherapy can help with exploring the root cause of a problem, breaking habits, will power and support. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.