We all procrastinate, but some of us are guiltier than others. If you’re finding that you’re leaving everything to the last minute and often find your day has gone and nothing is done, you might just be a procrastinator.
Why We Procrastinate
Procrastination happens for several reasons. Usually it’s because whatever we’re putting off doesn’t seem urgent. This is true of anything with a deadline “in the future” whether that’s next week or next year. We put things off that aren’t due now because we’re prioritizing, but the problem is that the future comes quickly. There’s also a certain mental reward to having finished a project at the wire and still made it.
Another reason we procrastinate is that we simply don’t want to do a specific thing or task. Avoiding unpleasant experiences is normal, and it’s the way our brains cope with many situations. But part of life is doing things we don’t want to.
Finally, it might not even be your fault. Much of procrastination comes from just having poor memory. Our short term memory can only handle 5 or 6 things before they’re forgotten. Memory is made up of several different portions of the brain and if your memory isn’t great then there’s a good chance that you simply forget to prioritize.
Fixing Time Management
Fixing how you see time is one of the first steps to stopping procrastination. When you see a deadline as being in the distant future, it’s not urgent. The easiest way around this is to schedule. Setting a schedule allows you to prioritize items that are urgent but it also makes you aware of how much spare time you have. Keep your schedule a little flexible with some openings so that you can still fit in unexpected needs.
Eisenhower came up with a great method of determining where on your schedule you should do things. Rank everything in two columns by Urgency and Importance. If an item is both urgent and important schedule it first. If it’s neither urgent nor important then you can probably delegate it to someone else.
Dealing with Unpleasantness
When you simply don’t want to do something, it’s hard to persuade yourself otherwise. The best way around this is a reward. Your reward doesn’t have to be big, expensive or even important. Try to think of a reward that is appropriate to the task. For example, if you tend to procrastinate about doing the dishes reward yourself afterwards by watching an episode of your favorite show. Set yourself a limit if you are going to spend money but consider simple rewards like reading for 30 minutes too.
Improving your memory is as simple as playing games. You can pick five items in any room then walk to the next room and try and remember which five you picked. Similarly, actually having that schedule we looked at earlier written down makes it easier to remember. Consider using an app or putting it somewhere visible like on the fridge so you can keep track. You could also consider taking supplements.
There’s more you can do to make yourself more productive but if you’re not getting results there’s a chance you may be struggling with an attention disorder. ADD and ADHD both have procrastination as one of the largest symptoms. A certified professional can quickly tell you if your procrastination is more than just bad organizing. The easiest way to find a therapist or counselor is to head to a site like Better Help and make an appointment. They may be able to suggest medications or treatments which are efficient in fixing your procrastination problems.