Many find it difficult to pronounce and spell correctly: procrastination is not a simple word. However, it is a term that has made a fortune in recent years as a cultured and refreshing version of what has always been called postponing or delaying.
It is true that in our daily lives we all have the right to schedule our chores in the way that suits us best, as long as this does not mean that we become stagnant or that there are people whose well-being is harmed by our own pace or by decisions about what we do not (yet) want to start.
In general, some things are important but can wait and others that are urgent and have to be solved as soon as possible. Some issues are not important but should be resolved and there are others we feel like doing a bit more… The important thing is to manage these tasks in a relatively efficient way.
However, what happens when the procrastination mechanism is installed in the way we cope and becomes solid there? We end up systematically paralyzed, leaving everything for later, regardless of the field in which we work.
If we procrastinate in our daily chores then that is our business, but it is not advisable to apply this style to the office. There we have to adapt our work pattern to the responsibilities assigned to us and we are part of a chain whose efficiency also depends on our performance.
Why do we procrastinate?
1. Lack of attention
We get distracted easily, anything catches our eye and entertains us, taking us away from the focus of our five senses: what we have to do right now and not wait much longer.
2. Lack of energy
In life in general and at work in particular there is something completely obvious but that should not go unnoticed: our performance requires us to have energy, tone, engagement.
If we are dominated by laziness, uncertainty, boredom, we are much more likely to be distracted precisely because the task ahead becomes much less desirable than it is. A little more focus and it will be easier to get on without procrastination getting in the way.
3. Lack of commitment to the task
There is nothing that delays the completion of a task more than lack of interest in it, lack of understanding, disagreement, or lack of involvement in it: not finding meaning in it. Therefore, we must not forget that one of the tools to overcome procrastination is to find meaning in tasks or to carry out tasks that make sense and which we can commit to.
4. Wrong strategy
Sometimes the tasks ahead of us are unappealing and it is hard to resist procrastination, as any other activity seems more appealing than tackling them.
However, beyond the fact that there is always something better to do than simply working, could it be that we have scheduled a task for now which is not due, because it is difficult and boring? Wouldn’t it have been better to postpone it, and that is why it is so hard for us to get on with it and, procrastinate as much as possible?
How to avoid the urge to procrastinate
1. Organize yourself properly
Prioritize according to your resources of attention, energy, time, inspiration, etc. Sometimes it is best to start with the least desirable task and get it out of the way and then be able to move on to the rest. Other times it is best to leave the worst for last and warm up with more manageable tasks. Decide what works best for the moment and get on with it.
2. Delegate, ask for help, divide and conquer
This can’t always be done because there are things that are our sole responsibility. Other times, with the company or collaboration of someone else, we find a way to unblock that wall of procrastination that paralyzes us and does not allow the work to move forward.
3. Get moving at all costs, don’t think about it
Although your pace, your sharpness, and your motivation towards a particular task are not (yet) at their peak, get on with it. Remember the old May ’68 slogan: act, it’s the action that counts. This guideline may not work for every situation, but it can certainly be a tool that unlocks certain mental blocks that lead us to procrastinate indefinitely.