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Why Do We Procrastinate and How to Tackle It?

Have you ever thought “I’ll do it later”, “I still have time to watch one more episode” or started working on another task when you would have had another more urgent one to do?

Although procrastination – postponing or delaying working on a task – often makes us feel more stressed, it is something we all have done. You might have even felt jealous of a friend who tells about all the things they have done during the day, while you have spent the whole day laying in bed. These tricks will help you understand why you procrastinate and how to overcome it.

Planning and deadlines  

If the deadline is far away, it’s difficult to find motivation to start working straight away and instead think “I will have time to do this later”. However, you might end up working in panic the night before the deadline. Underestimating the time it takes to complete a task is very common and known as planning fallacy. On the other hand, if there is no set deadline, procrastinating is considerably easier. Even if the task wouldn’t require a deadline, having one is important. Write it down in your calendar and tell someone about it! Perhaps you can request a friend to ask you how you're getting along with the task every now and then. 

opened white notebook

Mindset

Even without realising, procrastination is often a result of having lack of self-confidence or being afraid of a task; maybe you feel anxious about getting negative feedback or you are a perfectionist and afraid of not getting the perfect outcome. The one way around this is changing your mindset, but asking for extra help or encouragement from a friend can also help. If your perfectionism is in the way, think of the times when not being perfect has been an advantage. You learn as you go!

Splitting up the task into smaller ones

Going for a six-mile run at nine o'clock in the morning doesn’t sound compelling. However, splitting up the task into smaller ones will make the task seem smaller: consider three two-mile runs instead and spread them out throughout the day or even a week. If you have multiple smaller tasks to complete, you can do several in one sitting and have some extra time off in the future. Don't forget to prioritise your tasks!

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

Staying motivated

A simple thing that can sometimes be so difficult. Write a list of reasons why you should complete the task and what you will gain by doing it. Money itself isn’t always enough for motivation, but perhaps you will learn something new and valuable in the process. Keep in mind that your gains in the future are greater than the immediate ones, so focus on the future instead of the present! Remember to have days off and plan the hours when you will be working in advance. Good luck!