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  • Kajal Kumar/People at Work

Procrastination- Are you reading this to delay what you should be doing?.....

Updated: Jul 1

Procrastination - noun the action of postponing or delaying something.


You had a week to write that report (or in my case this blog!!) you put it off again and again, you did manage to sort out your desk drawer putting all your pens into colour order, fold and put away all your washing, scroll though social media, make a shopping list and brush the cat, but now the report is due in today and your manager wants to look it over before you submit it! Sound familiar? Many of us do this to some degree or another, but why do we do it and how can we stop and get things done when we should?


People at Work counsellor and coach Kajal Kumar explains below:


Do you feel or know when you procrastinate? We all procrastinate but do we always know why?

We often think procrastination is a form of laziness or poor time management, when it’s usually an emotional response to a task. You might want to do the task, but the thought of taking action feels daunting. Whether that’s because the task is potentially boring, it brings up feelings of self-doubt, or you’re a perfectionist. 

 



Here are some of the surface level reasons why we procrastinate

 

  • We do not like the task at hand

  •  We are “asked” or “made” to complete the task

  • We have lost interest, but the task needs to be completed

  • It is tedious, boring, hard, and/or time consuming

  • ·It could be complicated

  • Not sure how to complete it

  •  Not seeing the point of the task

  •  It seems unachievable, massive, and unmanageable

  •  Indecisiveness as to how to tackle the task 

 

Other deeper level reasons why we procrastinate


  • We lack or lose confidence

  • We seek control

  • We want to do it in our way, at our pace

  • We might be a perfectionist and want to get it right

  • We might lack self-control and discipline

  • We may lack organisational skills

  • We underestimate the level of commitment and time it requires

  • We might have a fear of failure, or the overwhelming feelings can lead us to self-sabotage

  • We might feel anxious due to peer pressure and competition

  • We stop believing in ourselves

  • We lose faith and confidence in our potential

  • We fear success - it sounds counterintuitive, but you’d be surprised at how often this is the case!

  • We don’t feel good enough

  •  We have imposter syndrome

 

Do you relate with any of the above?


 

 

How many times have you decided that a list is the answer? How many to-do lists do you have? Does yours get longer every day? Is it filled with things that never get done?

To-do lists can be a great way to help you organise your day but are they tools that help you procrastinate more?


Here are 5 ways to help you make sure your to-do lists help you get things done.

1.    Have one long to-do list, but then break that down into smaller, daily actionable lists. This way, you can make sure you are getting the important things done and you don’t feel overwhelmed when you look at the list of things you need to do.

2.    Have an order of importance. Don’t push those big or hard jobs to the bottom of the list every day. Choose one important job and then some less important jobs every day so you know that you’re taking the steps that will move you forward and not ignore them.

3.    Break down the big jobs. ‘Update website’ is one thing on your to-do list, but it’s a huge thing so what does that task involve. The more you break it down the less daunting it feels.

4.    Do your most important task first. Don’t put off the big jobs until the end of the day, get them out of the way first. This way you feel like you’ve achieved something, and you’ll be more motivated for the rest of the day.

5.    Set a timer. When a job feels too big or you’re not excited about doing it then putting it off is easy. Why not set a timer and only do that task until the timer goes off. That way, you’re getting some of it done without it stealing your time for the whole day.


 

To-do lists can be a great way to keep you motivated, but they can also be an excuse for procrastination. If your to-do lists are holding you back, then give these 5 things a try.


Kajal Kumar is a counsellor, psychotherapist and coach and is part of the People at Work network of therapists. Kajal's mission is to help others live life to the fullest and has helped thousands of clients over the past decade.


If you're still struggling with procrastination talk to one of the People at Work team for more tips on managing your workload.


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