Understanding Procrastination

If you view yourself as a procrastinator, you may also feel at times that something is wrong with you. The bad news is that you’re probably right (hold on, don't leave yet). The not-necessarily-bad news is that everyone has something wrong with them and no one is perfect. The better news is that there are things that you can do about it.

A problem behavior can be defined as a behavior that is undesirable and gets in the way of everyday functioning. The second part is key: if your tendency to put things off until later doesn’t distress you or doesn’t get in the way of your goals, abilities, and potentials, then there isn’t a serious problem. However, if your procrastination results in unnecessary anxiety, decreased work performance, stressed personal relationships, and so on, then you have a real beast on your hands.

Many people function best by working first and playing later; others prefer to play first and work later. Different personality types call for different approaches, and if one works better than the other for you, then go with it.

But before you latch on to the “play, then work” mentality, carefully look at yourself first. Why are you choosing that option? What is your motivation to put your work off? If your answer is anything close to “I don’t have the motivation,” “I don’t want to work,” “I’d rather have fun,” or “I just can’t get going,” then you’re heading down a busted track! This isn’t delaying your work, it’s avoiding your work.

Be honest with yourself: is there anything in your reason for not working that indicates to you that you’ll be more motivated to work later on? Will watching one more episode of The Simpsons somehow magically motivate you? You know the answer to that, right?

Reflect (honestly!) on your work habits for a bit. Notice any tendencies that could use some tweaking? Awareness of bad habits is the first and easiest step to improving yourself. Actually changing those bad habits, however, is usually a different story. We'll work on getting more into this later...as long as there aren't any good Simpsons episodes on.

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