Have I ever put off a task I really had to do?
How often do I find myself, at the end of the day, wishing I had completed more tasks?
Why do I do put things off?
Is procrastination a problem in my personal and/or academic life?
Procrastination is the most common motivational problem affecting all of us to some extent but severely affecting about 15-20% of the general population. And, its prevalence is growing. However, the percentage is higher amongst post-secondary students: 50 to 70% of students procrastinate to such an extent that they feel their marks are affected.
Procrastination is not simply putting things off. According to procrastination expert, Professor Piers Steel, at the University of Calgary, procrastination occurs when a person believes it would be better to start working on a task immediately, but can't get started.
We work very hard to find anything else to do which allows us to avoid the inevitable. For example, most of us wouldn't jump up and down to do housecleaning. However, faced with an even disliked task, e.g. preparing my comps, cleaning your toilet seems like a lot more fun!
Procrastination can occur for many reasons; however, here are some of the most typical reasons for procrastinating.
Some Typical Reasons for Procrastinating
P.S. Perfectionism is Not the Culprit!
Perfectionism is not a predictor of procrastination, according to Professor Steel. He argues that "perfectionists actually procrastinate less, but they worry about it more". He also points out that there may be a genetic component to procrastination. So, maybe you can blame your great-great grandparents.
Toronto Star, January 10 2007, “Sorry this is late; we meant to send it out sooner”. Available www.ucalgary.ca/news/january2007/procrastination-release.
Do I use:
In his book The NOW Habit Neil Fiore's distinguishes between procrastinators and producers.
The Effects of Negative Self Talk
Fiore argues that negative self-talk can lead to procrastination and outlines self-statements that distinguish procrastinators from producers.
Procrastinators say... Producers say...
"I must finish...' "When can I start?"
"This project is so big and important." "I can take one small step"
"I must be perfect." "I can be perfectly human."
"I don't have time to play." "I must take time to play!"
Fiore, N. (2007). The NOW habit: A strategic program for overcoming procrastination and enjoying guilt-free play. 2nd edition. Toronto: Penguin Group.
The MOTIVATION MYTH:
Don't wait for motivation to magically appear when you sit down to work.
Motivation usually follows after you've done the work.
1. The Pleasure/Pain Principal (56 KB): Procrastination causes both pleasure and pain. Ask yourself if one outweighs the other.
2. Use Covey's Time Management Matrix (108 KB). Focus on Quadrant II.
3. Set Realistic Goals: Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the available time. Try not to overshoot and become overwhelmed. Estimate about 25% MORE time to each task.
4. Plan & Schedule: Use the Weekly Schedule and a day timer to identify time available for school work and then commit to treating that time like a job.
5. Set False Deadlines: Set a false deadline about a week before the actual due date. Set up legitimate and meaningful check-ins with an outside party to ensure you meet your goal.
6. Remove Distractions: Don't try to fight temptation. Simply remove those distracting things so that you set yourself up for success.
7. Reward Yourself: Reward yourself for working hard with short and simple things that you enjoy. When you've earned it, feel proud of yourself. Conversely, do not reward yourself before you're completed your task.
8. Record Distracting Thoughts: Give your brain permission to forget distracting thoughts by writing them down and knowing you can return to them later.
9. Break the Habit: Like they say at Nike, Just Do It!