How to Beat Procrastination

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Causes of Procrastination

“My mother always told me I wouldn't amount to anything because I procrastinate. I said 'Just wait.'” - Judy Tenuta

One explanation for why people put things off is because their to-do list scares them. Since we have a tendency to avoid things we don't like or which stress us out, we avoid our tasks. Of course, this only creates more stress, which gets associated with the task we are avoiding, leading us to avoid it even more. The solution is simply to do whatever needs doing, so you can relax, but since our natural reaction to stress is avoidance, we get stuck.

A great article on Psychology Today lists some other explanations for procrastination. Some people are afraid of failure, and they believe it is better simply not to try. Some people would rather be thought of as lazy than inept. Some people like the rush they get trying to finish something at the last minute. Many procrastinators are simply bad at managing their time, though on average they aren't much worse than other people.

No matter what the cause is, procrastinators don't get things done. Even things that they want to do get put off in favor of non-committal distractions (like checking your e-mail every five minutes when you'd rather be writing). It is a self-sabotaging habit, and there is really no good reason to put things off for later if you have everything you need to do them right away. It leads to anxiety disorders, stress that can cause health problems, and makes you a pretty useless human being.

It is a pretty insidious habit, and if you are used to getting things done at the last minute, you probably believe that there is no real cost to waiting, except for that nagging feeling that keeps you from enjoying your 'free' time. A common sequence of events goes like this: You have a task to do. You put it off until the last day, then finally get to work, deciding to finish your task so you can play your new video game afterwards. But instead of starting right away, you check your e-mail and Facebook first, then get sucked in. By the time you're done with that, you've already wasted an hour, and then you have to rush to finish your task, and you never get to play your game! So basically you traded playing video games for dawdling on e-mail and Facebook.

So how can you beat procrastination?

7 Strategies for Getting Things Done

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you overcome procrastination. One important thing to keep in mind is not to be too hard on yourself. We all procrastinate sometimes, but just because we do it once doesn't mean we should just give up on being timely in the future. Like anything else, efficiency is a habit developed day after day, and it becomes easier the more you do it.

Do you have any tips to add to the list that have helped you beat procrastination? Please share in the comments.