Let’s talk about procrastination. If you are like most people, procrastination is your worst enemy. Out of all my conversations with people, I find that procrastination factors into two big problems in our lives. First, Procrastination is preventing you from achieving your professional goals, and second, it is literally stealing away the valuable personal time that you should be using to relax, recuperate and work on that passion side project you have like starting a new business you are excited by. As a result, procrastination becomes the enemy of change and growth, especially if you are trying to build your dream career. That’s why I want to help you identify five things to look out for when it comes to procrastination. You may find that one or all five are hindering your ability to beat procrastination. The first step is being able to recognize which of these things could be causing your procrastination.
1. Fear of Failure
The first common cause of procrastination is the fear of failure. You think you won't be effective you believe you're bad at the task or at the other end of the spectrum, you have perfectionism. You feel that you have to be perfect at the task you need to do or else you're going to get rejected or some other negative thing will happen.
The second thing that is a really common cause of procrastination is overwhelm. I know you’ve seen all those memes on the internet. “I have so much to do, but all I want to do is take a nap.” That’s overwhelm, and as funny as those memes can be, not remedying that overwhelm is really taking a toll on your ability to actually recuperate from your work day because we fall into a vicious cycle. When we're overwhelmed, we're not doing our work and when we do our work we get overwhelmed even more. We procrastinate and work continues to pile up. Before we know it, procrastination has literally ruined our week, then our month, and then our entire year.
3. Energetic Exhaustion
The third thing I find that causes procrastination a lot is energetic exhaustion. Usually, energetic exhaustion is associated with chronic worry about money or situations happening in our lives. When we are worrying all the time, that takes energy and it literally sucks energy away from what is most important to us in our lives. By the time we get to the work we needed to accomplish, we're already exhausted from worry. That is when we go back to thinking, “I'm so tired I want to take a nap right now,” and we slip into procrastination.
The fourth thing that is a common root of procrastination is rationalization. This is what is happening when your brain convinces you that you should take a break instead of working on that task you have been putting off. You spent a few minutes on work yesterday, but there is still a lot to be done. Yet, your brain says, “Hey, I did that one thing yesterday. I deserve to take it easy!” Then, three days go by and you are still “taking it easy.” When we find ourselves trapped in rationalization, we are focusing more on the present gains than we are in the future gains of living the life that we want to live. Everyone needs a break sometimes, but the key is to be realistic with when you need a break and for how long. Not being realistic here leads to procrastination.
5. Perceived Infinite Amounts of Time
Finally, the fifth cause of procrastination is perceived infinite amounts of time. This is a result of not only overestimating the time we have to do a task, but also underestimating the amount of time it will take to do that task. You might recognize this situation. You have a task you have to do by the end of the week. You think, “This task will only take fifteen minutes and I have four whole evenings after work to get it done, no problem!” Then, you get to the end of the week and you are scrambling to finish that task you put off all week - and even worse - that “fifteen minute task” ends up taking over an hour. When we underestimate how long things will take us, that makes it easier for us to put things off until later and later and later. Before we know it, we’ve procrastinated away all that time we thought we had.
What do we do?
All five of these things are roadblocks for us to get stuff done. More importantly, these things are costing us our time with our family, loved ones, and friends, and even our time to relax and binge on some Netflix guilt-free at the end of the workday. We need tools in our tool belt to be able to manage procrastination and balance our personal and professional lives so that we can handle those times when e-mails are following you everywhere you go and work worry is taking over your mind. We also need to know how to curb the impulses to jump into the opposite end of the spectrum where you are on a 10 hour Netflix binge and avoiding your work completely.
I want to help you escape procrastination. That’s why I decided to create my free online training, Work-Life Balance: How to Enjoy Life Without Sacrificing Progress at Work. It is happening on November 19th at 7pm ET and is all about having your cake and eating it too. If you are really struggling with procrastination, grab your spot here so that you can learn how to keep work and procrastination from taking over your life.