I recently missed an important deadline on a project due to procrastination. I had to submit an outline on an article and due to simple procrastination I missed the deadline. I was able to move the get the deadline extended, but not without a fair amount of embarrassment. I am sure this has happened to you as well, maybe many times? This embarrassing event highlighted the danger of procrastination and its effect on various areas of our lives.
The Imperceptible Effect of Procrastination
Procrastination has a devastating effect on our margin. Margin is the amount of spare capacity you have in any given area of your life. The reason procrastination is so dangerous is because it lulls you into a false sense of calm because nothing drastically seems to happen when you postpone an important task. However not finishing the task eats away at your margin and affects the following four areas of your life.
Procrastination Eats Away Your Emotional Margin
The nagging feeling of having unfinished business when doing something else, drains your emotional energy. This causes subconscious stress which in turn drains even more emotional energy, creating a vicious circle.
Procrastination Eats Away Your Intellectual Margin
Procrastination always keeps some part of your brain occupied with the issue. Although you focus on other things, now and then you find yourself thinking about the unfinished task. This takes up valuable mind-space you could use much more productively.
Procrastination Eats Away Your Motivation
Procrastination seems to feed on itself. The longer you procrastinate the more difficult it becomes to start with the task. Soon you find yourself at a point where is seems impossible to start and you feel totally demotivated. This demotivation filters through to other areas of your life as well.
Procrastination Eats Away Your Ability to Choose
Starting a task in time allows the ability to make certain decisions about how and when you want to complete the task. The longer you put of this action the more it diminishes your options of how and when to deal with a situation. Soon you reach the point where you just have to do something, whether it is the best way or not.
Getting Rid of Procrastination
Dealing with procrastination is difficult. Sometimes it takes a minor crisis, like missing the submission deadline for the article outline forced me, rather painfully, to deal with the issue. It is possible to avoid a crisis by following these steps.
Admit You are a Procrastinator
This is the most difficult part of getting rid of procrastination, because you are so close to the problem. Create a “List of Shame” by listing problems you had to manage and opportunities you missed, because you did not act earlier. Be brutally honest and stick this “List of Shame” somewhere you can regularly see it.
Determine the Cause
Do a bit of soul-searching. What cause you to put things off? Is it laziness, feeling overwhelmed or fear of failure?
Keep a Task and Issue Diary
Keep track of tasks and potential issues with a timeline to assist you in planning better to finish tasks. When you set deadlines for yourself, apply strict self-discipline and stick to the deadline, no matter what.
Focus on what is Important
Not everything urgent is also important. Make the distinction between important but not urgent things and focus on them. To be able to do this you have to create margin, by sorting out the urgent and important things first.
Keep Yourself Accountable
Seek out a trustworthy person, preferably with more life experience than yourself and enter into a mentoring relationship with this person. Ask your mentor to keep you accountable for your progress in fighting procrastination.
We all suffer from procrastination at some point. I would like to hear your suggestions on how you get rid of procrastination.