We always tell ourselves that the next time, we won’t leave the work until the last minute. We will not sit until we complete the task at hand. But gradually we start falling back into old habits. One more episode won’t hurt. Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. The days pass and alas! Doomsday is here. The deadline is in sight and we have our panic mode on. What to do?
A large number of people have suffered from procrastination at some point. Accentuating the lackadaisical attitude toward procrastination are the myths that surround it. Following are five misconceptions about putting things off, and some tips on how to reframe our thinking.
Five most common myths of procrastination.
The number one myth about procrastination is that people assume it to be a time management issue. People are misguided when they believe that time can be managed. It also has its roots in the issue of respect for other people’s time. Which often goes unvalued? The only solution to this issue is to value the sanctity of others’ time and emotions as well as our own. Forgive yourself for having procrastinated earlier, and focus on not doing it again! As simple as that.
The second myth is that great results are delivered under pressure. Are you one of those people who reason his procrastination by telling themselves that you work well under pressure? The truth is that procrastination hampers performance. Scrambling around trying to finish assignments at the last minute and cramming the night before an exam is not the most effective or amusing way to get things done. Planning and pacing your projects always gets you superior results, and it’s a lot less nerve-wracking than constantly pulling all-nighters and handing things in at the last possible moment. If you’re convinced that you simply can’t get yourself to start on a task unless you feel the pressure of an approaching deadline, then start creating artificial pressure for yourself. By doing so, you get the best of both worlds. On the one hand, having artificial deadlines forces you to focus all of your attention on the task at hand, and it prevents you from escalating the work unnecessarily in order to fill the time available for its completion. On the other hand, this method allows you to give yourself adequate time to do ample research and to edit your work properly.
Myth number three is that you need to create the perfect environment for work, you need to have inspiration. Do you put off getting started on essential tasks until you’re “in the mood” or until inspiration strikes? This is merely procrastination in disguise. Instead of waiting for the ideas to start flowing before you get started on a task, you need to sit down and get to work with or without inspiration. You’ll find that inspiration is a consequence of having the discipline to do what needs to be done; inspiration comes from doing. Stop wasting time waiting for inspiration. Picasso was wise when he said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
Myth four is that you need an uninterrupted span of time to complete a task. While it may be important to have a few hours when you can work without disturbance, it is not a prerequisite. Just because you do not have 4 hours straight, doesn’t mean you will not do the work! Work in small stretches of time, such as fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, or half an hour. Once you get started on a task, it no longer looks as difficult and overwhelming as it did before you got started. This way you’ll be making continuous progress at a good speed. This approach allows you to create a sense of forwarding momentum. Each time that you get a little bit of the task done, it gives you a feeling of accomplishment. And you will not be wasting any time.
Myth number five is the biggest lie we all tell ourselves, that we will do a better task tomorrow. We always think that we will be more efficient tomorrow, more organized, more productive. But really, is tomorrow any different from today? Unless you start taking steps to become more productive and effective today, you’ll be as time-starved tomorrow as you are today. The same goes for discipline and organization. Don’t put things off for tomorrow, do it today.