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Procrastination was once thought to be a basic time-management problem, but recent studies have proven it to be a highly complex phenomenon and one which is largely individual. While the behavior is universal, the HOW and the WHY we experience procrastination are very personal.
In Part I, we looked at the larger picture of procrastination, what it is and what it’s not. In Part II we’ll consider it on the individual scale, what procrastination means to YOU and why overcoming procrastination is a process which requires more than time-management hacks.
Like many behaviors, we need to understand where they come from in order to address them. As we discussed in Part I, procrastination kicks in when we feel aversion to a certain task, proving that procrastination is an emotional response.
A quick fix is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm and hoping for it to be as good as new. You need to get right into the broken pieces, by asking yourself ‘Why do I procrastinate?’ Only, then can you begin to rebuild and repair.
One of the greatest tools for any entrepreneur is self-awareness. We all have different goals, motivators, personalities, and weaknesses. Knowing what they are and who we are, makes us more effective, helps us make better decisions, be more creative, and ultimately be more productive. This self-awareness also helps us overcome procrastination.
Being self-aware helps you to realize and acknowledge when you are procrastinating and this, in turn, allows you to explore where that feeling of aversion is coming from. Knowing what your personal trigger is and why, means you can choose the right solution to tackle it.
I found that I procrastinate on certain tasks that make me feel uncomfortable, such as sending an email with negative feedback to a freelancer. I know that this stems from my personality and being aware of that I can put things in place/take steps to overcome that sense of discomfort and get the task done.
Another huge risk factor for me is uncertainty. Whenever I need to do something that I’m not really sure of what the next step is, my first instinct is to procrastinate on it (most often by doing a routine task I know how to do well). I have learned to recognize this, however, and now I try to counter this proactively by indicating any gaps and defining next steps (however small) to start overcoming this uncertainty and to keep the momentum.
You are unique. We may all experience similar struggles and show similar personality traits, but everyone’s experience is unique to them. What one person finds an aversive task, someone else will love doing!
We all have different reasons for procrastinating and therefore, it makes sense that different solutions are necessary.
You might avoid doing something simply because the task is tedious or frustrating. Others procrastinate when they feel that the task is too difficult, or they just have no idea where to start.
Feelings of being overwhelmed or anxiousness can paralyze us into not taking action. Fear of making a mistake or having an end product that is less than perfect can mean never finishing the task or never starting it!
In the same way that you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, when it comes to overcoming procrastination, one size does not fit all. We need multiple ‘pegs’ of different shapes and sizes to fulfill our needs.
Living a guilt-free life, free from procrastination is possible but there is no magic wand that will ‘cure’ it or banish it forever. Overcoming procrastination takes time and effort. It’s a process, of self-discovery and trial and error. Understanding your reasons (and there may be many) will help you pick and choose what solutions work for you.
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