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How to Stop Procrastinating

In psychology, procrastination is a person’s tendency to constantly put things off until later, even if they are important and require urgent attention. Such behavior, as a rule, leads to life problems, as well as stress, loss of efficiency and productivity, guilt, and low self-esteem.

Procrastination is a pause between the desire to do something and the action itself. A person deliberately postpones an important matter, even if he knows that this will make him feel worse. As a result, he often has to do everything at the last moment.

For example, you need to prepare a presentation for a client. You know that you will have to study a lot of information and ask colleagues for something else. Then sit down and finally do it. At this moment no one should distract you. And you’re stalling. The longer you delay, the more likely you are to make presentations under stress and make mistakes.

It may not be preparing a presentation, but, for example, a plan to learn a foreign language, change jobs, or open your own business. If you put off an important step, you will procrastinate.

How to Stop Procrastinating

Are You a Procrastinator or a Lazy Person? What are the differences?

Laziness is born due to indecision, lack of initiative, and inertia. The main difference between procrastination meaning and laziness is the refusal to take responsibility for the decisions made. Some psychologists argue that, as such, the concept of “laziness” does not exist. It’s just saving the body’s resources. In other words, the body does not want to spend energy on unnecessary things but leaves energy for more important things.

With procrastination, responsibility is not removed from oneself, but all things are done with a great delay. That is why these two concepts should not be confused.

Reasons for Procrastinating

Procrastination can develop into a chronic form. In a simple version, the reasons for its appearance are:

  • fear of failure, and defeat;
  • inability to make decisions;
  • low self-esteem;
  • perfectionism;
  • lack of motivation;
  • fear of change;
  • fatigue;
  • habits near me.

Another reason is the inability to prioritize. Some people procrastinate because they don’t know what to do first.

How to Determine the Level of Procrastination

The Procrastination at Work Scale (PAWS), developed by scientists from the University of Utrecht, will help you put off the meaning of this bad habit. The method is designed to identify the ways people kill time at work, but it can be used in other areas of life as well.

The developers of PAWS identify 12 main ways to procrastinate. To determine which one you are inclined to, rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 7 (in the original version of the scale – from 0 to 6), where 1 means you never do it, and 7 means you always do it.

How to Stop Procrastinating

The questions in the test are divided into two parts: the first eight help determine the imitation of violent activity (or avoidance of work tasks), and the remaining four are cyberslacking (wasting work time on the Internet). If the final score is equal to or more than 36, your procrastination is progressing. 

  1. When I work, even after I make a decision, I put it off.
  2. I pause before starting the work I have to do.
  3. At work, I look forward to having a good time so much that it is difficult for me to focus on my duties.
  4. When work gets tiring, I find myself over and over again enjoying daydreaming instead of focusing.
  5. I prioritize less important tasks even if there is something more important to do at work.
  6. When I have too much work, I avoid planning my tasks and suddenly find myself doing something else.
  7. I take long coffee breaks.
  8. I put off some tasks because I don’t enjoy doing them.
  9. I correspond with social networks and instant messengers at work.
  10. I always spend more than half an hour on social media while working.
  11. I read the news on the Internet at work.
  12. I shop online during business hours.

How to Get Rid of Procrastination

Boredom is one of the major causes of procrastination. A job that does not provide enough mental activity is more likely to create the conditions for procrastination. However, its causes are not only in the laxity of a person but also in his environment. Try to make high demands on yourself while overcoming procrastination. That helps you resist the temptation to procrastinate and get distracted. From this point of view, The 12 PAWS points translate into practical steps to implement change:

How to Stop Procrastinating
  1. If you are procrastinating in making decisions, set yourself a deadline. Then, within that framework, define achievable goals that will help you work more effectively.
  2. Delays before starting work can be helpful if they help you gather your thoughts. As in the previous paragraph, set a limit on the duration of these delays.
  3. Craving for entertainment may indicate that you are bored. But there are ways to overcome it: complicate your everyday tasks, and perform them more carefully.
  4. If daydreaming gets in the way of focus, start delving deeper into the task to find something useful for the mind.
  5. Prioritization is one of the best ways to avoid procrastination. Be sure to reward yourself for completing important (but complex) tasks on time.
  1. Don’t let the size of the task stop you from getting started. If you have a lot of tasks, break them down into parts that are easier to handle.
  2. If you look forward to something after a break it will be easy to shorten it.
  3. You can not avoid routine work, but the sooner you complete it, the sooner you can return to what you like.
  4. Correspondence in social networks during work should be limited. Refrain from communicating until you have done at least part of the work.
  5. If you have time left after you have finished work, done household chores, or fulfilled other obligations, you can spend it entirely on social networks. 
  6. It is easy to lose track of time because of the news on the Internet. Schedule a specific part of your day to surf the Internet. You can also read the news during your coffee break.
  7. Online shopping is one of the most time-consuming types of cyber procrastination. Usually, online shopping takes longer than we expect. If you are worried that the item you need will disappear from the sale, buy it, and then return to the task. If you’re shopping for pleasure, use shopping as a reward for a well-done job.

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