Why do we Procrastinate

By; Desiree Lackey

I just received a notification that my blog is coming due soon – very soon.  It wasn’t that I forgot, or didn’t know. Mind you, I received the due date over 6 months ago. I put the date on all of my calendars – phone, desk, and computer.  I watched the months ticking away, then the weeks, then days, and now hours. I continuously said to myself, “ Ehh… I have plenty of time.”  And off to more important things I went.  Now, here I am, hours from the deadline. Did I hear someone say this is called ‘procrastination? Yes, that’s it – procrastination! The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary interprets the word to mean “To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.”  This totally describes what I am doing, putting off something today that should have already been done.

Why do we procrastinate? Some researches say that it is a by-product of the environment in which we live in, and the way we may have been brought up.  Others tell us they believe procrastination is hereditary. Procrastination seems to be part of human nature. After all, how many of us know someone who doesn’t procrastinate? Studies have shown that Type A personalities do not usually put off to tomorrow what they can do today.  Obviously I do not have a Type A personality. Sometimes people give procrastinators a label – laziness.   Is it truly laziness, or is just a form of poor time management?

The world we live in is so distracting. We have a lot of information running through our brains all the time.  Gone are the days when we could sit on our front porch rocking away in a chair, watching the sunset, and chatting about our morning. In today’s world, we are constantly moving, our minds are always going, and there never seems to be enough time in a day. We are constantly juggling things around, putting off this appointment, working on that project, thinking we can do this or that on a different day.

Have you ever put off something, and felt a short-term feeling of relief? It has been found that sometimes we put off doing something to bring us a temporary elevation in our mood. According to Piers Steel, an organizational behavior professor at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, and the author of “The Procrastination Equation”,  “Procrastination is a struggle between two parts of our brain – the prefrontal cortex, which is the region that controls planning and problem solving, and the limbic system, which is known as our ‘inner child’, which wants immediate gratification.

Even though you may not be able to totally cut out procrastination habits, there are ways that you may be able to alleviate some of the habit, with time and a little practice.

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Create a schedule. Create a timeline/schedule of all tasks, including deadlines. Being held accountable to finish something by a particular date usually keeps us in line.
  2. Schedule your hardest tasks for the time of day when you have the most energy. Some people do their best work first thing in the morning, others in the afternoon.
  3. Prioritize tasks and projects in order of importance.  Remember to take into account deadlines and the priorities of clients when prioritizing your projects.
  4. Set specific goals and then create an action plan. Plan your calendar carefully to ensure that you budget your time properly and don’t over-commit yourself.
  5. Analyze reasons for your procrastination.  Some common reasons for procrastination are over-commitment, stress, boredom, a lack of passion, and even the fear of failure.
  6. Plan for interruptions. Turn off your cell phone, close your door, and build in extra time for interruptions.
  7. Reward yourself for completing each stage of a project, not just once the project is finished.

I procrastinated for many days, but I finally finished my blog post before the deadline. I learned a lesson; don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today!