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Do It Today, Instead Of Tomorrow

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." Viktor Frankl

You have the creative inspiration for a project that you are confident will bring positive recognition. You are brimming with enthusiasm and have every intention of completing the project. The planning phase of the project is flawless. Yet, you postpone getting started, and as your self-imposed deadline draws closer, you convince yourself you still have time.

Sounds familiar?

Procrastination is not to be confused with patience. However, the tendency to delay working on something is likely an impediment to success.

Signs you may be procrastinating

  • You do most of the work closer to or at the deadline.

  • Therefore, the project is completed primarily on nervous energy.

  • You persuade yourself; you work well under pressure.

  • The procrastination pattern is repeated several more times because it was successful on previous occasions and with little thought, if any, given to contingency planning.

  • Or even the sustainability of performing under self-induced stress.

  • Having non-specific goals.

  • You are afraid to fail or make mistakes.

  • You set goals that are aspirational versus realistic.

  • You invest time in nonessential activities to avoid working on the project.

  • You get overwhelmed when you do not have specific instructions about what to do.

Procrastination behaviors are not always observable. For example, procrastination manifests itself as seeking to attain perfection. So you wait for that perfect moment when you are "in the zone," but that moment never seems to arrive. Consequently, you delay starting the project because the conditions are not ideal. Importantly, you are scared of making a mistake.

The fear of making a mistake leads to self-doubt. The doubt finds companionship in avoidant behaviors and uncertainties about your ability to succeed. Once doubt takes root, it's another reason to delay starting the project, although, initially, you were enthusiastic about the project. You may have even gotten "in the zone," and for whatever reason, you stopped working on the project. Once you quit working on something, you may lack the motivation to restart if you have doubts.

Procrastination is not a character defect but a habit. Like any other habit, it just didn't develop overnight. However, you may examine your behavioral patterns over time and realize the reason you procrastinate. For example, when you procrastinate, what activities did you engage in instead of the project? What were your reasons for not starting the project? The answer to these questions may hold a solution to your tendency to procrastinate.

Do you treat decisions as though they are permanent and irreversible?

Most of us may struggle with varying degrees of procrastination. However, the underlying reason for delaying or avoiding a project may simply be finding no pleasure in the activity. In addition to simply not liking the task, As stated before, you may experience self-doubt about your ability to complete the job. The fear of success may also be a reason to procrastinate, as success brings responsibilities and the pressure of continued success.

As a result, you shilly-shally until you can no longer avoid the consequences. For example, a student knows failure to complete and submit a term paper will have adverse effects. Therefore, failure is not an option as it will affect the student's academic progress. So the project is completed and submitted at the deadline. Likewise, an account may delay running the financial reports because it is a tedious and mindless activity. Until the availability of the document can no longer be delayed because the chief financial officer needs it by 10 am the following day.

The critical issue with procrastination seems to be the method. Researchers Chu and Choi differentiated between procrastinators. They articulated there are passive and active procrastinators. Their position is that procrastination has long been seen as a negative. Still, there is an alternate way of viewing procrastination. Below are brief overviews of both types of procrastinators.

Passive Procrastinators

  • Have no intention to procrastinate

  • They delay working on a project because of their inability to make quick decisions

  • There is no immediacy to their actions

  • develop anxious feelings about their procrastination

  • experience high levels of stress

Active Procrastinators

  • Possess the capacity to be decisive in their decision making

  • They are intentional about delaying or working on a task

  • They postpone working on a project while prioritizing a project they deem more important

  • They don't get overwhelmed by the act of postponing a project

Suggestions to manage procrastination:

  • Work using a schedule rather than setting yourself deadlines.

  • Know your prime time. This is when you do your best work.

  • Prioritize progress over perfection.

  • Set yourself short and long-term goals.

  • Be mindful of the distractions in your work environment and reduce or eliminate them where possible.

  • Reward yourself with timely breaks to reduce becoming overwhelmed.

  • Think of solutions to eliminate a preoccupation with making mistakes.

  • Create a reasonable "To-Do List" for each phase of what you are working on. A long "To-Do List" makes it difficult to get started.

  • Pinpoint your fears or obstacles to getting the work done.

The suggestions list may seem long, but you do not have to use all of them. Instead, use the ones that best suit your needs and combine them with what you already do that works for you.


Stay Naturally Curious


Chu, A. H. C. & Choi, J. N. (2008). Rethinking procrastination: Positive effects of "active" procrastination behavior on attitudes and performance. The Journal of Social Psychology, 142(3), 245-264.

Klingsieck, K. B. (2013). Procrastination when good things don't come to those who wait. European Psychologist, 18 (1), 24-34. doi: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000138

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