I read something this week that made me laugh. It started like this “Do you ever find yourself waiting until the last possible minute to complete a task that needs done? Do you find yourself inviting people over for a gathering so that you have a reason to clean? Do you find it hard to say “no”? Do you have too many things on your “to do” list? Do you find yourself avoiding things that really could easily be done? How many of you can relate?
Procrastination is defined as “to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done”. There are many levels of procrastination but four main reasons have been identified for why a person procrastinates:
1. The belief that a task is too hard to achieve.
2. The task appears too time consuming.
3. The fear of making a mistake while completing the task.
4. The lack of knowledge about the task.
It seems as there are varying degrees of putting things off and sometimes it’s just because there is something that we would rather do that the task at hand. Why do we need to identify why we do this? Because once I know why I put things off, it will be easier to change my behavior. Do I feel like things have to be perfect? Or that I can’t be successful in doing the task? Procrastination allows us to live in a world of make believe that somehow, someway, it will resolve itself. If you would like a complete list of how to change your ways, see http://www.columbia.edu/itc/gs/study/readings/PROCRAS.htm
What are simple things I can start to break the cycle of procrastination? See if any of these might work for you?
Instead of cleaning the whole kitchen, do one drawer or cupboard each day
Start with your deadline and plan backwards with a calendar so that you allow enough time to get the project done.
Make a list of things that could be accomplished in 10-15 minutes. Post it someplace that you can see and take time to choose one task a day to tackle. Consider making a list for children to choose from also.
Either the night before, or early in the morning, make a priority list of things that you’d like to get done for the day. Ideally make another list for things you’d like to get done through the week so that if you are ahead of schedule, you can choose one from another list to mark off. If you are a morning person, place your difficult tasks in the morning. If you work better at night, reverse the order of things so you ease into the day.
Getting started is the hardest part, so see if someone else in the family can help you get started? Or what about setting a timer and telling yourself, “I’ll work on this for 15 minutes, and then I’ll quit.” Many times I get started and want to finish, but I have an out if things are progressing like I think they should.
Pick one thing and get started, it’s the best way to overcome the art of Procrastination!!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.