It’s the end of the semester and you have a huge research paper due. You know you should start working on it, but somehow you just can’t seem to get started. Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re part of a very large group of people who suffer from the scourge of procrastination.
But what exactly is procrastination? And why do we do it?
Procrastination is the act of deliberately delaying something that you know you should be doing. It’s not just putting off your work until the last minute – it’s a deliberate choice to do something else, anything else, other than the task at hand.
There are a number of theories about why we procrastinate, but one of the most popular is that it’s a form of self-sabotage. We procrastinate because we’re afraid of failure, or because we think we don’t have the skills or knowledge to complete the task at hand.
Whatever the reason, procrastination can have some serious consequences. It can lead to missed deadlines, lower grades, and even lost jobs.
So how can you overcome this destructive habit?
The first step is to understand why you’re doing it. Once you know the reason, you can start to put together a plan to overcome your fears or doubts.
If you’re procrastinating because you’re afraid of failure, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. It’s okay to not be perfect. In fact, making mistakes is how we learn and grow.
If you’re procrastinating because you think you’re not good enough, remember that everyone has to start somewhere. You can’t be an expert at everything, but you can become an expert with time and practice.
Once you’ve identified the reason for your procrastination, the next step is to set some small, achievable goals. Rather than telling yourself you need to write the entire paper in one sitting, commit to writing just one page. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the next goal.
Breaking down a large task into smaller goals can make it feel much more manageable – and it’s more likely that you’ll actually stick to your plan.
Another helpful tip is to set a deadline for yourself, and then tell someone else about it. This will help you stay accountable and on track.
Finally, cut yourself some slack. Beating yourself up for procrastinating will only make it worse. Be kind to yourself, and understand that changing any habit takes time.
If you’re struggling with procrastination, know that you’re not alone. But with a little understanding and some self-compassion, you can overcome it.