The Pitfalls of Procrastination: What is It, and Why Do We Do It?
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” It’s timeless advice, as well as some of the easiest and most tempting advice to ignore. Procrastination is one of those things that we all assume we understand, but we wanted to take a bit of time to explore it in greater detail…and figure out how we can all work to resist it.
For the next few weeks, we’ll be breaking this subject down into its various parts. We’ll begin by taking a deep dive into the concept of procrastination itself and its numerous causes.
What is Procrastination, Exactly?
Generally speaking, procrastination is typically defined as any unnecessary postponing of a task—despite expected negative consequences for doing so. We’ve all done it at some point, even though we all know better and have likely been warned about the aforementioned consequences.
There are various reasons that people are susceptible to procrastinating. Some are active—which is what people do when they “work better under pressure,” and therefore intentionally wait until the last minute to work on something. More prevalent, however, are the passive forms of procrastination, which is what we’ll be examining today.
Procrastination Comes in Many Forms
Let’s explore what some of the most widely accepted reasons are for procrastinating so that we can better address how to fix them.
Fairly often, the tendency to only accept the best is seen as a positive thing, but if it prevents someone from successfully completing their tasks, it can quickly become a detriment. This tendency is known as the Nirvana Fallacy—the idea that the only way to make a task worthwhile is to perform it perfectly. This need to have control over, well, everything, in order to obtain this impossible perfection, is pervasive throughout our culture. It makes us afraid to fail.
This fear is what really brings about the procrastination of it all. After all, we can’t fail if the task isn’t done yet. Putting off the task at hand is a last-ditch way for us to maintain control, despite the fact that it just makes life more difficult for us later (and as a result, making failure more likely). French philosopher Voltaire perhaps said it best: “Perfect is the enemy of the good.”
Disorganization and Distraction
Unsurprisingly, time management skills—or the lack thereof—are a big contributor to procrastinative tendencies. Not being able to effectively break down larger responsibilities into specific tasks and schedule these tasks out appropriately can create significant issues that snowball into major problems. There’s also issues that can arise if you misunderstand or underestimate the time it will require for different tasks to be completed effectively, or if your priorities aren’t laid out in a way that aligns with your situation. It also doesn’t help that distractions are everywhere, trying to draw your attention away from these priorities.
Fear and Overwhelm
Finally, we have to address the fact that procrastination is often a direct result of stress, either coming from a perception of too many tasks (refer back to the disorganization we discussed above) or from a fear of failure (refer back to the aforementioned malicious perfectionism). Avoiding tasks for these reasons is prevalent in many, many businesses, creating problems at every level.
In Short, Procrastination Tends to Be a Symptom of Systemic Problems
Next, we’ll address how procrastination doesn’t manifest the same way in everyone, and how it can present itself differently amongst different people, so make sure you keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about the tools we can help you implement to help keep everyone on task and productive. Give us a call at 603-889-0800 to learn more.