[proh-kras-tuh–ney-shuh] noun. the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate action.
Procrastination is a plague that hampers the vast majority of people in their daily lives. People tend to wait until the last minute to do anything. How many college students go through their school lives doing their assignments the night before? Even those who work for a living; how often do they wait until right before the report is due to work on it.
The question is rhetorical–we all know the answer. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t have a problem with procrastination to some extent. Procrastination affects most people in all walks of life. From the very old to the very young and everyone in between. Some say that without the very last minute, nothing gets done.
How it affects me?
To me, procrastination is the epitome of a bad day. When I fall into the procrastination trap, it turns a bad morning into a worse day that is near impossible to correct. To keep the evil devil away, many things have to happen or else I don’t have the productive day that I desire.
As I have stated in past blogs, I write a daily list of things I want to get done the night before. This reinforces what I need to get done and keeps me motivated to stay on track with what I need to do.
I must also make sure I get to sleep at a decent time. Staying up all night doesn’t help the next day at all. Getting to sleep and having a restful sleep is important. I do suffer from bouts of insomnia; however, it is stress related. My stress, at the moment, is on the low side. If it rises, I will suffer from days on end of it, but I do have remedies for that. It is not as good as going to sleep properly, but it is better than nothing.
The next thing is getting up at a decent time. I know there are many people that say that when you get up doesn’t matter. That as long as you are sleeping for the necessary amount of hours and are able to make it to other events like work or school, then who cares. Unless you work graveyards, in my opinion, then getting up at a decent time sets up the day. For me, having kids, they have school early, and that means that I have to be functional during that time. It is a given. So, by getting up at a decent time and fully rested, then I have a solid foundation to work.
The third thing is food. For me when I am working on a project, I get sidetracked, and I forget to eat. The day disappears, and it is soon getting dark, and all I’ve had is the four cups of coffee. The term ‘hangry’ comes to mind. It’s not good for getting things done. All it takes is one distraction on an empty stomach then the hangry takes over, and then I put things off. Once I put it off, I end up going down a rabbit hole that never ends up well.
What does this all mean?
Some think that all you have to do is simply do the work. Putting things off until the last minute is a lazy thing to do. Usually, most people come to realize and remorse that they have procrastinated. However, this is not always the case. For some, they are lazy, and they procrastinate because of it. However, there is usually an underlining issue that affects them. Bad habits, and mental blocks.
Habits, both good and bad take time to set in place. Like good concrete, or good wine. It all takes time. The 21 days habit myth has been floating around the internet for ages, but it isn’t necessarily the case. Studies have shown that habits take between 18 and 256 days to form with the average being 66 days. This is significant, cause for one person it might take only a few weeks to break the procrastination bug, while others it will take longer.
However, a person with the bad habit of procrastinating must set himself up with methods and tricks to get him to move him to action. To break the pattern, it must be done daily for a few months. It is like learning how to drive. When I learned how to drive, I had to say the actions that I did before I did them. Cause I was afraid that I would forget to do them. I did that for weeks, to the horror of my mother I am sure. Then one day I stopped saying the words as the actions had become second nature to me. That is what needs to happen. To stop procrastinating and make the goals that I have set happen, I need to break the procrastinating habit using all of the tricks listed above.
Please note, that this is not writer’s block. It doesn’t exist. I have written about it in the past, and I may revisit it at some point in the future. This is a mental block to do the task that needs to get done. It is when the thought of it stops someone from doing it. Me, it is large crowds and long lineups. I hate them. As such, I hate the mall and going to government buildings to get things done. Unless I absolutely need to, I won’t do it. I will procrastinate going as much as I can for as long as I can.
Now, going to the mall or sitting in a long line up has nothing to do with my goal. But it may be necessary for other goals that I make. At that point, I am going to have to deal with it and do it. It is a given. But for writing, as it is my goal, sometimes the issue comes from not knowing where the story is going. This creates a block that sometimes makes it hard to push forward and get the work done. This easily leads to distraction and the issues of sleep and food become a big issue. If I am struggling with where the story is going, and I haven’t eaten or didn’t sleep, then the issue compounds. I end up procrastinating.
For those that want to end the plague of procrastination that has engulfed your life, you need to figure out what sets off the dreaded procrastination. Once you figure out the problem, then it is easier to develop a strategy to overcome those issues. My list above is what works for me. It may not be what works for you.