Do you know Newton’s first law for students? “A student tends to be in procrastination unless an external force is applied to it”; by external force we mean of course deadlines, exams, etc… J
So, what is procrastination? Procrastination is usually defined as putting things off that you should be focusing on right now to do other things that are less important. According to this definition, do you consider yourself a procrastinator in more than 50% of your time? If the answer is yes, this means you have to do something to get rid of this habit. This is because procrastination is just a thief of your days. I like a quote said by El-Hassan Elbasary which was a great Arab scholar. He said “Oh! man, you are just days, if a day in your life has gone, a part of you have gone””.
But, why do we procrastinate? Actually, there are several reasons. In this article, we will focus on only three of them and we will give some quick tips to handle procrastination in each of these cases.
The first stage to recover from procrastination is by recognizing it in the first place and asking yourself “So, I am procrastinating now? Why?
1) I am procrastinating because the job is unpleasant or boring. You may feel that when you have a silly assignment or some paper work. To stop procrastination in this case:
a. Motivate yourself with something to make the job as pleasant as possible. For example, despite that the task may be boring; it may have a direct impact on your life goal. Sometimes, it may be the only way to achieve this goal (e.g. writing your thesis). Therefore, try to motivate yourself by writing the goal(s) of this task.
b. Promise yourself with a reward if you finish the task in a specific time farm.
c. Ask yourself what if I didn’t do this task?
d. Finally, the best way to get something unpleasant done is to get it over as quickly as possible.
2) I am perfectionist. Believe it or not most perfectionists are procrastinators. They always tell themselves I don’t have the right skills or the resources to do this task (e.g. you first speech in toastmasters) right now, I’ll delay it. In this case, do the following:
a. Ask yourself “Am I working on a plan to have these skills or I am just procrastinating in something unrelated to this task?”
b. Speak with others who did this task before and recognize that they weren’t perfect (maybe worse than you will be). However, it wasn’t that bad. At least they have done the task, and moved to something else.
c. Isn’t better to start the task now and finish it even with some mistakes rather than procrastinating and never do it?
3) I am procrastinating because I am overwhelmed with this task. It is too big or too complicated. In this case:
a. Break the task into small subtasks.
b. Put a time frame for each small subtask.
c. Start with the easiest and most straight subtasks. This will get you into the mode.
For example, if I am writing a research paper, I usually start by getting the style file and organizing my paper. This is followed by organizing my references and getting the complete citation. If I have the results ready in charts, I add these charts to the paper which gives me the feeling that I have 4 pages finished!! I am procrastinating but by doing subtasks inside my big task.
By the way, I remember that the first thing I wrote in my masters thesis was the acknowledgment J
Finally, you are not the only one who procrastinates but we all should work on reducing procrastination and getting our tasks done. Whether they are boring, big, and/or complicated, our tasks should be done in all cases. As we all know, the best way to do something is to begin. If we start, there is a chance to get the work done. However, if we keep procrastinating and putting the work off, the chance to get it done is zero 😦