Frozen. That’s how we feel when we have a daunting task in front of us. We know we need to do it, but we don’t know where or how to start. So we put it off. We’ll get to it tomorrow, right? Then tomorrow comes, and we feel just as frozen, and even more panicked because another day has passed with no results or action. Why do we act like this, and how do we break this cycle?
The first step is to learn a bit about procrastination. First off, realize you’re not alone. According to the Wall Street Journal, 20 percent of American adults consider themselves procrastinators. And even the do-it-now go-getters occasionally delay. There are many reasons people put things off.
- Perfectionism: Many procrastinators feel that if they can’t do something perfectly, then why bother. These thoughts will stall you out indefinitely because as hard as you try, you’ll never be perfect.
- Unpleasantness: Do you put off eating ice cream or reading your favorite magazine? Of course not. Those are pleasurable things. But writing that 50-page report, organizing your tax receipts, or cleaning out the garage? Those things can be unpleasant. Recognize that while some tasks are lousy, they must be done.
- Overwhelm: If your to-do list is ten pages long (or worse yet, not written down but cluttering your brain), it’s hard to figure out where to start. When the finish line is nowhere in sight, it’s often hard to find the beginning.
Now that you know why you put things off, you can learn how to manage your procrastinating ways.
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