All of us procrastinate on occasion. For some people, it's a chronic problem; for others, it's only a problem in certain life areas. Procrastination is always frustrating because it results in wasted time, lost opportunities, disappointing work performance, and generally feeling bad about yourself.
When you procrastinate, you allow less important tasks to take up the time and space that should be devoted to more important things. You do things like hanging out with friends when you know that an important work project is due soon, or going shopping instead of doing your homework. It can also be evident in behavior such as talking about trivial things with your partner to avoid discussing important issues in your relationship.
There is no simple answer to why people procrastinate; there are many reasons why people put things off. Here are a few of the most common.
Remember the concept of inertia: a mass at rest tends to stay at rest. For some reason, it is more difficult for most humans to start change than to keep it going.
Since procrastination produces mostly negative outcomes, why don't we just change our behavior and eliminate these undesirable consequences? The reason for this is that procrastination reinforces itself. For some reason, it is more difficult for most humans to start change than to keep it going. We avoid getting started by cleverly diverting our attention from the things we really should be doing. We do something else instead or make up a story about how we will accomplish the task in the future-when we are inspired, or when we have completed a preliminary step, or some other trick.
Although recognizing how these diversions work won't automatically cure your procrastination, being aware of it is a good place to start working on the problem. Once you are aware of the ways that you procrastinate, you can start to change your behavior.
If procrastination is a problem for you, FIRSTCALL can help. Call 1.800.382.2377 to schedule an appointment.
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