- It is only 4 o'clock. I am not waiting until the evening to do this. I am doing it in a timely fashion.
- Yesterday I completely forgot about doing my blog until I was getting in bed. It's not that I was procrastinating. It just slipped my mind.
- Today marks the halfway point of this wretched experiment in self-discipline.
So where does my subject come from? Well, I spent the rest of the day finally getting around to writing two articles, which were assigned, oh . . . over a month ago. And this weekend, I finally got around to transcribing four of the interviews I taped for one of the articles, oh, a week and two ago.
I honestly thought these pieces were due last week—but this morning the editor reassured me that today is the deadline! You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got that good news.
So anyway, I've been doing a little bit of reading about procrastination and why some of us are so guilty of it, and I thought I'd share my findings. It's not pretty.
Here's a summary of points from a Psychology Today article:
- Twenty percent of people are procrastinators. It's a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one, and cuts across all domains of their life. [I may be in the 30th percentile, in that case: I don't procrastinate on everything.]
- It represents a profound problem of self-regulation, and it's exacerbated in American society by people's tolerance of excuses.
- It is not a problem of time management or planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, though they may be more optimistic than others.
- Procrastinators are made, not born. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. "Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances."
- Procrastination is a predictor of higher levels of consumption of alcohol.
- Procrastinators tell lies to themselves (like, "I work best under pressure") and squander their resources.
- Procrastinators are aces at distraction, especially ones that don't take a lot of commitment (like checking email).
- People procrastinate for different reasons. There are (a) arousal procrastinators or thrill-seekers, who are looking for a euphoric rush; (b) avoiders—whether avoiding success or failure—who are concerned with what others think of them; (c) decisional procrastinators, who can't make a decision.
- The costs of procrastination are large, e.g. health; and it shifts responsibility to others, creating resentment.
- Procrastinators can change their behavior, especially through cognitive behavioral therapy.
Forbes outlines seven strategies to fight procrastination (to which the gremlin on my shoulder says, "Quack, quack, quack," but they're really pretty good strategies):
- Write down your goal and give yourself a deadline.
- Break the goal into small pieces.
- Visualize the future you want—how you will feel having accomplished your goal.
- Build accountability.
- Reward progress.
- Act bravely, every day. Step out of your comfort zone; make a habit of it.