The Solution to Procrastination
What do horror movies and procrastination have in common? Meeting a monster is just a matter of time. There’s only one thing worse than watching procrastinators risk their educational or professional performance.
That’s being the procrastinator who knows exactly what they are doing to themselves. Putting off studying for a test, writing a report, or preparing for a meeting is a significant cause of stress. Procrastination turns tasks into the stuff of nightmares.
Some procrastinators claim they need the additional pressure to perform. Others claim to enjoy the game of getting an essential job done just in time. For most of us, procrastination just means prolonging the unpleasantness of hard work and flavoring it with dread.
Procrastination takes three major forms:
1. fear of failing at the task
2. anxiety about the outcome of completing the task, or
3. a serious aversion to the task itself
Some people procrastinate occasionally while others experience a more chronic need to procrastinate.
Sometimes, there is good reason to procrastinate. If you don’t rush to see a doctor about that rash on your foot, it might just go away. If you don’t clean your room, your mother might put on her hazmat suit and do it for you out of her own frustration. If you don’t write the report, your boss might cancel it and demand you complete another task instead. If you don’t study for the test that will determine whether or not you can enter university, you might just win the lottery and not have to worry about qualifying to make a career. Obviously, some of the payoffs of procrastinating are more likely to happen than others.
Mostly, procrastination has a domino effect. Falling behind on one task causes us to fall behind on 15 others. The procrastination habits of one member of a team can damage the productivity and workflow of an entire company. The stress associated with procrastination can also lead to lost sleep, an inability to relax and a worsening of the fear and anxiety that cause procrastination in the first place.
That does not mean bad procrastination habits cannot be broken! One solution is called eating the frog. The book Eat That Frog! 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by author Brian Tracy explains the concept:
“Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”
To eat the frog and prevent procrastination, you take care of the biggest and most unpleasant task first thing in the morning. By taking care of the unpleasantness early in the day, you free up the rest of your time to do tasks that make you happier. It prevents the frog from growing into the huge monster that threatens your job or academic future.
What if you have two frogs? Eat the uglier one first. Once you’ve swallowed it, start on its less ugly companion. Obviously, the technique takes discipline, but doing the worst tasks first leads to less stressful, most productive day. As a result, you’ll enjoy your time off more and sleep better, and be on your way to living a more productive life.