Okay, how many of us are guilty of this?
1. Shopping online when you have a presentation to make?
2. Desktop browsing travel sites instead of getting a report done?
3. Lolling in front of the TV instead of doing that daily workout?
Chances are, you’ve done all three.
Procrastinating or putting things off can be detrimental to our daily lives and is described as the number one enemy of progress. The good news? If you’re guilty of it, you’re mot alone. Delaying tasks at hand is a universal syndrome and one that most people do most of the time.
Why do people look for distractions?
For different people, the justification to escape work varies. Says advertising manager Rishabh Mehta, “Most often when I know that I have something important to do like calling a client, it starts to bore me and I automatically begin to think of excuses to tell him why I haven’t called instead of just doing so. It’s just a feeling of dread to face the task which makes me feel like doing anything else, even taking a walk, instead.” Adds student Samina Parkar, “I recently took a gym membership, but each day, I was finding more reasons that came in the way of heading there — from friends to my work. I realised it was just the trepidation of working hard there that was putting me off.” Knowing our action will require certain effort and cause some pain are also the reasons why we put things off and thus go back into our comfort zones, state psychologists.
Expert’s warning: Don’t use the ‘snooze button’ all the time
Constantly being in the ‘I don’t feel like doing this now’ mode can lead to a unhappier you. People who continually put things off are unhappier, as well as less wealthy and healthy in comparison to those who get things done promptly. We might kid ourselves that leaving things to the last minute means we’ll do a better job because of the added pressure, but studies have shown that procrastinators are more likely to make mistakes. Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria says this is not so much a time management issue as it is about having a maladaptive lifestyle. “We are sometimes ill-prepared owing to a bad sleep schedule, which in turn causes a lack of focus. Procrastinators are also constantly living in thought rather than action. This over-thinking leaves them anxious and fatigued. We have to stop hitting the snooze button to give us time and delay things,” she adds.
Top signs that you’re a habitual offender
– You spend too much time chatting with pals or near the office vending machine.
– You simply go through work mails without really doing anything about them.
– You have a high-priority task at hand, but immediately go for a coffee break.
– You delegate all tasks into the ‘future’ instead of the ‘present’.
– You let your mood dictate when crucial tasks need to get done.
55 days lost
A survey of 2,000 adults revealed that we spend on an average, 218 minutes procrastinating every day, which equals 55 days of lost time year.
In your genes?
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that a tendency to procrastinate may have its roots in genetic factors and that impulsivity is also genetically linked.
5 strategies to become more more time-efficient
Reward yourself: This is the best motivator. Buy yourself a doughnut or a slice of cake if you have completed your tasks for the day.
Try peer pressure: Getting a colleague to check up on you is another good idea. When you have someone to answer to, it helps.
Make a to-do list: That won’t allow you to escape looking at what you must do. Plus, proritisation eases pressure.
Break it down: Put the major goal into smaller tasks, which will make it more manageable. It will also feel good to tick off each item as you go along.
Write out the consequences: Pen down why it will be unpleasant not to complete what you have at hand. For instance, write ‘weekend will get the overload’ or ‘I’ll have to stay back and miss my TV show’; it’s effective.
Use technology right: In an interview to the American Psychological Association, Joseph Ferrari, who has authored books on the subject, says, “Today’s technology can help us not procrastinate if we use it wisely. We don’t have to surf the web for hours on irrelevant tasks. Use technology as a tool, not as a means of delay.”