Why Do We Procrastinate?
“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” – Jerome K. Jerome
Why do we procrastinate and what can we do about it? Procrastination is a subtle and insidious thing. It can hold you back from who you were born to be.
Procrastination can lead to painful outcomes like not preparing adequately for exams and interviews, not paying bills on time, and not finishing project tasks on time.
The good news is, the more you understand about procrastination, the better armed you are to defeat it. Knowledge and know-how are a powerful thing. The answer to procrastination is surprisingly simple: Work on things for “Just a few minutes.”
In the book, 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Richard Wiseman writes about the why we procrastinate and what we can do about it.
7 Reasons Why We Procrastinate
According to Wiseman, here are a few of the key reasons why we procrastinate:
- A Tendency to see projects as a whole, rather than breaking them down into smaller parts.
- Being prone to boredom.
- Fear of failure.
- Inability to estimate how long it takes to do things
- Low levels of self-control.
- The feeling that life is too short to worry about seemingly unimportant tasks
Work on Things for “Just a Few Minutes”
Is there a solution to the problem of procrastination? The closest thing we may have to a silver bullet is to leverage the Zeigarnik Effect. The Ziegarnik Effect says our brains hold on to unfinished tasks. In other words, we like to finish what we start. Here is what Wiseman has to say, about the research:
“Procrastinators frequently put off starting certain activities because they are overwhelmed by the size of the job in front of them. However, if they can be persuaded, or can persuade themselves, to work on the activity for ‘just a few minutes,’ they often feel an urge to see it through to completion. Research shows that the ‘just a few minutes’ rule is a highly effective way of beating procrastination and could help people finish the most arduous of tasks. It is also a perfect application of Zeigarnik’s work – those few minutes of initial activity create an anxious brain that refuses to rest until the job is finished.”
What can you work on for “just a few minutes” that might change your life?
Best Books on Motivation and Procrastination
- 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, by Richard Wiseman
- 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever, by Steve Chandler
- Time Warrior: How to defeat procrastination, people-pleasing, self-doubt, over-commitment, broken promises and chaos, by Steve Chandler
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