I posted a similar post to this on another blog of mine some time ago but recently someone asked me if I could write a post on procrastination for Cupcakes and Cadenzas too. As always, your wish is my command.
Hi, my name is Denise and I am a recovering, chronic procrastinator.
Do you procrastinate?
Is it something you do occasionally or do you consider yourself to have a bit of a problem?
Studies have shown that almost thirty percent of all adults are chronic procrastinators. 30%! That’s one in three of us. These are the people who will do almost anything other than the task that they’re supposed to be doing. Back in 1978 only 5% of the population admitted to being chronic procrastinators so clearly this is a problem on the rise.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of procrastination is: ‘the action of delaying or postponing something’. But there is much more to it than that. I think that Piers Steel’s definition in his paper ‘The Nature of Procrastination‘ is much more accurate.
“To procrastinate is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”
Procrastination as an Art
Opportunities to procrastinate are everywhere. Daytime television, housework, the telephone, the Kleeneze man coming to the door, the shopping, the dogs needing to be walked… Procrastination may be a problem on the increase but often we’re not even aware that we’re doing it. We find ourselves saying things like, “I’ll just get all the housework done and then I’ll be able to concentrate on my writing” or, “I’ve got so many things to do this week that I’ll get them all out the way and then get started properly on Monday” or, and this is definitely one of mine, “I’ll just tidy and clean my entire office before I get started and then I’ll be able to focus properly”.
All of these seemingly innocuous excuses are forms of procrastination. If you put off doing an important activity because you feel that by completing a lesser activity you will be able to do the important activity more justice, you’re procrastinating. Some time ago I wrote an article about the dark side of procrastination and believe me, it does have a dark side. Our reasons for procrastinating range from not really wanting to do the task in hand to a fear of failing and, in some cases, a fear of being too successful. If you look hard enough you can usually work out why you’re doing it. I’m a perfectionist and guess what! Perfectionism can be a form of procrastination. Next time you find yourself putting something off, look closely at your reasons for doing so. Is it because you really, truly believe that the kitchen floor needs washed right this minute or is there something deeper lurking there? You may be surprised.
Just before I finish, I cannot talk about procrastination without bringing up the Internet and, in particular, social media sites. How many of you say, “I’ll just check my *email/Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Stumbleupon/Pinterest account (*delete as appropriate) and then I’ll get started.”? I
used to do. These sites are fantastic tools for networking and meeting new and interesting people and also for promoting your business if you have one but, if you allow them to take over your day, nothing will get done.
So, next time you have a task to complete/start and you find yourself being compellingly drawn towards another less important task, ask yourself, “is this absolutely necessary or am I just procrastinating?”
I’ll leave you with a great video that I found on YouTube ages ago. Do you recognise yourself?