I used to think procrastination is only when you choose to do nothing, but I have learned it is also when you choose to do other things above the more important things you should do. I recently got sent a £100 fine for my procrastination (which I am appealing).
I was supposed to do a self-assessment tax return for the 2018-2019 year, but I was only made aware of this in 2020. Due to procrastination, even then I kept putting it off; as I had never been asked to do one before. I did not understand why I must do one now. It got me thinking about how dangerous procrastination can be, financially, physically, and economically.
The UK has officially had the most deaths in Europe from this pandemic and the most severe levels of recession in the world. Even the Queen will not be returning to her Buckingham Palace in order to avoid London. Experts suggest if it was not for our leader’s procrastination, we would not be in this situation now. GDP is down by more than 20%, whereas Germany is only down 11.9% and the US only at 10.6%. The UK has had two consecutive negative quarters (accounting reports).
The economy had dropped 2.2% in the first 3 months and is now smaller than the 2003 accounting records. Our public limited companies, shrunk by 20.4%, which is the steepest fall in modern history. Record amounts of falls in construction, services, and production. Germany and US economic recovery are said to be going well even with the Democrat versus Republican political debates. In Boris’s defence, he was trying to keep the economy running for as long as possible; but this has backfired. Other countries went into lock-down quicker, reduced lock-down restrictions quicker, and are now recovering quicker. They were not affected as much as the UK has been affected. Procrastination is literally deadly.
Recent studies have even shown how procrastination can bring on mental illness triggers; anxiety, sleep deprivation, mental exhaustion; which can then lead to further concerns. If you are no longer able to be working to your best ability, you might lose confidence due to under-performing on tasks, or missing tasks and deadlines; which then can affect your family relationships, and career progression.
Therefore, being organised and having good time management is essential. Sometimes, we can be overwhelmed by our to-do lists and this is why: –
Step 1 – Is to make better to-do lists (click here for last week’s post on making better to-do list.)
Step 2 – Is to think like a mathematician, break the problem down into smaller chunks. For example, many people if told to do an hour of exercise could be put off by thinking about the duration. However, when you go to an exercise class and the coach says to do 2 minutes of star jumps, and pause, then 2 minutes of high knees, then pause, and before you know it, you have completed an hour of exercise. This is why, step 2 is fooling your brain, with the 2-minute rule. Don’t tell yourself you need to do an hour of work from your to-do list. Break that item into small pieces and tell yourself you are going to do the first piece, 2 minutes worth.
Step 3 – Teamwork makes the dream work, make yourself accountable, and find someone that you can share your to-do list with, so you become more motivated to complete your tasks, especially someone who will check you have completed the task.
Step 4 – Start with the more difficult task, the task you have been avoiding, this is the task that needs to be broken down using the 2-minute rule.
Step 5 – Move all distractions. Even your to-do list if it will distract you from focusing on one task. I read that multi-tasking is a myth. You can only really focus on one thing.
Step 6 – Go back to school days, we used to have period 1 was maths, period 2 was English etc. and this did not change regardless of how we felt, unless you procrastinated and skipped class. Therefore, set yourself up with dedicated time to be able to complete your tasks, use an alarm clock and notifications if you need to, until this routine becomes your new norm.
Step 7 – Take a break with bigger tasks as procrastination is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it gives your mind time to really draw new ideas that are needed, in order to complete the task, more efficiently, and wisely. Sometimes, it is very good to take a break, and work on something else. Reward yourself with a nice break, you have now fought against procrastination and won!
If you find yourself procrastinating, there are also various studies that suggest there are 4 types of procrastinators. Now which one are you? Are you (or were you): –
1) The performing procrastinator, that thinks they work better under pressure. If so just getting started is the challenge for you. The business insider suggests, just set a start date, focus on starting not when you will finish.
2) The negative speaking deprecator procrastinator, always belittling yourself, and blaming laziness, or saying you don’t have time to rest for why you are not doing things; when the truth is you’re tired. If so, taking a break is your challenge. The business insider suggests, taking a walk and recharging is your solution.
3) The overbooked and overwhelmed procrastinator, with their, ‘I’m so busy’ excuse for not getting the work done. If so, creating more and more work, to avoid what you really need to face, is your challenge. The business insider suggests, to reflect and ask yourself, what you are really avoiding is your solution.
4) The creative thinking procrastinator, always having flashes of inspiration, and coming up with new ideas; then getting bored of them quickly. If so, completion is your challenge. The business insider suggests, to write new ideas down, but do not start them, until the current idea is complete!