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Avoid procrastination — procrastinate less, do more

Avoid procrastination

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First of all, it should be said that procrastinating is completely normal. We all do it. Some more, some less. But we've all postponed a meeting, barely met a deadline and asked ourselves: “Why did I wait so long to start the task?”

However, too much procrastination is not a good thing. Because uncontrolled procrastination can ultimately have a negative impact on mental health and cause a lot of stress due to unfinished projects and work backlogs. This applies in particular to female entrepreneurs and prospective founders whose economic success depends heavily on their ability to motivate themselves and often also on their ability to avoid procrastination. The fight against procrastination is a question of acceptance, understanding and, above all, a personal approach.

What is procrastination anyway?

Procrastination generally means putting off a task until shortly before or even after the due date, even though you would actually have enough time and know exactly that this will put you in a stressful situation later on.

A distinction is made between normal and chronic procrastination.


Normal procrastination

We speak of normal procrastination when we find a task difficult or annoying or because we don't know how to start. We're hesitating because we think we'll have plenty of time later and that this task isn't urgent yet. Sometimes we simply wait for a suitable time to implement this task, even though we know inside that it will never come and we are not doing ourselves any favors.


Chronic procrastination

Chronic procrastination occurs when regular procrastination becomes more and more frequent, slowly gets out of hand and has a negative impact on work, mental health and perhaps even on leisure and social contacts. When procrastinating has progressed this far, it is high time to address the problem and look for the causes.


Why do we procrastinate?

In certain cases, procrastination is based on a serious mental illness. In the following section, we focus exclusively on the external factors of procrastination, which we can actively influence through behavioral changes.


Unrealistic goals

Entrepreneurs or founders in particular can set themselves goals before they have even considered how they can achieve them. If these goals are too ambitious — for example, an unrealistically high turnover in the first financial year — this can mean that the tasks associated with achieving these goals are constantly postponed.

Deadlines far in the future

If an appointment is far in the future, it can help you get something done at your own pace and without stress, but it can just as easily result in the little voice in the back of your head constantly knocking on and telling you that you still have soooo long time to do it and that it's not even that urgent now. Many people become most productive when they feel pressure. And far-off deadlines don't offer that. It can therefore be helpful to put yourself under a bit of pressure, for example by setting your own deadlines promptly.

Past and future ego

“I'll do that tomorrow,” have you ever said that to yourself? Ok, admittedly, this solution is very satisfactory for the moment and, above all, extremely fast. But, the future ego is usually not very enthusiastic about it. In particular, we like to postpone administrative and administrative work and leave it to our future self to do it. But why do we have the feeling that we will be more interested in these annoying tasks in the future?
So remember: What you can buy today, don't postpone it until tomorrow.


Afraid of making decisions

So-called “decision phobia” refers to the fear of making decisions. Or rather, the fear of making the wrong decisions. But not everyone who shies away from making decisions suffers from this phobia. Decision-making phobia is particularly dangerous for entrepreneurs. Because anyone who manages a company in particular has to make decisions almost every day. Failure to make these decisions can hinder growth or slow down the work of other stakeholders.

perfectionism

From an early age, we are all encouraged to do our best in every task that is given to us. The problem with this advice, however, is that it can manifest as a message about perfection—that if we don't give 100%, it isn't good enough. Artists and creative people often suffer from perfectionism, which can even prevent them from showing their work to others. Perfectionists procrastinate by constantly making corrections, changes, or additions to finished work.

fear of failure

Similar to perfectionism, fear of failure is an extreme form of procrastination, which often results in something not even being started. The procrastinator, who is afraid of failure, focuses on imaginary disastrous consequences rather than on the task they have to complete. Suddenly, the first small step is an entire staircase that leads into emptiness.

Overcome procrastination

As different as the reasons for procrastination are, so are the solutions to overcome them. We've put together a few techniques and tips on how tasks can be completed faster in the future.

1) Understanding procrastination

First, you should be aware of what type of procrastination you are. Because only those who know why he or she regularly postpone pending tasks can also develop tactics to combat them.

2) Build self-confidence

Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage. Even the most cocky active procrastinator makes things difficult for himself and sabotages himself, which likely points to deeper self-confidence issues. In a presentation to the American Psychological Association, Dr. Ferrari explained that non-procrastinators, i.e. people who don't procrastinate to the extent that it affects their lives, have a “stronger personal identity” and don't care what others think of them. Of course, building self-confidence is not a task that can be completed overnight. But a good start would be to set yourself small tasks, complete them, and then praise yourself for them. This is how you create many small experiences of success for yourself.

3) All or nothing

The all-or-nothing approach can be found primarily in diet and sports blogs. Dieticians and sports columnists encourage their readers to abandon the all-or-nothing approach to dieting and exercise because rigid calorie and exercise plans put too much pressure on us. We are people and we give in to temptation regularly. We shouldn't punish ourselves for that. The same applies to the fight against procrastination. Because if you present yourself with the choice: “all or nothing,” you will probably do “nothing” rather than “everything.”

4) The Pomodoro Technique

Francesco Cirillo's Pomodoro Technique remains a popular time management technique since Cirillo invented it as a student in the 1980s. Using a tomato-shaped stopwatch (hence the name “Pomodoro”, Italian for tomato), Cirillo set intervals of 25 minutes, during which he worked without interruption and which he alternated with short breaks. The technique consists of six steps:

1. Decide on a task you want to complete

2. Set the timer

3. Work on the task

4. When the Pomodoro timer rings, stop working and take a short break (~5 minutes)

5. Return to step two until three Pomodoros are completed

6. After the three Pomodoros, take a fourth, longer break (~25 minutes), then return to step two.

This technique works because it adds some urgency to the task through the use of a timer. But that sense of urgency isn't stressful because there's no pressure from outside — just your own determination to work for the duration of each interval.

5) Avoid distractions

We live in a world of endless distractions, and the biggest of those distractions are our phones, which we carry with us at all times of the day. An easy way to minimize distractions is to keep your phone out of range when using the Pomodoro technique described above.

6) Daily planning

Precise daily planning helps to avoid procrastination. It's best to write down a schedule for the coming week in which you set yourself several small goals for each day. This allows you to celebrate successful experiences with little effort and waste less time thinking about which task needs to be completed now.

Findings

  • Procrastination can be normal or chronic.
  • There are many reasons why we put things off. When we understand every single reason, we can better assess and combat procrastination.
  • There are several useful techniques to prevent procrastination.
  • Despite these techniques, there is no quick solution to procrastination. It is an ongoing process.

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