Procrastination has been a hit on the web lately. After a huge wave of all kinds of blog posts, articles and youtube videos on the topic, practically everybody started considering themselves to be a ‘procrastinator.’ Still, checking the Facebook page at work won’t make you a mess. Delaying a hard task to be done later might be ok, just because sometimes we need to think it over and find the best solution for it.
So, what does it mean to be a true procrastinator? Let’s start with brief research of a term.
Merriam-Webster dictionary offers us to understand procrastination as:
to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.
Sounds way too broad, right?
Another definition attempt tells us that procrastination is
to put off intentionally and habitually
Well, this seems to be a bit closer to the reality. Still, putting off and delaying stuff can have loads of reasonable causes behind. Also, the delay might have no visible consequences. For example, you have to perform 3 different tasks during the day. Thus you first take the easiest task; then you move on to the second task, which seems to be a bit harder. The third task seems to be the hardest for you. Thus you take a break, watch some random youtube videos or scroll down the Facebook, listen to the music, etc. After that, you start doing the hard task last, manage to finish it that day, but late in the evening, while you planned for it to be done until noon. Would it automatically make you a procrastinator?
Probably, no. As you still manage to finish work before the deadline, not put all your living energy (if not extra) in it and submit not in the very last moment, you most probably are not a procrastinator at all. Sometimes delaying a hard task is more than rational. If you need more knowledge, additional details or a simple rest, you are not a mess. It means you evaluated the situation rationally and decided that a put off would be somehow helpful.
What a procrastinator does won’t fit in that scheme. A standard procrastinator perfectly knows how to do the work, has a plan and knows how long it would take to do it properly. Still, when there is the right time to get some work done, procrastinator’s mind somehow changes the focus from ‘work to do’ to the mysterious place, which Tim Urban called ‘a dark playground.’ It is dark only because all the ‘fun’ activities you do there are completely unearned, and whatever you do won’t bring you joy, happiness, and relaxation. Why this happens is a completely another talk no procrastinator would want to hear.
Another interesting question is, what defines a procrastinator? I think we have found several completely relevant signs. So, let’s list and discuss them briefly.
#1. You are great at planning work, but you never stick to that plan
Making a plan is what each procrastinator loves. Usually it is very decent, rational and includes all the stages needed for the work to be done. Still, when it comes to work itself, the magic doesn’t happen. Things change, time seems to be inappropriate, some other stuff is more important than work, etc. So the plan is constantly revised until the very last moment, when you already have no choice, except of doing work asap.
#2. Any activity is always better than work
Each time you ‘want’ to start working on something you have to be doing, you suddenly find thousands of activities you have to perform right now. They might be not pleasant at all, but they seem way better than the work you planned to do. So, you might start cleaning, washing, organizing your room, because you cannot work in a mess. Or you go reading Wikipedia and checking the grammar in there, for it is important to make people literate! Also, you might start reading a book, you wanted to start years ago and now seems to be the perfect time for it. Thus, any possible activity seems to be more important right now, than actual work. Especially when you have ‘so much time’ before the deadline.
#3. You rarely meet deadlines
If your employer sets a deadline for you, but always keeps in mind few additional days for it, that’s a wakeup call. It could only happen if you always start doing your work too late to finish it properly, and you either require few more days to finish it or the work always gets rejected due to the fix needed. So, your employer is that used to it, he always keeps few more days in mind, when giving you a task to do.
#4. You are smart
Yeah, that’s the point. You’re smart, so most probably you know, that the work is not worth that much effort and therefore you start only when there is practically no time left. Or, you are smart, and you know you don’t need that much time to complete the task, so you make a delay. This list can be endless, but still, loads of studies confirm it. Procrastinators are usually very smart.
#5. You feel furious when somebody asks you about your work
The reason behind that is often because you didn’t even start working on the task, thus each reminder of what you should be doing makes you angry. Also, we remember, you are good in planning stuff, so at the point when someone asks how it is going, there should be a decent amount of work done already. Usually, though, if you didn’t even start, you most probably have nothing to answer. You don’t have the questions to ask, no progress to show. Thus you might feel furious and tell everybody that is none of their business, even if it is.
#6. Your work has to be perfect
Perfectionism is another bad habit of a true procrastinator. You may spend too much time considering the unimportant details even before you start working. In the end of the day you rush to complete the work in the last moment and you fail to add all those perfect details you were overthinking that much. Thus, you usually are filled with the self hatred and guilt and you always promise yourself to start earlier next time, so you will have more time and eventually complete your work properly.
Procrastination might become a nightmare. Especially when you are willing to be successful in your studies, plan a great career and don’t want to let people down. Fighting this bad habit also might become hard, especially if you don’t know how to start. Thus you try to Google for thousands of ‘How to fight procrastination’ articles instead of… doing the work you planned. If that sounds familiar, do not get upset. Each question has its answer, and each issue has a way out. It depends only on how hard you will try to find them.
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