Not all delays are procrastination. Distinguish times you procrastinate from times you stall for helpful reasons such as incubation or prioritizing.
- 20% of the population frequently procrastinates, regardless of culture, gender, career, education, age, or marital status. That's one in five humans that find themselves stalling daily. So if you're a procrastinator, you're not alone, but this is not a club you want to be a member of. But let's make sure you're really procrastinating. A few behaviors are commonly confused with procrastination but are actually quite different. Prioritizing may appear to be the same thing as procrastinating but is actually a very healthy habit.
Let's face it, in today's hectic and harried work world, there are frequently days when we can't possibly get through everything we want to get through. If you had a 50 things on your to-do list kind of day and you got through 30 of them that were the top priorities but the 20 lesser priorities didn't get done, that does not mean you're a procrastinator. You're a prioritizer, perhaps in an office that needs more hands. There are also times when we should delay an action.
Maybe you need to make a decision but you don't have enough data yet, or helpful resources and reinforcements are on the way. It sometimes makes sense to delay. We sometimes need think time. Our best ideas usually come after some incubation time. If you're actively pondering on an idea and you aren't pushing the deadline back, I wouldn't consider that procrastination. Maybe you're just too tired or grouchy to initiate that sensitive conversation, or the timing isn't right for the other person.
If circumstances are about to change, it might be a great time to wait. I need new living room curtains, but until the painters have finished, it makes no sense to buy them. That's a logical stall. Make a list of tasks that you've been putting off. Maybe you've written them on the to-do list day after day or thought of them multiple times but they're still not done. Scratch off that list any items that were lower priorities than things you have been doing.
Scratch off items on your list that have a good logical reason for delay. Now, the items that are left, true procrastination. But don't fear, there are proven methods to find your way out of the dreaded procrastination zone.
- Differentiate between unhealthy procrastination and purposeful "stalling" behaviors.
- Recognize the verbal and behavioral signals of procrastination onset.
- Recognize the five primary reasons why people procrastinate.
- Explain the "pawn it" strategy for overcoming procrastination.
- Select appropriate strategies for overcoming procrastination, dependent on the unique motivator.