Have you ever noticed how creative we can be when we are looking for excuses to procrastinate? Did you know that you could transform your working life if you learned to channel that creativity and effort into productive pursuits?
I have some good news for you: it’s not a matter of ‘if’ you are in control because you absolutely are! The key here is that our excuses are not in charge of us, we are in charge of them. We don’t have to give ourselves reasons why procrastination is a good idea.
I have more good news for you. A positive outcome when we say no to procrastination is that we waste less time and in fact have more time to do purely enjoyable tasks. What’s more, we can relax without guilt! When you look at it that way, procrastination is, in fact, robbing us of guilt-free leisure time, so there is a big incentive to beat it. So let’s outsmart those deceiving, distracting voices by improving our understanding of common excuses.
Frequently Used Justifications Used By Procrastinators
Let’s explore some of the typical excuses we tell ourselves that open the door to procrastination.
#1 All of my tasks are as important as the others
When you have a flat hierarchy of priorities, checking your e-mail for the twentieth time this hour is as important as starting your annual report. In short, you have no hierarchy, and every imaginable to-do is battling equally for your attention – even the ones we know are just distractions and not valuable work.
#2 I’ve done some work, time to (over) reward myself
This excuse makes us lose our sense of perspective. While it’s perfectly reasonable to reward an hour’s work with a five-minute stretch and a glass of water, rewarding an hour’s work with an hour-long episode of our latest binge-worthy TV addiction is excessive. Remember: don’t lose your momentum by over-rewarding difficult tasks.
#3 If I just relax for a while, I’ll be more productive afterwards
This excuse is about a false economy as it actually leads to less productivity. Momentum is a powerful force when we’re talking about productivity. When we reward productivity with inactivity, we’re undoing the hard work that went into starting a task, which we know is often the hardest part. If you want to be more productive, keep going! Then relax properly and without guilt at the end of the day.
#4 You can’t force these things. If I do it when I don’t feel like doing it then I won’t produce my best work. I’ll do it tomorrow
There’s a myth that successful, productive people must somehow be perennially motivated. I’m sure there are some people out there that experience non-stop acceleration, but most of us feel like working more on some days than others. This is natural! However, we can’t just not work when we don’t feel like it. This is why I find that discipline beats motivation every time if I want to get work done. You can’t rely on motivation, but you can rely on discipline and routine. Don’t wait for a magical moment when your work will be perfect, instead, create a plan for producing regular work, and your best work will come.
#5 I’ve got plenty of time to do this. Besides, I work best under pressure
I feel nostalgic for my university days when I think about this excuse. How many all-nighters is it responsible for? However, it’s not just university students that are lured by the rush of doing 99% of a task the moment before it’s due. Not only is it not an efficient use of our time, but electing panic as our motivator is not healthy.
You Have Options
As I mentioned earlier, you are not at the whim of any of these excuses. You are actually in control, which is great news. I had one client, Darren, who became so bogged down in his procrastination that he was actually putting off completing a proposal that one of his clients had requested. After we explored the long-term ramifications, Darren placed the call, organised a meeting with the client, and developed a clear framework for the proposal. He was about to lose a $150,000 opportunity, but he has now submitted the proposal and is looking forward to commencing the project.
Procrastination: You Are Excused!
Have a think about your own procrastination habits, if you have any. Is tomorrow a productive day that never comes? Or do you rely on motivation rather than discipline or following a plan? Leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.