Procrastinator: A person who postpones or avoids work, organizing, cleaning or other activities that will help them accomplish their life goals.
95 per cent of us procrastinate. I’m not sure about the other five per cent. Are they living a life of denial?
The main reason we continue this debilitating habit is because there are no immediate consequences to our behaviour. They come later in life when we experience a lack of education, money problems, unfulfilled relationships and health challenges that all could be related to procrastination.
Procrastination is closely related to disorganization, another layer of the challenges we face. Some procrastinate on filing taxes or writing a report. Others postpone organizing and cleaning or starting their own business. Some of us dislike yard work or exercising.
So, if you’ve ever criticized yourself about not doing what you’re supposed to do, you’re not alone; you have plenty of company, including me.
Yet, we all have different reasons for avoiding things we don’t like to do or have no skills for. It grows from a few different foundational problems.
Let’s start with the first one: The Wishful Thinker.
One of the most common reasons for procrastinating is wishing for something good to happen but putting no effort to achieve it. This type of procrastinator sets big and brave goals without any thought as to whether they’re reasonable or measurable. They just scribble down New Year’s resolutions on napkins and pray some magical power will make them true.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking and doing doesn’t work; it backfires on us every time. The most common mistake this type of procrastinator makes is setting unclear goals. Unclear goals are easy to set up but difficult to maintain.
To achieve your goals, you have to write them down, commit to them and include the date when you’re going to achieve them.
Here are some unclear goals: I’d like to lose weight. I would like to get organized one day. I’d love to start a business.
We don’t know how much weight we want to lose, when and where to start organizing or how to go about starting the business. Not being specific and committed leaves an open-door policy for procrastination.
If you have any of the challenges above, better planning is required. I love this quote by Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Here’s a simple formula you can use for setting a goal you’re serious about achieving:
Focus on the result
Imagine yourself having achieved the goal already and ask yourself what it looks like. Make it visual, as if you were seeing it on a movie screen.
Create your plan
If the goal is about knowing your dream, the plan is about action steps that will take you there. Create a list of three action steps that you have to do next. Schedule time to work on them, preferably at the same time every day to start a healthy habit.
Set a clear deadline
Use the kitchen timer and start the process in portions of 15 minutes.
Reward yourself, you deserve it.
Stay tuned for parts including The Last-Minute Racer, The Particular Perfectionist, The Productive Procrastinator and The Thrill Seeker.
Ranka Burzan owns a professional organizing company based in Powell River and has written several books on reducing clutter and becoming more organized. For information, go to solutionsorganizing.com.