Do you procrastinate? Be honest now, do you? You’re certainly not alone if you do. Real estate agents are known to be notorious procrastinators.
So, if you admit to procrastinating, how do you define the word “procrastination?” I define it as stalling, delaying, postponing, dragging my feet, avoiding what needs to be done when it needs to be done. But in looking up the “real” definition of procrastination, I was prompted to the Latin word “cras” as its root. “Cras” in Latin means “tomorrow.” That makes complete sense to me because when I procrastinate, I put off what I know I need to do today until tomorrow or the day after that…and tomorrow may be too late.
Turns out that the dictionary’s and my own definitions of procrastination are wrong. Procrastination is really defined as a massive waste of time. A 2015 survey by the Journal of Human Behavior reported that the average person loses more than 55 days a year by procrastinating! That’s 218 minutes a day times 365 days per year for a total of 79,570 minutes a year or 55.3 days a year.
This study also indicated that if you think you have the will power to stop procrastinating, you don’t. Why? The brain is wired for instant gratification. The brain goes for “present” rewards, not rewards or benefits you may get in the future. So forget about will power. Try some of these tips instead to help counteract the reasons we procrastinate.
- We’re perfectionists. We want every thing we have and do to be perfect. We pay too much attention to minor details, we get stuck in the process, we’re afraid we won’t get every single thing “right” so we don’t even start. Instead, be clear about what “it” is, the purpose of “it” and the tasks required to get “it” done. Then do those smaller tasks, one at a time, until the “it,” the “big it” you are doing is done.
- We’re dreamers. We like to create an ideal plan more than we like taking action. Instead, let’s get our creative feet on the ground and focus on SMART goals. Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely goals. Forget all others as they have nothing to do with being creative.
- We’re avoiders. We think it’s better to do nothing than it is to make mistakes. We worry about making mistakes. Instead, focus on doing the hardest, most challenging, the worst task first. Once you accomplish that task (and correct all the mistakes you’ll likely make along the way), you’ll have an amazing sense of achievement and you’ll be confident enough to know that you can do all the “easier,” “less challenging” tasks involved in doing what needs to be done.
- We’re crisis makers. We delay doing the work to the very last minute because we think we’re at our best when time’s running out. Not so. We all need time to review our work to make that work be the best it can be. Instead, focus on working in short, intense bursts and giving yourself a bit of a break in between those short work bursts. Try 20 minutes for a work burst followed by a 5 minute break. Use a timer.
- We’re “busy” procrastinators. We have trouble prioritizing tasks because we have too many of them. Instead of being frustrated, overwhelmed and throwing up your hands not doing anything, get your priorities straight. There’s a difference between important and urgent. Important is something that adds value in the long run. Urgent is often just frantic.