The holidays are over and many of us have set lofty goals. One of the most significant inhibitors to people reaching their goals has been the same for every generation. "There's not enough time in the day." This has been blamed on tasks to do around the house and technology, on family obligations and lengthening commutes, but no matter who you are or where you are from, we all have one thing in common - 24 hours in the day.
So what's the difference between people who get it all done and those always struggling to catch up? Has anyone figured out the magic behind a productive yet stress-free life? The truth is likely and simply, no. There's always going to be pressure to complete life's tasks, and unless you say no to so much that you feel like you lack a full and happy life, it's likely you will go through times of feeling overwhelmed. How do you take all that, the often positive aspect of having a full life, and manage it in a way leaving you less stressed and with more free time? Eliminate the unnecessary, and you can start with the procrastination.
First, let's start with the obvious. The definition of procrastination is not avoiding or escaping work; it is rather "delaying or postponing something." In other words, it's when we take the inevitable and put it further down the line of our chronological activity. It's the "This needs to get done, but I'm going to do it later" thoughts which occur so the time between now and then is time invested in procrastination, which has a very small payoff.
People who are always talking about how busy they are, how there's so much to do and those who are stressed are often not the busiest per say who's days are filled but are people who live much of their life delaying the inevitable.
Are you procrastinating on your CPA Exam Prep?
First off, let's be real about what procrastination is and is not. Procrastination is not doing laundry before homework because you need a break. The same laundry is, however, procrastination when the homework is due tomorrow, and you have two weeks worth of clean clothes. Procrastination is not making lunch before mowing the lawn as both of those things are inevitable, but Netflix before either of them is. Necessary activities are not procrastination, but the unnecessary are. If you struggle with feeling like you're procrastinating, make sure the tasks at hand fall into the nature of procrastination. If the activities are all necessary things which need to happen and will happen, this is not procrastination. If you find yourself with lists of things which need to get done and still some regularly go undone you are officially too busy and it's time to take a healthy look at eliminating some of them.
For 99% of the rest of us, we can help ourselves out by recognizing some problems we likely have.
Play to your strengths
A big reason procrastination happens is that we are fighting our natural work rhythm. You may be trying to become more of a morning person and still feel sluggish until filling your third cup of coffee at which time you notice it's mid-morning, or you want to stay up later to get work done and find yourself watching Netflix until it's just too late and you go to bed. You are simply battling your natural clock, the time your brain works best, and are less focused on tasks and more on getting into work mode. The fix here is to listen to your body and mind, then tap into those productive moments. Use the less productive times to complete easier or more menial tasks. Attack the necessary but less demanding tasks when you aren't bringing your A-game. Mix recreation and fun. Go for a run or bike on the treadmill while listening to an audiobook. Fold laundry and watch your favorite tv episode. Save the studying or extra work for the times you focus best. Be realistic and try your best to match your productivity with your personality at different times of the day.
Focus on what getting the work done will allow you to do
Another reason procrastination happens is that people subconsciously think "what's the point of doing it now?". Well, the point is stress and guilt-free activities later. Procrastination, as we stated earlier, is filling your time with non-essentially things when you have things which will eventually need to take place. Consider the classic reward system in which you give yourself a prize to work towards. If procrastination is okay and you are getting the work you need to do done but still feel discontent with this rhythm, try finding a hobby aimed towards self-betterment. Sign up for a half-marathon and go on a run when you get work done. Pick up an old activity you miss that brought happiness. Do something that makes you feel fulfilled rather than empty. These activities can help kick the lethargic feelings that lead to procrastination while also increasing self-esteem and helping you out holistically.
Put a fire underneath yourself before someone else does
Another reason to not procrastinate - people don't like it. Sure, you might not have a problem waiting until the last minute, but your co-worker who has to pick their kid up from school and is waiting for your report does. Causing undue stress among the office will draw unwanted attention. Soon you could find yourself out of someone's good graces or worse yet on the chopping block, all due to your last minute attitude. Instead, get to know your timeline and those around you. Use their motivations as a bit of your own. Doing things for others helps your happiness and work ethic. Hand the report over and let them know you're hoping it helps them have an easier day. You'll make someone else's day better, cause less stress for yourself, and have more time to focus on getting ahead in your professional or personal aspirations.
Eliminating procrastination is about ridding the pressures that make you believe you have no time for what you'd rather do. You may feel like you are policing your fun or relaxation, but monitoring how you are spending your time can lead to a healthier and happier life.