Let’s get this out of the way: we’ve all procrastinated before. You’ve sat yourself before your blinking white screen in the middle of the night, knowing that longtime essay is due the next day. Or you’ve found yourself buying tickets to that hit musical the night prior, only to find that the seats you’ve been assigned to are hypothetically located several miles away from each other. You’ve maybe even found yourself amongst the sad, sad group of last-minute holiday shoppers on Christmas Eve.
Procrastination can sometimes feel like an illness with no remedy. Truth is, if you’ve found yourself in this position often, you might have a problem on your hands. You’ve let down others with your lack of timeliness. And sometimes, you’ve let down yourself after days or even months of failing to complete a task. Maybe you’ve even gone so far as to ask yourself why you are this way? You’re definitely not alone.
Why do we procrastinate!?
According to Brandon Gaille, twenty percent of individuals identify as procrastinators and, perhaps even unsurprisingly, seventy percent of students indulge in this behaviour. At the same time, in 2018, evidence suggests perfectionism among students is consistently rising. The correlation between procrastination and perfectionism becomes obvious, and maybe even indicative of a greater problem at bay.
Young adults are feeling more pressure than ever to succeed, and the fear of failure has spawned negative habits like procrastination in our lives. Perfectionists tend to put off things they care about in order to ensure those tasks are completed to their fullest capacity, usually in the midst of their inspired work “flow.”
And it makes sense. Why complete something when you’re not in the best place to put your best foot forward? Why pour effort into something when you’re really not feeling it?
But we are not perfect beings. We are never going to match the expectations we hold for ourselves. We as procrastinators are never going to identify the most opportune time to complete a task if we are constantly waiting for permission. That voice in the back of your head that’s growing louder each minute that passes is trying to tell you that where your inactivity trails, unnecessary stress, anxiety and disappointment settles in like a weed.
The hard truth is that the only way to overcome procrastination is to push through it. If you aren’t in the best place to sit down and write, the way to encourage that “flow” is to start. In other words, create your work flow by getting your work done in baby steps, one word at a time. One decision at a time. And while that may seem like a tall order for some and impossible for others, the truth is that we need to train our minds to not wait for the “right time” anyways. Truthfully, the “right time” is nearly always now.
So the next time you find yourself unmotivated to do that holiday shopping, knock out just one of those gifts. Complete one chore. Write just one paragraph. Do just one workout. It is absolutely time to create a happier, healthier habit for yourself and the people around you. And who knows? Maybe that little voice in the back of your head will whisper a satisfied word of thanks, for once.