After my last column, 5 Ways to Use Your Time More Wisely , I had a few comments on the topic of procrastination, from friends who struggle with putting things off until the last minute. I, too, struggle with procrastination on occasion, in fact, I’d venture to say that procrastination is a bad habit that everyone gets into at least once in their life.
We each have our own reasons for putting things off, whether it’s in our personal or professional lives. Some people are afraid of failure, some people are easily distracted, some people don’t like dealing with “feelings”, and some people think they thrive under pressure.
The word procrastination itself first originated in the 1540s, from the Latin procrastinationem, “a putting off from day to day.” Procrastination is not a new habit; in fact, people have been putting things off since at least Biblical times. Ever notice how procrastination is referenced several times throughout the Bible? In Proverbs 3:28 “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’ – when you have it with you,” or Proverbs 20:4 “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing,” or even Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
Procrastination is something society has struggled with for ages.
There are several ways to eliminate procrastination from your lifestyle. Here are three ways to stop procrastinating:
- Give yourself a deadline. Even if it’s self-imposed, give yourself deadlines to complete projects. Hey, you may even want to share with your friends or family for the accountability factor. If you’re someone who “works better under pressure”, then a self-imposed deadline should really help get you going.
- Get over your fear of failure. If you’re procrastinating because you’re afraid that by attempting a task or project, or by confronting a feeling that you’re going to fail or face rejection, get over yourself. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” You’ll never know if you don’t try! There comes a time when you just have to accept uncertainties and give it your best shot. Also, wisdom from Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
- Go ahead and take the first step. Even if it’s a small step, getting started is one of the keys to combating procrastination. Sure, the project may seem impossible. So break it down into manageable tasks, so when you accomplish a little bit, you’ll be inspired to continue working.
If procrastination is a habit you’re trying to get out of, put it in perspective. Not only does procrastination affect your present, it can also have lasting implications on the rest of your life. Remember, “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Whatever you’re procrastinating and putting off, take a step and get started. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow!
Originally published as “3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating”. Minto Express. March 11, 2015: 5. Print.
 procrastination. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/procrastination (accessed: March 05, 2015).