I’ve put things off until the last minute for a long time. It’s become a cross I’d rather not bear.
Yes, we sure do. I’m glad you wrote. Your question signals that the cons of procrastination outweigh the pros for you these days, so it’s a good time to switch up some of your approach to life.
Let’s not label your habit as “bad” because using time that way does work for some people.
For those who embrace risk and crave excitement, pressure to perform in the eleventh hour is a natural high. Is that you? If so, you could instead find some new rewards to replace the rush of racing to finish. Procrastination is tough to alter if it brings success. Pull an all-nighter and score an A on the exam? It solidifies your process. Write a presentation the night before, then knock ‘em dead, and you increase the likelihood of trying to repeat a similar performance.
Just about everyone procrastinates when faced with unpleasant or difficult tasks. Sometimes we’re putting off starting because we’re unsure how to begin. We might fear failure or be stuck in perfectionistic thinking. When we lack interest in a project or aren’t happy that a task is assigned to us, we find other less-pressing things to do with our time.
It helps me when I remind myself that I get to choose: begin the task or regret not doing so. For example, I love to facilitate 1:1 coaching meetings in person or by video. The less fun part (at least sometimes) is writing the resulting client goal plan, which means turning pages of my notes into a cohesive one-page document to guide their next steps. I often set a timer and get at least 30 minutes of momentum going. It really helps.
Personality differences can affect how we manage time. Many optimistic thinkers try to achieve more in shorter periods of time than pessimists (or “realists”, as they often prefer to be called). This strikes a chord with me. Does it with you? Underestimating how long tasks will take and neglecting to plan for the unexpected is literally risky business.
Here’s my suggestion. Do some reflective writing today. What undesirable outcomes result when you put things off? How does this habit negatively affect you and others? What benefits might come from starting – and finishing – earlier? Could you take a small first step toward a task you haven’t wanted to yet, and do so today?
Another option: List your roles and describe briefly how you want to be remembered in each.
What behaviors line up with those definitions?
Time is an incredible, unrepeatable gift. Each of us has 168 hours per week to use to our best
ability. Small changes in behavior can net really big results, which is exactly what I wish for you.
Best wishes, and please stay in touch.