THE MOTIVATION BEHIND OUR PROCRASTINATION
Why do we procrastinate? What is the motivation behind our procrastination? I do not label myself a procrastinator, but I will admit to putting a few things off here and there (like this blog post). Add to the list dentist appointments, cleaning the sliding glass doors, organizing family photos, the list goes on. Although many of these tasks are quite easy to accomplish, well maybe not the family photos since I need to rely on my scrapbooking skills, and I have years of family photos to organize! So why do I put off for tomorrow what I can accomplish today?Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Proverbs 6:4 (NIV) Click To Tweet
I spent some time in prayer, reflecting on this verse, and came up with a few reasons as to why we procrastinate such as avoidance, fear, indecisiveness, laziness, lack of motivation, over-commitment, and perfectionism.
It seems each of these reasons listed can be narrowed down to four motives for procrastination: avoidance, motivation, over-commitment, and perfectionism.
Why do we avoid certain tasks or situations? Is it that we believe the task may cause us pain or anxiety? Scheduling a dentist appointment is an easy task. So, if it’s so easy, why do I keep repeating the item on my To Do list week after week? What am I avoiding? Is it the time it will take to go to the dentist? Is it the cost? Or is it the possibility of a cavity?
I’ve found that when we ask the hard questions, we get down to the real reasons behind our procrastination. It also helps to write it out or talk it out, do whatever you need to do to get the thoughts out of your mind and into the light! Once you express your reasons for avoiding the task, you’ll create a more positive perspective on the situation. And, when we look at our task in the positive as opposed to negative we are much more apt to make things happen.
I find it interesting that the more we avoid, the more anxiety we build up because we are delaying the inevitable. The anxiety increases our fear, and our fear freezes us. So, do yourself a favor, schedule the appointment and check the task off your to-do list!
We need to be motivated to tackle the tasks or projects we put off. A lack of motivation can stem from a lack of interest in the task (cleaning the sliding glass doors) or a lack of reward (so the glass doors are clean, now what?).
How do we motivate ourselves to finish a task or project? Merriam Webster Dictionary defines motivation as the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something. So, what can you do to motivate yourself in finishing the task? Let’s focus on the task of cleaning the sliding glass doors. What motivator will assist me in completing this task? I could reward myself with a leisurely afternoon sitting outdoors enjoying the view with a good book and glass of ice tea. Or, I could reward myself by inviting a friend over to share the afternoon since I completed my task and I now have time available for my relationships.
For the purpose of motivating, schedule the reward before the task. This will motivate and encourage us to complete our task because we’ve established a deadline and a reward. Meeting my deadline will allow me to devote my time doing something I really enjoy such as spending my afternoon with a good friend. Tackling tasks with this mindset offers me a reward for my work. And, if you’re like me, when completing a task, checking off the task on my to-do list is sometimes reward enough. Being productive is gratifying to me!
When we overcommit we become so overwhelmed by everything we need to accomplish, we don’t know where to start, so we procrastinate. When we overcommit, our priorities are not established because everything on our list seems like a priority. We then become indecisive as to what to do so we do nothing.
My recommendation for the times we overcommit is to just start. I know this seems pretty basic, but it’s the best way to overcome overwhelm when we are overcommitted! Start with anything, take the first step. Make a list, prioritize the list or begin with the first three items on the list. Once you complete these projects, celebrate your success and move on to the next two or three tasks. Keep the momentum going – it’s the small steps that lead to success!
This is one of my major blocks to getting things done! It is said the only way to overcome procrastination is to let go of our need for perfectionism. Easier said than done!
Letting go of the thoughts that anything less than perfect is unacceptable is freeing. We become frozen by our need to be perfect and in the process, accomplish nothing. We think that if we study, read, research, and practice enough we will create the perfect blog post, webinar, bible study, etc. but if we never get started, we will never know the impact or influence because we are too focused on perfection.“Progress not Perfection.” Lara Casey Click To Tweet
We’ve all heard of perfection paralysis when our need for perfection stops us from making any progress. If we wait for the perfect time, we will never get started. At times like this when I catch myself procrastinating due to the need for perfection, I ask myself, “When is it good enough?” After some reflection, I realize that perfectionism truly is a dream killer. The decision to move forward is much simpler if we believe, trust, and take action.
“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NLT)
Seize the Day!
I encourage you to pray through your procrastination barriers. Spend time in prayer and reflection when planning your time. We are called to be good stewards, and this includes our time. Plus, the more you accomplish, the greater the satisfaction and increased confidence. Each step gets easier so keep moving forward! Jesus did not accept delays and excuses, and neither should we.
“No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” Luke 9:62 (MSG)
How do you overcome procrastination? If you have any additional motives as to why we procrastinate, please share in the comments below. Your comments are always welcome!