Procrastination is an inefficient way to handle your life because you are essentially borrowing against time in the future when tasks will eventually have to be handled.
In addition, putting something off until a later date can have negative consequences. For example, waiting until the last minute to pay off a debt that doesn't arrive at the debtor on time can result in a late fee. Or, not having your car tuned up in time can lead to a breakdown.
When You Are Not Procrastinating
At one time or another, tasks may be put off until a later date for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with procrastination.
To manage our lives, it's important to prioritize items of importance, meaning that some items will need to be handled at a later date.
Also, sometimes it's necessary to put things off because something more important needs attention in the present, or because waiting could actually lead to a better outcome. However, if you are a habitual procrastinator, especially about specific tasks, you need to consider the cause.
When You Are Procrastinating
If you routinely put things off until later, you will probably discover that it's for an emotional reason rather than just plain laziness.
If you dislike talking to a particular client because a five-minute phone call becomes a 30-minute call, you may choose to delay returning it. Instead, call after hours and leave a message or email your response. This may not resolve the issue (at some point, you will still have to talk to the client), but it does buy you more time, as the client will need to return your call if they need more information.
Many people put things off because they resent having to do them, especially if they should be someone else's responsibility. Delaying a task won't get it finished and will only add to your frustration. You have two choices: You can opt to do it yourself to get it finished or you can pass it on to someone else.
In the work world, you may be asked to perform tasks that seem unfair or outside of your job description. Let go of any resentment and do whatever is asked in a timely manner. Delaying tasks until a later date will only hurt your career.
If you are unhappy in your current position and are seeking another job, continue to do what is required in an efficient, timely manner. If you put things off because you are unhappy, you can end up on probation, getting demoted, or even let go.
How to Avoid Procrastination
These guidelines can help you handle tasks efficiently:
- Plan your day along with the tasks that need to be completed.
- Set small goals and check off those that you've accomplished.
- Avoid finding reasons to delay tasks.
- Understand that you will feel less burdened once they are completed.
- Prioritize tasks according to their size and importance, so they are more manageable.
- Let your supervisor know if you are overburdened with tasks.
- Ask for assistance from co-workers, friends, and family.
The Bottom Line
If you procrastinate often, you are not managing your time wisely, as you are adding to your workload burden with each task you put off and are making it more difficult to complete these tasks in the future. Create positive habits by prioritizing tasks and completing them before they pile up and become unmanageable.