Photo courtesy of Sophie
Some people are more notorious than others for procrastinating, but generally speaking, we all know what it feels like to put things off until the last minute. Especially today, with so many modes of entertainment right at our fingertips, staying on top of those less-than-thrilling tasks can be a challenge. While it has been said that “good things come to those who wait,” it’s easy to miss the sweet spot, and before you know it – waiting for the right time can turn into a less-than-desirable habit.
Habitual procrastinators have often been told that they’re lazy, irresponsible, or just plain dumb. The facts point in a different direction, however. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology investigated what exactly causes people to “put things off.”
Have you been called a procrastinator? Are you easily distracted? Have there been times that you’ve made commitments you’ve failed to properly fulfill?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be suffering from what is known as Self-Regulation Failure. And, while it sounds rather Doomsday, the bones of the issue are pretty easy to understand and fix.
Psychologists have noticed a pretty solid connection between procrastination and a high ego. Now how many of you just had a lightbulb turn on? I know I did. I definitely think pretty highly of myself, and have been known to procrastinate, so I can vouch for the connection in my case.
Having an elevated sense of self is fantastic, so if you’re feeling pretty good about yourself on a regular basis, let me be the first one to congratulate you. Don’t even think about changing how great you think you are. You can become more productive on a more regular basis without knocking any wind out of your sails.
Here’s what generally happens: A person with a relatively high ego agrees to a certain task sometime in the future. The main reason she agrees to complete the task (be it a favor, freelance project, or work commitment) is because she feels she can accomplish anything. Which she is statistically probably right about.
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
As the deadline for said task approaches, she may suddenly see the task as above her capabilities, or out of her range of expertise, so she puts it off. If she manages to complete the task but fails to do it well, she considers herself a failure.
Because of her sense of failure, she then begins to procrastinate on more and more action items, until practically everything in her life is put off until the absolute last possible second. You see, she’s afraid to fail again.
If this sounds like you, becoming aware that this phenomenon is occurring in your life may actually be all that you needed. You’ve already got a good sense of self-esteem. Keep agreeing to demanding tasks like you’ve always done in the past, only instead of fearing them, embrace the element of challenge that they bring to your life. Try to glide easily over the little bumps along the way as you complete difficult assignments in a timely manner. As long as you apply yourself and continue to give your all, failure isn’t even an option.