Procrastination at 50

happy birthdayMy past weekend was quite chaotic, which partially explains the delay in this post. I hit the grand old age of 50, which is somewhat weird – mainly because everyone expects you to feel different. Age is just a number, and I’m sure all of us can find examples of people who act and look very different (better or worse) than their real ages.

I must confess my physical body does at times feel a bit ancient – something I would like to address – whilst mentally I feel quite young. But I got myself into a mess by being over confident and falling back into a habit of my youth – procrastination.

I spent the weekend working on my photography portfolio, which I need to hand in this week as part of my adult education course. I had taken all the photographs I needed and had done the practical work for the assignments – but I kept putting off writing everything up. I kept telling myself I was capable of doing the work, that it should be quite straight forward. But that doesn’t get the work done!!

Procrastination is related to time management and a lack of energy and enthusiasm for work. Why do we give in to procrastination? We have a natural tendency to avoid discomfort or put off tasks that are unpleasant – or tasks that seem overwhelming.

Another reason may be a fear of failure. Perfectionism and concentration difficulties are major issues which give rise to procrastination. In my case I didn’t fear failure and wasn’t being a perfectionist. I can hardly blame poor concentration, when I never actually did anything.

The problem was, I never started. I kept convincing myself I didn’t need to do it at that time. Often, it takes more energy to procrastinate than to get something done! Rather than keeping control of my photography project and setting myself ongoing tasks and targets, I just did the bits that I enjoyed (i.e. taking the photographs) and made no plans for doing the writing.

Rather than procrastination – bit of a mouthful – how about “lack of self discipline”. Ouch! Yep, the real reason is I just didn’t set aside time to do a fairly simple task, then spoilt my project my rushing it all at the end. I also messed up other plans I had for the weekend (such as celebrating my birthday and blogging!!)

The realization that procrastination itself is self-imposed is a big step towards your understanding that it’s a bad habit that can stick. Self disciple, like will power, isn’t something that is widely written or talked about. But without it, you’re going to have to rely on others to organize and push you to get things done. Which doesn’t help you’re self esteem.

Mo June 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Happy Birthday! I remember my 50th – half a century – by the way, your birthday cake looks delicious.

Nicolas November 16, 2008 at 4:33 am

When I read your very nice article I saw you were using the word discipline. I recommend that you ban this word from your vocabulary and focus on motivation instead. Whereas motivation is a positive thought discipline leads to feeling guilty and inferior making it even more difficult to restart.

I wrote an article on a technique to overcome exactly this issue on my Time Management Master blog. Chaining will help you change habits and overcome procrastination since it already includes the basic idea that you will not be successful in the first attempt.

http://memytime.wordpress.com/2008/11/06/change-habits-with-forward-chaining/

I would be interested in knowing if this was helpful to you.

Nicolas

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: