Are you a procrastinator?

25/07/2019

Understand how procrastination happens – and how to control it – with insight from LawCare.

Understanding procrastination

Many of us will be familiar with procrastinating - putting off or avoiding a task that needs to be done. Sometimes the more we have to do, the more we procrastinate. If this is you, LawCare offers tips in this article for you to try.

There are two types of procrastination:

  • Active procrastinators work better under pressure, they may choose to leave a task until it’s right down to the wire because they thrive on adrenaline.
  • Passive procrastinators do so to the detriment of their performance. According to a 2013 study procrastination has nothing to do with poor time management or laziness, it occurs because of our inability to manage negative emotion surrounding a task, either focused on an aversion to the task itself or because of the feelings the task provokes: ‘I can’t write this, I don’t know enough about it, my boss will criticise me.’ These thoughts then make us procrastinate further.

Procrastination is closely linked to perfectionism, low self-esteem, fear of failure or of moving forward in our lives. Often procrastination is a red flag that we are finding it hard to cope, it can be a symptom of an underlying issue such as stress, anxiety or depression.

Tips on what to do

Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and accept that you do it. Write down some positive things about yourself, perhaps something nice a colleague said to you, or think about a previous time you completed a similar task successfully.

  • Make a list: Scope out everything you have to do. Break big tasks into smaller manageable chunks so they don’t feel overwhelming and set realistic deadlines for each task.
  • Block out time and remove distractions: Estimate how long certain tasks will take and block out time in your calendar to complete them. Work out what times of day suit you to complete certain tasks. For example, if you’re a morning person you might be better at drafting a document first thing and save routine tasks for the afternoon. If possible, turn off your phone and email notifications during set times so you can stay focused. You can also block access to social media on your phone during certain times of day.
  • Make a start: It’s easy to say just do it – but sometimes you just need to make a start. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Build in rewards: It’s important to build in rest time or reward yourself for meeting deadlines. Perhaps make a deal with yourself to get a coffee after completing a certain task, or go for a walk after clearing your inbox. Short breaks and time away from your desk improve your energy and focus.
  • Seek help: If your procrastination is starting to become unmanageable call LawCare for support on 1800 991 801 or visit the Lawcare website.

eNewsletters

This article originally appeared in the July 2019 Law Society eZine. For more information, and to subscriber, see eNewsletters.