Humans have always realized that those who somehow manage to avoid procrastinating get more done. Alexander the Great is said to have attributed his military success to his habit of “never putting anything off.” And yet, for most of us–who just want to get our work done and clean and organize our home, not conquer Asia–the temptation to put things off is ever-present. But as strong as the urge to procrastinate can be, it doesn’t have to control your life. Developing some new habits and adapting a few small shifts in perspective can help you stop procrastinating for good.
Why Is Procrastination Harmful?
Many of us recognize that creeping sense of dread and shame when we’ve been avoiding a task for far too long and its deadline is fast approaching. It’s not just that you’re unprepared, but that you feel as if your unpreparedness is all your own fault.
Procrastination can have negative consequences beyond making us feel bad about ourselves. It turns out shirking your responsibilities till the last possible moment can be destructive to your finances and mental health. Studies suggest that workplace distractions could be costing the economy hundreds of billions of dollars, and procrastination-driven decisions like failing to file taxes in a timely manner can cost individuals hundreds. Over time, procrastination has been found to cause stress and illness.
Why Being Productive Matters
What does life look like for someone who doesn’t procrastinate? For one thing, non-procrastinators know which tasks should take priority; this is considered one of the habits of super-productive people. Not only can non-procrastinators easily identify which tasks should come first, they work to accomplish those tasks in the proper order and in a timely fashion. They use routines and tools, if necessary, to organize their lives and schedules so they can do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. They manage their time so as to minimize the hours they spend worrying about it, inefficiently “planning,” or otherwise avoiding doing what they need to do.
People who don’t procrastinate don’t necessarily enjoy doing everything on their to-do lists, but they’ve figured out that getting stuff done with the least possible delay feels better and causes fewer problems for them in the end.