Why We Procrastinate & How to Stop

Situation: Let’s just say that this *ahem* hypothetical girl has a paper due next week. Let’s just pretend it’s a take-home midterm and that she’s on spring break.
Now, this anonymous figment of my imagination of a girl received her assignment last week. School is out. She could have done it any day at any time this week. Yet… Something in her brain has a complete disinterest in doing it. So much so that she has resorted to reorganizing her imaginary Pinterest boards on her imaginary Pinterest account instead of just doing the assignment!
So, as we think about this girl and all of the many, many issues she obviously has… We wonder, “What causes her brain to want to do anything but the thing she’s supposed to be doing? She could have done that assignment 49 times by now!”
Well, you know what? This girl may not be as special as she thinks. Because 65% of college students consider themselves chronic procrastinators. 65%!
Let’s find out how she can get over herself and just finish (aka start) her assignment.
Oh, btw, she’s me.

There are 3 major types of procrastinators.

If you…

Love the rush of turning something in “just in time”
Don’t mind a little extra drama in daily life
“Work better under pressure”
…you are The Thrill Seeker. 

If you…

Unintentionally attach your self-worth to your work
Worry about what others think
Fear failure
…you are The Avoider

If you…

Research potential decisions to death before choosing
Strive to make the “perfect” decision
Fear making AN error
…you are The Indecision Maker 
Realizing what KIND of procrastinator you are also allows you to see where you are getting stuck on projects and other big moves you should be making. I am that 3rd one. I am not even kidding about this: sometimes I do the project twice and choose the one that turned out better. BUT when you know what your weakness is, you can take steps to stop yourself before you’ve gone too far! After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

But we all procrastinate for the same reason.

Taking action will cost us something.

Whether it’s energy, money, or time, we are basically dreading what taking action will cause us to lose. What will I lose by doing my midterm? Gosh, maybe 20 minutes of my life. Yet I’ve allowed it to loom over my head for 6 days now! So, think about what you will lose by doing the thing you’re putting off.
Now think about what you’re doing with that energy/money/time right now (reading a blog about how to stop procrastinating, of course). Is it as important as finishing your work? Probably not (but just keep reading anyway… I was able to put off my midterm a couple of extra hours by writing it).

And we use 4 major excuses to justify it.

1. “I’m just waiting for the right…” {time / place / inspiration}

Not gonna happen. There is never going to be a day that’s gloomy and boring enough that I’m like, “hey, doing my midterm would totally brighten up my day”! We just have to make today the day we’ve been waiting for!

2. “I’m about to start that, first I just need to…” {clean / e-mail / shop}

I’ve been doing this all week. I could keep doing it all next week. In fact, I could literally keep doing it forever. The list of things that we have to do will never end…. like, ever. We’re not going to wake up one morning and say, “woo! Nothing on the agenda today! Now I’ll write that paper”! Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

3. “I’m still trying to decide on the right…” {day / outfit / topic}

Luckily, the assignment I’m putting off right now doesn’t require me to choose a topic (which would obviously be accompanied by its own panic attack). But whether it’s starting a new workout routine, choosing a formal dress, or committing to a research topic, mulling over decisions literally halts our productivity. Do not allow yourself to get hung up on indecision! Choose something and move on! Besides, if you put your best effort into it, whatever you choose will turn out fabulously anyway!

4. “I work better under pressure.”

No. You don’t. And by the way, I’m speaking to myself here because this is me. I say this all the time. I think this all the time. And while it may make an assignment more exciting, it’s also completely untrue! In fact, we are more likely to make grammatical errors, have incoherent thoughts, or poorly researched topics if we rush through projects. Do NOT let your brain trick you into believing this!
The truth of the matter is that, when we procrastinate, we are putting off some sort of discomfort. What we don’t realize is that, by doing so, we are just causing ourselves to feel MORE discomfort. Not only that, but the work we do complete (when we finally get around to it) is way inferior to what we could have done if we gave ourselves more time!

So, let’s just stop with the excuses and get it done now!

(after you check out my Pinterest boards, of course, because they really are looking totally organized)


So, what about you? 
Which kind of procrastinator are you? 
Do you have any tips/tricks to help kick this nasty habit? 

Unstuck: How to Stop Procrastinating 

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