Uh-oh, you've got the earmarks of a
procrastinator. Of course, you've got lots
of company. Twenty percent of people
identify themselves as chronic
procrastinators. These are people who don't
pay their bills on time, who miss
opportunities for buying tickets to
concerts, who leave Christmas shopping until
Christmas Eve. Let's not even talk about
trivial, although as a culture we don't take
it seriously as a problem.
It represents a profound problem of
College seems to bring out
procrastination in people. In the
college setting, up to 70 percent of
students identify themselves as
Of course, it won't help you get things
done any faster to know that procrastination
isn't good for your health. Putting
things off creates higher levels of
stress and sends all those stress
hormones coursing through your body,
wearing it out faster. And it puts you at
risk for poor health because you're just as
likely to delay seeking treatment for
medical problems as you are to delay
Procrastinators make themselves sick!
Procrastination actually weakens your immune
system. It keeps you awake at night. And it
doesn't do a thing for your relationships
either. It makes loved ones resentful,
because it shifts the burden of
responsibilities onto them.
Procrastinators are made and not born.
That's both the good news and the bad news.
Good because it's a learned response, and
what's learned can be unlearned. The bad
news is that while it's possible to change,
it takes a lot of psychic energy and you
don't necessarily feel transformed
You should know that some people who
think of themselves as procrastinators
really aren't. In a world of unending
deadlines, they just put too many things on
their "To Do" list. They're not avoiding
tasks, the mark of a bona fide
procrastinator; they're getting things done,
just not as many as they would like.
Five lies procrastinators tell
It's easy to tell whether you're a real
procrastinator. According to Joseph Ferrari,
Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at
De Paul University in Chicago, real
procrastinators tell themselves five lies:
• They overestimate the time they have
left to perform tasks.
• They underestimate the time it takes to
• They overestimate how motivated they
will feel the next day, next week, the
next month--whenever they are putting
things off to.
• They mistakenly think that succeeding
at a task requires that they feel like doing
• They mistakenly believe that working
when not in the mood is suboptimal.
Procrastinators also actively look for
distractions, especially ones that don't
take heavy-duty commitment on their part.
Checking e-mail is just about tailor-made
for this purpose. The dirty little secret is
that procrastinators distract themselves as
a way of regulating their own emotions, such
fear of failure.
So face it. Some tasks are never going to
be joyful moments of blissful pleasure no matter how long they
marinate on your desk. You've got to do them
Eight ways to overcome procrastination
How to tackle procrastination? Dr. Ferrari
recommends these strategies for reducing
1. Make a list of everything you have to
2. Write a statement of intention.
3. Set realistic
4. Break it down into specific tasks.
5. Make your task meaningful.
6. Promise yourself a reward.
7. Eliminate tasks you never plan to do.
8. Estimate the amount of time you think
it will take you to complete a task. Then
increase the amount by 100%.