Why do we procrastinate?
Did you know pigeons procrastinate? No, nor did I.
This was just one the interesting facts we discovered about procrastination when we were asked to create a workshop around it earlier this year.
People often blame procrastination and our struggle to stay on task on the digital age. But Cicero the Roman philosopher said, “Slowness and procrastination are detestable in the conduct of most affairs”.
So procrastination is as old as the hills and it’s not good for our mental health. In 1997, Dianne Tice and Roy Baumeister found that students who procrastinated had lower grades and higher stress levels than other students.
Procrastination is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something”. This could be a deadline at work but it could also be doing the big food shop or just going to bed on time. We all have something in our lives we regularly put off.
The first step in creating the workshop was to take a new look at procrastination, in particular, what lies behind it. Procrastinators struggle with something called self-efficacy which is believing that they can successfully carry out a particular task.
When we doubt our ability to do something successfully we put it off. If you doubt your ability to deliver your product successfully, you put off making your website. If you’re uncertain about how to approach a new client, you delay sending that cold e-mail.
This got us thinking, maybe procrastination is a signal that you are about to leave your comfort zone.
When you are in your comfort zone you are confident you can do what’s required, “You’ve got this”. That’s why it’s your comfort zone!
When you step out your are less certain and it’s procrastination time.
So what can we do about procrastinating?
The good news is when we recognise why we procrastinate we can treat it differently. We can reframe procrastination a signal that we are afraid to leave our comfort zone. So if there is something you are procrastinating about, rather than beating yourself up about it, try asking instead,
“What am I afraid that I won’t be able to do successfully?”
Want to find out more?
Our workshop has now become an online course so you can learn four easy, effective tools to help you step out of your comfort zone, stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done. All from the comfort of your own home!