In this weekend’s Telegraph there was a fascinating article on procrastination – how much we do it and why. It was inspired by a study published by the lending company RateSetter earlier this month and based on a YouGov survey of 2,000 adults. Many interesting facts emerged. For example:

  • on average we spend 218 minutes a day procrastinating (or 55 days a year!)
  • employees spend approximately 43 minutes a day doing non-related things (making tea, chatting with colleagues)
  • women are (apparently!) the worse culprits. They procrastinate for an extra 26 minutes a day compared to men.
  • The three tasks most commonly put off are health and fitness, employment and managing personal finance.
  • those living in the North of England spend 227 minutes a day procrastinating compared to 190 minutes in the south.

The report concluded that people who put things off regularly are generally unhappier and less wealthy and less healthy in comparison to those who get on with things promptly. That’s quite a conclusion! Procrastination can take place in three forms. These are firstly ‘arousal’ – waiting to do something at the last minute for that euphoric rush. Secondly ‘decisional’ – people who simply cannot make a decision and absolve themselves of the responsibility of outcomes and thirdly ‘avoiders’ – those who fear both failure and success because they fear what others will think of them.

So – what to do about it? The article quoted psychiatrist Phil Stutz, co-author of the personal growth book “The Tools”. He related avoiding taking action with the desire to avoid pain and advised visualising the pain as a black cloud that you propel yourself through to the other side. By adopting this tool regular he believes it will become habitual to move towards the pain (or task) instead of away from it.

Other tips on how not to procrastinate covered:

  • questioning the reason behind a task (if you don’t know it, don’t do it)
  • delegating where appropriate
  • break down tasks to manageable sizes
  • ask for help when you need to
  • stop being a perfectionist
  • remove distractions
  • observe the danger times when you are likely to procrastinate
  • remember previous frustrations when you didn’t get things done – and previous satisfaction when you did
  • forgive yourself when you do procrastinate
  • and finally visualise your future and identify the next step you can take to get to where you want to be.

At Alice Johnsen Life Coaching we can look at any time management issues you may have, including problems with procrastination. You will find details of how to contact me at the end of this site. I really look forward to hearing from you – today, not tomorrow!