We have known the deadline for several weeks, but we find reasons not to work on that project until the last night and then pull an all-nighter and give an acceptable final product, but it is far from being the best that your creative mind can provide.
Why does this happen? Well, it is the result of a psychological defense mechanism that compels us to avoid tasks that are unpleasant, difficult, emotionally demanding, or anxiety-provoking. Maybe deep down, we fear we will fail in providing a perfect presentation. Maybe we are afraid of failure and subsequent humiliation.
“I work best under pressure.” We all have heard this, and it is true. But the problem is that, when there is time pressure, we have adrenaline overflow, which increases our output but kills our creativity. We can analyze piles of data rapidly, discuss each point thoroughly, and put together the final presentation quickly, but the creativity would be conspicuously absent. The big picture vision will not be there. The out-of-the-box thinking will still be at home on our pillow.
You are also increasing energy required to complete the project. If project A requires X amount of intellectual energy, Y amount of physical energy, and Z amount of emotional energy, then, with procrastination, the same project will require the same amount of intellectual and physical energy, but much larger amount of emotional energy because this incomplete unpleasant task continually haunts your subconscious.
The energy required to complete project A equals X + Y + Z.
With procrastination, the energy required to complete
project A equals X + Y + Zt, where t is time taken to finish the project.
Did you know that the second week of March is National Procrastination Week? Well, actually, it’s the first week of March, but it is celebrated in the second week after a lot of procrastination.
How Can We Conquer Procrastination? Well, it is difficult but here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
- Replace negative emotions with enthusiasm by using faith, peer support, and incessant activity, both physical and intellectual.
- Set pseudo-deadlines. I have found this immensely helpful when dealing with an unpleasant project. Tell yourself and your teammates that the deadline is a week before the actual deadline.
- Start small. A series of small steps will generate enough confidence and motivate you to finish the big project.
- Use “front loaders” first. If it is a team project, assign “front loaders” the task of researching and writing the preliminary draft while assigning polishing of the final product to the “back loaders.” This way, at least the front loaders will present the project well rested.
What are the tricks and tips you follow to fight procrastination? Please share them. Don’t procrastinate!