You can break the cycle of putting off important tasks you can be doing today.
It's such a long word, you almost want to put off saying it. It's
Procrastination -- also known as delaying, shillyshallying, and excuse-making.
But if you chronically put things off, you will suffer for it -- fines, late
payment fees, nosebleed tickets, and often, bad, hastily done work
that can lead to unpleasant consequences. Plus -- don't forget that nagging
feeling and a suspicion that you are "not worthy."
William Knaus, EdD, a professor at American International College in
Springfield, Mass., wrote the book on not writing the book. Co-author of
Overcoming Procrastination; Do It Now -- How to Break the Procrastination
Habit; and The Procrastination Workbook: Your Personalized Program for
Breaking Free of the Patterns That Hold You Back. Knaus tells WebMD that
even people who are perpetually late qualify as procrastinators.
Sitting in high school biology, listening to the teacher drone on about
genetics, I snapped to attention when she used male pattern baldness as an
example of a dominant trait. My heart started pounding with fear - with bald
men on both sides of my mother's family as far as the eye could see, I was
doomed to have a chrome dome.
I remained anguished about the prospect of being bald for the next 20 years
as my hairline retreated and my hair steadily thinned. Bald men seemed
disfigured to me....
Procrastination, Knaus tells WebMD, is an automatic habit process that leads
to needless postponement. "It's automatic," he says. "It happens seamlessly
time and time again." Symptoms include:
When you face something unpleasant, boring, or have doubts about your
abilities, you substitute a less-timely, relevant, or lower-priority task. Time
to do taxes -- but wait, the windows haven't been washed in ages! They look
terrible. I can hardly see out. Let's see, where is the bucket? Knaus calls
these diversions "addictivities."
You decide later would be better because the task or idea needs time to
You need to do more "research."
I want to do it, but there must be an easier way. Let me think of one.
In what Knaus calls the "catch-22" ploy, you put yourself in a position in
which you cannot follow through. Say you want to find a mate, but you convince
yourself you have a fatal flaw, so you foreclose on yourself before you even
begin. Or you'd like to get an advanced degree, but convince yourself everyone
will be younger or smarter.
Or you think backward. "I can't start this because I don't understand the
past as well as I should." You look over your life. Then you look over your
life some more. "Pretty soon," Knaus says, "you know more and more about less
and less and still haven't started whatever it is yet."
Indecision is another procrastination trigger, according to Gail McMeekin,
MSW, owner of the coaching firm called Creative Success in Newton, Mass., and
author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. "You feel the need
to weigh the options," she says. "Then weigh them some more."
"These are all what we call 'mañana diversions,'" Knaus says.
Procrastination can also be born of disorganization or forgetfulness. Fear
is also a motivator -- what if you don't do a good job or do you know how to do
a good job? Anger can also bring out resistance -- you don't want to be
Other procrastinators are, strange as it sounds, perfectionists. They don't
want to do something if they can't do it perfectly. Even though a desire to not
leave things hanging is also a trait of being a perfectionist, these types of
people often let tasks pile up because they cannot do them perfectly in the