Procrastination is a time challenge for everyone.
Whether it’s something you do infrequently or a chronic problem, procrastination has a profound effect on your productivity, your energy, your confidence, AND your self-esteem!
In past articles, I’ve written about how to play your way out of procrastination and about how pressure often feeds into the self-criticism that depletes your confidence and ultimately reinforces the tendency to procrastinate about tasks.
What about deadlines and procrastination?
Well, what I call soft deadlines can be quite helpful in addressing the challenges presented by procrastination. A soft deadline is a self-imposed ‘due date’ – something that you create for yourself and schedule before the actual deadline.
One of the advantages of a soft deadline is described by Eric Jaffe in his article titled “Self-Imposed Deadlines Don’t Stop Procrastination. Here’s What Might.” He notes that a self-imposed or soft deadline, when adhered to, gives you time to adjust and finish a task if it turns out to be more difficult and time-consuming than originally thought.
The problem with these deadlines, however, is that … well … I’ll let him tell you:
Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University, one of the leading scholars of procrastination, isn’t surprised that self-imposed deadlines don’t resolve undesirable delays. Procrastinators may need the tension of a looming deadline to get motivated, but when that deadline is self-imposed its authority is corrupted and the motivation never materializes. “The deadline isn’t real, and self-deception is a big part of procrastination,” he tells Co.Design.
… If time management were the essence of the problem, a self-imposed deadline should help. But … procrastinators delay a task because they’re not in the mood to do it and deceive themselves into thinking they will be later on. When that time comes and they’re not, they’re in the same emotional place but with less time until deadline.
So there’s an important distinction here. Sometimes delaying a task has to do with changing priorities and consciously made time choices. On the other hand, sometimes delaying a task has to do with procrastination. Recognizing the difference is crucial.
And if you find that you are procrastinating, then one very helpful decision you can make is to focus on what makes the task meaningful for you. Why is it important?
Zero in on the positives – NOT the negative consequences if you don’t complete the task. The latter will just increase pressure which depletes your energy and invites your inner-critic to join the conversation!
How is the task meaningful to you? How might you even make it enjoyable? This may be a stretch, but when you enlist your creativity, I think you are likely to come up with ideas – some of which may surprise you.© Copyright 2014 Paula Eder, Ph.D.