“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow”–Mark Twain

From U of I Extension’s Strengthening Families Newsletter

At times, we’ve all had the feeling that there is much to do, but we just can’t get motivated. We also have likely experienced the satisfaction that results from accomplishing tasks that need to get done. It’s natural for levels of motivation to ebb and flow in our lives. Sometimes our enthusiasm needs a boost.

Most of us procrastinate sometime. Our intentions are good. We say we will do it but then it just simply never gets done. We put it out of our minds and that works for a while. Or we do something else that has less importance. We get a lot of insignificant things done but the things that we really must get done are still waiting. Knowing why we are putting the task off is the first step toward finding our motivation.

Here are some common reasons for procrastinating:

Lacking skills: Technically, it is not procrastinating if the time is used to develop the skills necessary to carry out the task.

Being disorganized: Sometimes, the project is overwhelming and not knowing where to start we put it off until later. Break a large task into small tasks, making it more manageable. Small tasks are often easier to fit in between other obligations.

Being afraid of failure. This may be the result of negative messages we give ourselves. It is helpful to pay attention to the beliefs we have about our abilities. If this fear is because of not knowing how to do it, learning how will reduce your fear.

Having no deadline. It is true that we are more likely to get to the task if someone is waiting for it. Tell someone else about your plan and you are more likely to complete it in a timely manner.

Seeing it as unimportant. If it is really necessary to complete the task, it is probably important to someone. Look for meaning in completing it. If it is not important to anyone, it can possibly be eliminated.

Not enjoying the task. Some things need to be done even though we may anticipate that we are not going to like doing them. When we think we will not enjoy the tasks, we probably won’t. It is helpful to think about what we say to others and ourselves. Change negative statements to positive statements to increase your motivation.

Being afraid of not being perfect. By putting off doing the task, we often rush at the last minute and often reduce the quality of our work. Remember no one is perfect at all things. Be the best you can be.

Fear of the consequences. There may be times when we agree to accept a task that we believe will result in situations of which we do not approve. If this is the basis of your procrastination, look for an alternative to completing the task as planned or perhaps eliminate the task altogether.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. Will Rogers

Author: Rachel Schwarzendruber, Extension Educator, Family Life, 2008

Editor: Patti Faughn, Extension Educator, Family Life, 2008

Source: Rachel Schwarzendruber, Extension Educator, Family Life, rschwarz@uiuc.edu

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