Richard, a manager in a high tech firm, started to write a paper for his MBA program at ten in the evening. He worked until 1:00 a.m., then satisfied that the paper could be turned in class the following evening, finally went to bed.

The next morning at work, feeling exhausted, he berated himself for waiting until the last possible time to get his homework done. He always seemed to procrastinate about something important, and then push himself beyond his limits to get it done.
He seldom kept his promise to himself to start things early.

Richard discussed the problem with his mentor. As they explored procrastination, Richard learned why people often have trouble starting difficult, unpleasant, or time consuming tasks. They usually say to themselves “I should…” or “I have to…” and ignore the little voice that says, “I DON’T WANT TO!” After all, it’s not acceptable not to want to do those things. When people procrastinate, that little voice takes charge.

There are many possible reasons for not wanting to do a task.

  • Sometimes a person has decided to do a task to meet a long-term objective, and immediate short term projects seem more pressing.
  • Some people don’t want to do a task because it is inherently unpleasant.
  • Others don’t want to do it because they are afraid of failing and looking bad.
  • Often people don’t want to do a task because it is about someone else’s agenda and not their own. They said yes to a request they really wanted to refuse.

Sometimes people fear starting a large, complicated project because they simply don’t know how to organize and manage the task. They may believe that not having enough time will excuse them from not meeting their own very high standards. In today’s busy world,
people often believe they need to do more than it is possible for one human being to accomplish in any reasonable period of
. The reasons for procrastination are as varied as the people who procrastinate.

Richard had lots of information and a few suspicions about why he kept putting off important tasks. He made a list of the commitments in his life. Work, school, his fiancee, his community service activities, and his loyalty to his softball teammates —
he couldn’t remember the last time he had taken any time to just relax. He was clearly over-committed, and his short-term activities were interfering with his long-term goals.

He discussed the situation with his fiancée, who helped him set priorities about what things would matter most to both of them. He decided that both work and school were important to his long term success, and that he really preferred hiking with his fiancée to playing softball. He also reluctantly decided to postpone the community service activities until he completed his MBA. In the following few weeks, he found that he was able to keep his commitments to himself, and even take a few evenings off just to relax.

[tags]Personal Growth, Psychotherapy,Self Help, Self-Improvement[/tags]