The Now Habit investigates a problem many people can relate to today: procrastination. Why do people put off important tasks until the last possible second? And how can they be helped? The Now Habit explains where this phenomenon comes from, and which mindset and tools can help us overcome it.
Procrastination is a problem most of us are familiar with. In spite of its prevalence, procrastination is typically tied to very specific situations.
Usually, we procrastinate on work, that is, when there is a certain task we’re required to perform like writing a report, organizing a seminar or making a presentation in front of a team.
These tasks are all significant and not part of your routine. You don’t procrastinate going to the bathroom or answering a colleague who wants to take you to lunch, but you might put off starting an important presentation.
In fact, the types of tasks we procrastinate on usually have three important characteristics:
First, when you want to do a good job on something so you can live up to others’ and your own expectations.
Second, you find the work dull. It’s no fun and getting started, for example, writing the first page or filling up PowerPoint slides takes motivation.
Finally, it’s unclear what qualifies as a “good job”: you simply don’t know how to live up to others’ expectations and deliver a great presentation or write an outstanding report. What is “good?” What is “good enough?” And what if you pour your heart and soul into a project that completely fails?
When faced with these kinds of tasks, the inevitable consequence is a choice between two options:
If you start working on the task, you spend your time on something boring, plus you risk failing and disappointing both yourself and others as well.
If you don’t start working, you can avoid this boredom, uncertainty and the fear of failure.
So what do you choose? Most likely, you’ll choose the second strategy and delay the unpleasantness associated with your task. And, in a certain sense, it works: you learn that procrastination helps you avoid boredom and fear of failure – at least temporarily.