Fear, rebellion lead to procrastination
By Anita Bruzzese
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Thomas Jefferson once said you should never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
Of course, Jefferson didn't have kids to get to soccer practice, a 45-minute commute, hundreds of emails to read and a boss who believes micromanagement is a gift.
It can be difficult to get everything done in our busy lives. But when you add procrastination to the mix, you've got a recipe for career disaster.
Jay Earley, a psychotherapist who has written on procrastination and what to do about it, says procrastinators don't make a conscious choice to put things off.
“They know they need to do certain things, but they avoid it by forgetting about it or getting distracted with other things,” he says. “Or they may plan to do something, but they just sit there and can't get going.”
Psychologically, he says procrastination can come from a fear of what will happen if you do the task.
You may be afraid that if you take on a project at work, you will fail or look bad.
Or you may even fear you'll be successful and be attacked for it.
“You may believe people will take pot shots at you or you'll be ostracized,” he says.
Another psychological reason behind procrastination: unconscious rebellion.
You may not want your boss or your company telling you what to do. You may even be waging an internal rebellion against the part of you telling yourself to do the task and the other part that rejects the idea, Earley says.
The key is getting in touch with the root of your fear or defiance.
“Usually fear comes from childhood, and that's why it may be overblown,” he says.
If you had a father who was heavily judgmental, you may overreact to a boss who gives you feedback. You then may fear the boss's reaction to your work, put off completing assignments and miss deadlines.
“In other words, this boss is probably not as judgmental as you believe him to be. You need to do some introspection and see that what is really going now is really not that difficult,” Earley says. “Or you can tell yourself that you can come up with a plan to handle what's happening in your life today.”
Earley, author of “Taking Action: Working Through Procrastination and Achieving Your Goals,” (Pattern System Books, $9.45), says you can deal with procrastination in several ways:
• Clarify your motivation.Do you want to feel better about yourself or stop disappointing colleagues?
List the pain that your procrastination causes and what you have to gain from making improvements.
• Plan ahead. Ask yourself what tasks in the next two weeks you are likely to procrastinate on and what you need to do to overcome those tendencies.
• Get a buddy. Get someone supportive in your life to listen to your plans and help you stay on track.
You can check in with that person on your progress.
“This will help keep you on track because you know you're going to have to talk to someone about what you got done,” Earley says.
Procrastination also can be a headache for those who don't practice it but must work with someone who does.
In those cases, Earley advises you to avoid triggering fear or rebellion in colleagues by not coming on too strong or being judgmental.
“Once you recognize what's behind their behavior, then you can work to be more supportive and help them overcome their procrastination,” he says.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates make inquiry into former Cy Young winner Johan Santana
- McCutchen proposes to girlfriend on DeGeneres show
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Police: Driver fell unconscious before Seton Hill bus crash
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- PNC plans to do away with tellers
- Woodley says he’s fine with move to right side despite numbers
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger comes to Haley defense again
- Indiana County man ordered to trial in shooting of Derry woman in her home
- Penguins’ Neal apologizes, vows to be better
- City Council puts off vote on Produce Terminal historic designation