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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Can I prevent the panic of procrastination? Yes! Be on time with 3 B's.

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

old fashioned alarm clock surrounded by words saying next day, tomorrow, after, and later

Have you ever put something off to the last minute? Of course. We all have.

And when we do, panic often prevails. Will we be done in time? Will we get it right? Why did this happen, again?

Procrastination prevents our best work and creates unnecessary stress. It can even lead to complete failure to accomplish a desired task or goal.

You might wonder… Can I prevent the panic of procrastination? After all, doesn’t everyone do it? Yes…

Procrastination is a common enemy.

Most studies measuring the prevalence of procrastination have been done on college students and indicate that among that population approximately 50% chronically procrastinate on academic assignments.

Among the general adult population, the percentage of chronic procrastinators is closer to 20%. However, a survey of adults in the workforce indicates nearly 90% of us admit to procrastinating at least an hour every day. That’s a LOT of delayed work!

I was recently reminded of our common battle with procrastination when giving a speech to fellow food and nutrition professionals. When I gave the charge to select the strategy for overcoming miscommunication they wanted to tackle most, defeating procrastination tied for first place.

Like them, you might be asking… Can I prevent the panic of procrastination? My answer… Yes.

Be on time with 3 B’s.

#1 - Begin early to prevent procrastination.

When time is on our side, we have time to do the background research that leads to our best work. We have time to organize our thoughts, plan carefully, create, review, revise, and gain expert input. We can return to our work with fresh eyes after a good night’s sleep rather than finishing in the wee hours of the morning.

When we begin early, we give ourselves the luxury of time. Too often, procrastination causes us to skip important steps in planning, preparation, and execution. It is rare we have “too much time” to complete the work.

To achieve this B takes initiative, one of the 6 Keys to Success. Assess your level of initiative and set a goal to begin early.

#2 – Break it down to prevent procrastination.

How often have you heard someone claim they do their best work under the threat of a deadline? Whether or not you believe them, deadlines are strong motivators. Use this to your advantage by creating multiple deadlines. How? Break it down.

When a task appears overwhelming, we are more likely to procrastinate. By breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, the job appears less daunting. Better, by giving each smaller task a deadline, we capitalize on the motivation of deadlines without delaying until the ultimate deadline.

Begin with small, simple steps that are easily completed. This creates a success mindset and propels forward motion. Work at creating new habits that replace and prevent procrastination habits.

#3 – Beat your barriers to prevent procrastination.

What causes procrastination? Everyone’s answer is unique, though many causes are common. Beating your barriers to starting or completing tasks in a timely way begins with identifying what they are. Which of these common barriers do you experience?

  • Distractions, especially those involving electronic devices: surfing the internet, playing video games, scrolling social media, and reading texts or emails.

  • Dreading tasks we consider boring, too difficult, complex, or confusing.

  • Delaying for fear of failure to do “perfect” work.

  • Depression, despondency, or simply feeling down.

Once identified, eliminate distractions, reframe perspectives, set realistic outcomes, and take positive steps to deal with negative emotions. If needed, work with a coach, therapist, or mentor to set goals and create action plans.

Can I prevent the panic of procrastination? Yes. Be on time with the 3 B’s. Begin early. Break it down. Beat your barriers.

“A procrastinator is a thief of his or her own time.” ~ Jhoon Rhee

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