A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Moncton to deliver a workshop on Overcoming Procrastination at the IAAP Atlantic Conference for a group of over 80 very enthusiastic women. Wow, it was good fun and we had some interesting discussion about procrastination and why we do it.
We brought up the topic of laziness – is procrastination laziness? Some people thought that sometimes it was laziness but most of the time not so much. It seems to go much deeper than that in a lot of instances.
Is procrastination due to perfectionism? In many cases it may very well be. We often wait for the perfect conditions, saying to ourselves, “I’ll do this when …” or “I can’t do this until …”. However, as the quote says, “Opportunities are easily lost while waiting for the perfect conditions.” (Gary Ryan Blair).
I have this article that I cut from The Globe and Mail several months ago which I pulled out in preparing for the workshop. It’s all about perfectionism and procrastination and how they may or may not be linked. According to the article perhaps it is not about perfectionism even though studies show that it is. Apparently perfectionists who procrastinate are more likely to seek help from therapists so they turn up in research numbers more often. Gee whiz, I needed therapy for that, who knew! If you are a perfectionist you feel worse about putting things off and therefore seek help to overcome it.
Hmmm . . . being a recovering perfectionist myself I still think that I wait for the perfect conditions to start or finish certain things and somehow they always get done before the deadline, always. Perhaps that’s my perfectionist standards or just the nature of the expectations of others that Professional Organizers always do everything ahead of schedule – how’s that for a little added pressure!
The article goes on to postulate that procrastination is, in fact, a result of impulsiveness. Say what? Impulsive people (you can tell I’m not one) live impatiently in the present moment and want everything right now. Showing self-control or delaying gratification is difficult for impulsive people. So, anxiety over a deadline leads directly to procrastination. And impulsiveness, they say, causes disorganized procrastinators who are mighty distractible. Impulsive people find it difficult to plan work ahead of time which leads to a lot of late nights just before the project deadline.
Wow, pretty complicated stuff, don’t you think?