Neil Fiore, PhD. lists 6 procrastination effects and warning signs in his book, The Now Habit. They really resonated with me, both as a positive changes life coach and as fellow putter-offer (aka "procrastinator.") If you recognize even a few of these procrastination effects (and causes) in your life or someone you care about, you will be relieved to learn that there are some concrete, tested ways to get procrastination help and get rid of its effects. More on that later!
Are you overwhelmed by a long, long list of commitments and obligations and too many responsibilities? If the feeling of overwhelm is one of your procrastination effects, it feels like your "to-do" list actually seems to grow instead of getting smaller when you tick something off. How is that possible!
One of the main warning signs of overwhelm is hearing yourself use phrases like "I have to..." "I need to ..." "I can't because I ought to ..." and my most old favorite "I should..." I used to "should on myself" all the time! Life is much better now that I've put that kind of language aside.
Does it feel like there isn't as much time in the day as you expected there to be?Or as there should be! Do think you might have unrealistic thoughts and ideas about the nature of time? Maybe you sort of forget how long it really takes to get something done. Maybe you figure you can fit it all in, because after all, everyone has the same 24 hours, right? Then suddently is the last minute, and you are scrambling to get there, or get it done .... or it never gets done.
Along those lines, you might tend to talk about projects in vague terms like, "yeah, I'll get to that later," or "I really should get working on that, maybe sometime next week?" or "that's a good project for this evening!" That kind of self-talk is a major cause of procrastination.
You might have what looks like a clear, empty schedule without a good sense of goals and deadlines, commitments and appointments.
And maybe it is true, or maybe it is a myth that you "work best under tight deadlines."
And one of my favorites has always been the myth of multi-tasking. Do you think to yourself, "well, I may be behind because I am putting it off, but I can catch up by doing a couple of things at one time!"
Are you vague about your goals and your values? And do you sometimes find it hard to stick with any one project or person? You quit before you are half-way there and that can be so frustrating and embarrassing!
You might quit so early because you are unclear about what you really want, what you should want (there you go, "shouldin' on yourself" again!)
Or you get easily distracted from a goal by another idea or plan that seems to be easier, less problematic, more exciting, or more fulfilling (you know good and well that the grass isn't really greener on the other side of the fence, but then again, the concept is a major cause of procrastination ).
Do you have a hard time knowing what is the most important way to use your time? It all seems so important!
Do you have unfulfilled dreams or desires? And do you feel resentment, frustration, depression and even anger about it?
It seems like you've never completed or even attempted to achieve some things that are really important to you. That might even make you feel guilty. Or worse, victimized!
And you are hardly ever satisfied with what you DO accomplish!
Maybe you feel deprived - as though you are always working or, else feeling guilty about not working.
You often ask yourself, "Why did I do that?" "Why didn't I JUST DO IT?" or "What is wrong with me?"
Do you have difficulty deciding? Are you afraid of making a mistake?If this is true you might delay finishing the project because you want it to be perfect, in fact you probably demand perfection in you work.
Or maybe you are afraid to take responsibility for a decision because you don't want to be blamed if it doesn't work out, or worse, if it goes all wrong.
Maybe you are one of those worriers who constantly wonders "what if..." it goes wrong? or if there was a better way?
And what about your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your assertiveness skills?Like most of these procrastination effects, low self-esteem and self-confidence are also causes. It is easier to just never get around to it than face possible conflict, or failure.
These three issues often rear their ugly heads in the form of blaming. Blaming others or outside events for failures, often because you are afraid to admit to deficiencies is often a key warning sign.
Maybe you feel that you haven't got the skills or ability to control you own life. The effect of procrastinating is that you never get to witness the skills you actually have, or develop the skills you want to have!
Or it could be that you are afraid others will judge you? or that you will judge yourself.
Last but not least, Dr. Fiore mentions that a key procrastination effect is the rewards we get when we put things off. He doesn't give it a place in the 6 signs of procrastination, it is more a procrastination cause that I think that sort of relates to another cause for me. Sometimes I just don't want to do whatever is on my doing radar, and if I put it off, sometimes I never end up dealing with it! And never dealing with some things is a major procrastination effect.
When you are living with procrastination effects, the symptoms and signs of this sad and frustrating habit, it can be a real problem. But there are ways to defeat the habit. And guess what? as a Life and Wellness Coach, that is one of the things I can help you with! Especially since I have personal experience with a lifetime of procrastination, and with new skills and attitudes I've developed since I became a coach. Continue to learn about the kinds of skills and attitudes you can develop by looking at some of the other procrastination information on this site, and/or contact me and we can talk about it!