Fear and Why We Procrastinate
Fear. It’s an overwhelming feeling and its grasp on us is overpowering yet at most times undetectable to us. Nevertheless, it’s there, controlling our subconscious mind. It’s not the only reason we procrastinate but I would argue it’s the most predominant and the hardest to overcome.
Think about your to-do list. Where do you tend to schedule the hardest tasks, the ones you fear most? It’s human nature to avoid tasks where fear is involved. It could be a fear of rejection or simply the fear of the actual task at hand. For example, if you don’t like to talk on the phone, it’s very unlikely that you prioritize making phone calls over sending emails. But should you?
Here is the slippery slope when it comes to procrastination. We prioritize our to-do lists in order of what we prefer to do versus what is an essential task. So as our day goes on and new tasks are added to our to-do lists, we schedule them in front of the task we fear until it’s eventually moved to your next day’s to-do list or next week’s to-do list, etc. Our fear and dislike of these tasks make it all too easy to convince ourselves that it’s not essential or that it can wait.
Here is the argument to prioritizing the tasks we dislike the most over the tasks we enjoy doing. Have you ever been told to eat the frog first? There is a book called “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy that describes how prioritizing your day and putting the tasks you don’t want to do first will help you be more productive throughout the rest of your day. The idea is that you’ve already done your most dreaded tasks at the very beginning of the day. It can also make you happier to do the tasks you enjoy.
On the other hand, if you organize your to-do list the way we all tend to you are likely to go through your day distracted by the dreaded task that is last on your list. It nags at you all day, pulling your focus away from the rest of your list. It can actually make you less effective doing the tasks you actually enjoy doing. Doing this also creates ample opportunity for you to continue pushing off the tasks you do not want to do.
Unfortunately, overcoming our fears is the hardest part. The only advice I can give when it comes to this is just to dive in. We cannot let fear consume our lives and the more we give into it the more likely it is to take over. So, eat that frog! Stop overthinking. Stop letting the anxiety get the better of you. The more you learn to let go of your fears the sooner you will learn to stop pushing off those activities you dread most and the more successful and effective you will be!