Personal Growth – How to curb Procrastination!
One trait that we all have in common is that when we start something, we become more inclined to finish it. Thus once we begin a job/task, only in rare situations do we discard it. But for many starting or continue with a job can and is a challenge.
We tend to postpone our tasks and projects till the eleventh hour when our backs are against the wall. Technically or in psychology, we call this procrastination. Looking at it carefully, it is odd when we have a task at hand either important for us or for which client has paid, we delay it and get ourselves occupied in other works. For personal growth and career development, it is important that we overcome this.
While studying about procrastination and to understand it better, we as life coaches, came across another related psychological trait – “Zeigarnik effect”.
A young Russian in 1920s was having tea at a café when she observed a phenomenon which she confirmed could be used to conquer procrastination. The waiters at the café would remember very clearly table wise orders and servings made by them. The uniquely striking observation was that if the same waiters were to recall the orders after they settled the bill with the customer, they could not recollect the order or the serving. It appeared that the act of payment of the bill brought closure to the task in their mind and thus they could not recall correctly.
To confirm this curious phenomenon, Zeigarnik went back to her lab and allotted simple tasks of stacking toys in a box in some order to a group of people and some of them she abruptly stopped halfway while others were allowed to complete. At the end of the experiment, participants were asked to recall the actions/tasks. All those who were stopped midway could remember whereas those who had completed the task couldn’t.
Professor Richard Wiseman, an author of several books on personal growth and development, confirms this research finding as a method to beat procrastination. Procrastinators tend to put off certain things because they are perplexed by the nature or size of the job ahead of them or sometimes they find it too easy to do that they delay it to the last minute possible.
For a particular project, a delay might work and you might be lucky enough to complete it on time. But as a habit, for a task which has to be done repeatedly and in a routine more than motivation is required to overcome the way our brain works and habits are formed. One has to constantly keep on reminding him or herself about the unfinished task to ensure that he or she does not forget it and completes it. This is how waiters were able to remember the unpaid bill tables as getting the payment was important to close the table.
Sometimes all we need is to start and constantly remind ourselves of our new activity because as humans we have this inherent drive to finish a task we have begun. But we only need to pull our mind constantly towards it for initial few days. It is precisely similar to what happens when we get absorbed in some story in a compelling book, a TV show or a movie – “we want to see how the end is.” It may appear cliché, but the first step is always the hardest. And it is the sustained effort which leads to forming a habit and personal growth.
We as life coaches also focus on this aspect as ensuring personal growth through forming habits is critical for us. As writer Ernest Hemingway said about writing a novel: It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
Try this technique for your own personal growth and development too!