Avoiding Procrastination: Strategies for Developers

Prior to tackling the problem at hand, it is crucial that we establish a shared comprehension of what it entails. As per online sources, procrastination can be described as “the act of delaying or postponing something”. This definition aptly captures the notion or thought pattern of desiring to defer a task, despite its importance and potential future advantages. When we allow ourselves to be convinced that deferring a task is acceptable, that’s when procrastination sets in.

So, what makes us delay tasks? Let’s delve into some reasons for this behaviour.

  1. You find the task at hand unexciting.

    Procrastination often inhibits us from pursuing activities that could bring us immense personal satisfaction. It’s ironic how the very tasks we tend to put off, are often the ones that can provide us with the most rewarding outcomes. We tend to overlook these pursuits, despite them usually being the most challenging. It’s worth reflecting on why we do this.

    It’s understandable that when attempting to achieve a significant objective, one may not fully comprehend the scope of the task and have insufficient motivation to succeed. According to behavioural scientist BJ Fogg from Stanford University, our brains tend to prioritize immediate rewards over those in the future. This implies that we subconsciously value present gratification over potential future benefits.

    As one embarks on their programming journey, it’s important to recall where they began. When initially writing code, it’s common to have grand expectations that the program will be ready to launch to millions of users in a few weeks. However, the development process may take several months. Starting with smaller milestones such as developing a great user interface with HTML and CSS is an excellent way to achieve those goals and become a respected software developer.

    If you struggle to stay motivated while working on a project, consider breaking down the work into smaller, achievable segments. This will enable you to focus on one task at a time and stay on track. Seek assistance from teachers, peers, and other developers with similar project experience if you struggle to grasp the requirements.

    Upon a clear understanding of the necessary steps and the approach required to achieve your ultimate goal, you can reward yourself for accomplishing each stage. Choose a practical and attainable reward that will motivate you throughout your journey. Reward yourself with something satisfactory as you accomplish each mini-goal that will highlight each level of accomplishment and bring you closer to achieving your ultimate objective.

    If one doesn’t comprehend the implications of rewarding themselves, the prize serves as a form of immediate gratification. This type of small accomplishment is something our brain constantly strives to achieve without our awareness. This explains the “Trigger-> Task -> Celebration” concept.

    It’s evident that the task at hand serves as a motivator. What could be the reason behind this unusual phenomenon? One could choose to reward oneself with small, immediate rewards upon accomplishing each task, which will stimulate the brain to attain the prize and concentrate on the activity that prompted it. The action taken is the effort exerted in completing the task, and the reward is the feeling of satisfaction derived from achieving it. The celebration is the treat received once the job is done. A piece of chewing gum, a favourite food, a cup of coffee or a video game would suffice as a form of mini-celebration.
  2. The fear of failure holds us back.

    We are all too familiar with the tendency to procrastinate when facing a task that carries a risk of failure. The uncertainty creates apprehension, drains our enthusiasm, and convinces us that it’s better to delay the task than tackle it head-on. However, avoidance behaviour is self-defeating as it denies us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and grow.

    Reflect on your first venture into software engineering and the challenges you encountered since then. It’s impossible to progress without experiencing some form of failure. The key to recovery is to bounce back from such experiences quickly and effectively.

    It’s natural to be overwhelmed by the fear of failure and the potential negative repercussions. However, it’s important to embrace failure as a valuable opportunity for growth. Failure is a chance to learn and try again.

    Silicon Valley start-ups have a simple philosophy: if something doesn’t work, try something else quickly.
  3. We are unsure of how to begin.

    It can be challenging to determine what’s required to complete a task successfully. Failing to identify the requirements early enough affords us with an excuse for any shortcomings. It’s crucial to acknowledge that we all have the same amount of time each day and hence, developing efficient routines and habits is necessary to optimise our time.

    As software engineers, we often encounter complex problems requiring creative solutions. We may be tasked with building upon the work of esteemed colleagues and be unsure how to access their materials.

    Collaborating with mentors, engineers, and more experienced developers is an excellent way to gain insights into breaking down complex processes effectively. It helps avoid feeling overwhelmed or stuck and identifies a starting point quickly.

    Through this discussion, I believe we now comprehend the causes of procrastination and the necessary steps to overcome it.

Productivity plays a vital role in an individual’s success and the company’s growth. It’s crucial to understand that the time taken to complete a task has a significant impact on business outcomes. If a job that could be completed in two days by an employee with similar qualifications takes a week to finish, it can negatively affect their employment and the company’s profitability. Fighting against inefficiency is necessary to prevent such consequences.

Given the nature of your profession, it’s essential to commence work on that large-scale project without any delay. As a highly-skilled software developer, your primary responsibility is to identify and resolve issues for your clients. Regardless of your motivation to pursue a career in software development, the key takeaway is to be able to come up with solutions.

To overcome procrastination and accomplish our objectives, it’s beneficial to develop habits of rewarding ourselves for hard work, accepting failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, and striving for clarity in our actions even when outcomes are uncertain. Such practices can aid us in our efforts to combat procrastination and find success.

Check out our related article: “7 Strategies for Supervisors to Improve the Efficiency of Their Remote Employees”

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