What Is Procrastination? How To Overcome It?

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Procrastination

Henry Wheeler Shaw (also known as Josh Billings—pen name), a humour writer and lecturer from the United States, once said, “The greatest thief this world has ever produced is procrastination, and he is still at large.”                                  

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It’s Sunday evening, tomorrow is Monday, and you have a proposal to submit to your boss concerning the new products the company is supposed to market to its customers. Still, up until that moment, you haven’t done much. You start cursing under your breath, wishing you had started sooner so you wouldn’t have to go through the amount of stress you are currently passing through.

What went wrong? How did it get to this point? You had the weekend to prepare, so how are you now in this position? In reality, you probably spent Friday evening after work partying with friends, hungover on Saturday. You spent the rest of the day surfing social media, watching Netflix, and doing other things you could have still done if you had learnt time management skills.

Does the scenario above sound similar? Does it look like something you would have done? If it does, then you are not in it alone. What you are suffering from is procrastination, and according to researchers, 95% of us procrastinate to some degree. Even though it may seem comforting to know that you are not going through it alone, realising how much you have done and far you could have gone if only you didn’t keep procrastinating can make you sad.

However, if you are reading this article, you have realised that it’s become a problem, and just like every other problem, you are seeking a solution. If that’s the case, you have made it to the right space, and in this blog post, you’ll learn about procrastination and how to cure procrastination.

What Is Procrastination?

What Is Procrastination

Procrastination is an act of unnecessary delay or refusing to complete tasks until the very last minute and, in the worst-case scenario, when it’s past the deadline. It’s mostly associated with ignoring important tasks simply because they are unpleasant and not enjoyable in favour of one that looks more attractive or is more enjoyable.

Researchers who have researched procrastination define it as a form of self-regulation failure (a core feature of many social and mental health problems) characterized by the illogical delay of tasks despite its potential negative consequences.

The negative consequences of procrastinating can result in the individual feeling ashamed or guilty. If left unchecked, it will ultimately lead to reduced productivity, affecting your financial well-being and reducing your ability to achieve academic and career goals. In worse cases (chronic procrastinating), it could result in depression, failure, or even job loss.

Types Of Procrastination

Types Of Procrastination

The first thing you should know is that laziness is not a type of procrastination. Unfortunately, people often mistake laziness for procrastination when they are different.

Alternatively, laziness is the unwillingness to do anything. In contrast, procrastination is an unresolved desire to avoid conflict. You know you should be doing but find yourself pushing against it (e.g., you are interested in another activity), while the opposite is true. In other words, you cannot differentiate between the Want-Self and the Should-Self when you are torn between impulses. Thus, it becomes tough to choose a clear commitment to action.

However, there are six different types of procrastination. Understanding the category, you fall into will help change how to think and how you speak and act based on that particular type. The six types of procrastination originate from three different types of behaviour; the first two focus on attention to detail, the middle two focus on the future, and the last two focus on relationships with others.

The six different types of procrastination are:

1. Perfectionist: The perfectionist is disinclined to start or finish a task because they pay too much attention to detail and wouldn’t want anything to be out of place.

2. Dreamer: The dreamer isn’t a big fan of details and that makes implementing ideas difficult for them. The dreamer often has beautiful or amazing ideas but become reluctant because of the steps (details) they’d have to take to achieve it; they rather have someone else worry about the details and when that isn’t possible they procrastinate.

3. Worrier: The worrier is always bothered about what could be. You’d often see them worrying about the “what ifs” a lot more than they should. They are too cautious and because of that, they are afraid of doing what needs to be done. This type of procrastinator can be seen as a symbol of stress and anxiety.

4. Crises-maker: The crises-maker loves living on the edge and is addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with it. The crisis-makers believes he works better or thrives under pressure so they often wait for the last minute before performing a task.

5. Defier: The defier is a rebel and often seeks or wants to kick against rules. They enjoy procrastinating and use it as a means to set their own schedule to get things done; one that others can’t control or predict. They often say things like “don’t worry, I’ll do it” but sometimes end up not doing them and when they do, they do it on their own time (not the scheduled time or time frame).

6. Overdoer: The overdoer doesn’t know how to say no and because of that they are unwilling or unable to establish priorities and make choices. The overdoer also suffers from time inconsistency (changes in preferences or taste over time) due to their inability to say no.

Also, note that a person can experience more than a single type of procrastination.

What Are The Causes Of Procrastination?

People procrastinate for various reasons, but in the section, you’ll find some of the most common reasons why people procrastinate.

Some of the most common reasons include:

– Perfectionism

– Fear of criticism

Low self-esteem

– Depression

– ADHD

– Task aversion

– Decision fatigue

– Lack of energy

– Fear of failure

– Avoidance

– Trouble focusing

– Waiting until the last minute

– Resisting challenges

– Difficulty defining goals

How To Stop Procrastinating?

How To Stop Procrastinating

Besides the fact that procrastinating negatively affects you, it can also be stopped, just as any other habit (good or bad). Learning ways to curb procrastination early can improve your mental and physical health.

If you have been struggling with putting things off, you can try the following tips below to get back on track.

1. Perform the task for a few minutes

Whenever you feel like procrastinating, use the Zierganick effect. The effect describes how the human brain becomes active or alert when you start something and stays until you finish it. Consequently, once you start the task, the brain’s drive to complete it will take over, and you will perform the task without stopping until it’s finished. However, it’s a long task or project. It’s not advisable to burn yourself out in the process—in that case. You can take scheduled breaks before continuing with the task.

2. Perform the hard task first

If you have a list of tasks to perform daily where some are harder (in the sense that it requires more concentration and energy) than the others starting the task may become difficult due to the hard tasks. Procrastinate by tackling the difficult tasks when the brain is still active (perhaps in the morning; the brain is at its most alert around 10 am). Once you have completed the harder tasks, you won’t have any trouble tackling the easier ones (requiring little or no energy and concentration).

3. Trust in your ability

Most people procrastinate because of the fear of not succeeding. If you are sure that you have the right knowledge and skills to complete a given task, then trust in that knowledge and skill. Tell yourself things like “you can do it”, believe in your abilities and implement the strategies and skills you have learnt to self-regulate.

4. Manage your environment

Most times, no matter how determined we are to complete a given task, if distractions surround us, the will to carry out the task or see it through reduces greatly. Thus, before working or performing a task, start by managing the environment; you can do that by removing things that are likely to distract you. If you can’t seem to focus after doing that, you can practice mindful meditation to help relax your mind and body.

5. Set a short deadline for yourself

It’s no secret that the longer the deadline of a project or task, the more we procrastinate. Hence, if you want to do essential tasks quickly without procrastinating, set a shorter deadline for yourself. And after completing the task on or before the deadline you set, you be kind to yourself by rewarding yourself with a gift or doing something you enjoy doing to motivate and congratulate yourself.

Conclusion

Overcome Procrastinating- Make it happen

The symptoms of procrastination may seem harmless at first, but if left unchecked, you’ll reach a point where it becomes chronic. Chronic procrastination adversely affects your physical and mental health and your financial well-being, including the loss of your job.

So then, after identifying that you are a procrastinator, what next should you do? Please do not wait until you become a chronic procrastinator. Instead, start implementing steps or strategies to curb them.

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