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What Is Procrastination And How Do I Manage It?

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, NCC, LPC 

The act of delaying and putting off tasks without any apparent reason is known as procrastination. Tasks may be delayed until the last minute or even when their deadline has already passed. People may feel as though they are delaying doing their work unnecessarily. For example, an individual may have an assignment pending, but instead of doing the actual work, they decide to waste your time on the internet. While they often fully acknowledge the deadline and recognize its importance, they do not do it. This act is known as procrastination. Procrastination can have a negative impact on a person’s academic and professional life. Procrastination is often associated with other issues like poor mental health and elevated stress. 

Why it happens?

Procrastination is not simply a matter of willpower. Often times, it is more complex than that. When we are faced with a task which we must complete on time, we must then find the motivation or willingness to get it done. While the word motivation is frequently tossed around, motivation itself can be scarce. A person cannot expect to simply wake up and feel pulled to complete a task. Anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and chronic fatigue are all-the-more common in present society and each can make it almost impossible to become motivated. Depressed people are more likely to procrastinate as compared to normal individuals. Depression stimulates feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, sadness, and even anger which makes completion of even simple tasks very difficult. These feelings are further worsened when the task is regarded as unpleasant. Depressed people also have a tendency to experience increased self-doubt; thus, they are more likely to pull away from doing work because they have little confidence in their abilities.  

Many adults who suffer from ADHD also face struggles with procrastination. When external stimuli influence an individual to the extent that they cannot pay attention to simple tasks, then procrastination can make things even worse. When we are so disturbed by external stimuli that we cannot get started on a task, then how are we expected to complete it on time? 

Other reasons:

Exhaustion can also lead to procrastination because we do not have enough energy to complete the tasks. In addition, long gaps between completion of tasks and getting rewards can also leads to delaying the tasks unnecessarily. If a person relies on extrinsic motivation like positive reinforcement (praise, gifts, good grades, etc.) and does not receive said positive reinforcement, motivation can dwindle and procrastination ensues. 

How to overcome it

There are many ways to increase self-control and mitigate the effects of procrastination, but it can take some time if you have developed a habit if delaying your tasks. The following are some tips for controlling procrastination:

Small tasks

One of the biggest problems in delaying tasks to the last minute is ending up with a boat load of work. We should set realistic goals for ourselves and draw firm boundaries including a hard start and hard stop time. 

Reward system:

Create a reward system like 30 minutes of TV time or eating your favorite snack after you complete an assignment or a specific increment of time on said assignment. This reward system is highly motivating and it can make even boring tasks fun, even mirroring a game. 

Stop making excuses:

We all have a tendency to make excuses in order to avoid doing unpleasant tasks. When you catch yourself making such excuses, pause for a minute and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself whether or not it is really necessary to “get in the mood” to complete a task or is your procrastination simply getting the best of you? Remind yourself that discipline and self-control can replace motivation and with willpower and the right attitude, you can get anything done. 

If you or someone you know is struggling to complete daily tasks, please reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today! 

References

  1. Prem R, Scheel TE, Weigelt O, Hoffmann K, KorunkaC. Procrastination in daily working life: A diary study on within-person processes that link work characteristics to workplace procrastinationFront Psychol. 2018;9:1087. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01087
  2. https://solvingprocrastination.com/why-people-procrastinate/
  3. Altgassen M, Scheres A, Edel MA. Prospective memory (partially) mediates the link between ADHD symptoms and procrastinationAtten Defic Hyperact Disord. 2019;11(1):59-71. doi:10.1007/s12402-018-0273-x
  4. https://divethru.com/how-to-overcome-procrastination-7-tips-to-get-going/
  5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/better-perfect/201703/11-ways-overcome-procrastination
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