Has it ever happened to you that having a big assignment due next week and a long list of domestic chores, you find yourself baking a cake, scrolling the social media vortex, or exploring new Netflix series? Many of us have been there – procrastination is a part of humans’ nature.
Although initially it may feel good, it gets worse as tasks are piling on while we are still squandering the time (although we know that we should not!). Missing important deadlines, failing to pay bills on time, putting redecoration of your house off, delaying with helping your kid to do their homework will surely put a strain on your relationships, work, and general mental well-being.
What prompts procrastination?
|False assumptions||“I’ll be done quickly; I still have lots of time to finish.”|
|Awaiting motivation||“I need to be inspired first!”
“Where is this boundless zest?”
|Task aversiveness||“Ugh! This task is so grueling / dull.” “No instant rewards? Can’t be bothered.”|
|Irrational beliefs||“I’m not good enough.” “I can’t live up to expectations.” “What if I get rejected?”|
|Low self-efficacy / self-esteem||“I won’t succeed anyway.”|
|Depressive mood||“That’s daunting; I just don’t have any energy in me to do stuff.”|
|Distractibility and proneness to boredom||“I can’t stay focused!” “This is too tedious to do now.”|
|Poor organization skills||“I find it so hard to set goals for myself and plan tasks in advance.”|
|A lack of motivation for striving and achieving||“The whole process to get there is just too joyless.”|
|A gap between intentions and undertaken actions||“I wanted to do so many things, but couldn’t act on them.”|
|Time pressure||“With the deadline looming, I finally feel like starting.”|
|Overwork||“I’m so snowed under with work, don’t know if I’m coming or going anymore!”|
To all the procrastinators out there – the following methods could be a good starting point for breaking out your habit:
- Recognise what you are afraid of – failing or succeeding. Dealing with your reasons could already be helpful with getting the ball rolling.
- Prepare a to-do list and mark any essential deadlines as well as time needed to complete every task.
- Break tasks down into more doable smaller parts – do things step by step.
- Learn to recognise creeping into your mind temptation to procrastinate and try not to succumb. Push yourself a little, just a few minutes extra spent on a given task.
- Set some time during which all your attention is directed onto a particular task and any Facebook-like distractions are kept out of reach.
- Do not forget to reward yourself for having done the good work. Take a break, unwind, and do something you fancy.
Importantly, remember that procrastination can be dealt with and you are not alone!
- Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: a meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological bulletin, 133(1), 65-94. Doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.65.