why do we procrastinate?

Why do we procrastinate?

Generally, we procrastinate because the task we are putting off is unpleasant or uninteresting. Either we don’t like doing it, or there is a deep physical discomfort when we think about doing it. But by putting off the task or even tasks at hand, it can lead to other issues. The fact that most of use will be looking for delayed gratification, sensation-seeking from things like social media – is there any bigger thief of time?

Social Psychology shows us that the issues that can arise include –

Bad Reputation

Especially from a career perspective, if you are consistently not completing particular tasks, then you will become known as being lazy or even incompetent. Not only can this affect your job but also your personal life, it may even mean that your boss or partner might ask other people to complete tasks since they are considered more reliable.

Cluttered Life, Cluttered Mind

Usually there are underlying issues with procrastination, if you are putting things off, then it could mean that you are losing your motivation, feeling depressed and need to find that spark. In turn, as a part of the defense mechanism, you will lose motivation for housework, work or even day to day tasks. It’s not unusual that people who procrastinate often have a lot of clutter around including books, newspapers and notebooks.

Bad For Morale

Procrastination is a slippery slope when you know a job has to be completed, and by the end of the day it still hasn’t been done, it can cause you to feel down. From day to day you keep bypassing tasks, and these steadily mount up, the stress of an increasing workload leads to more depression. In turn, you’ll see a drop in morale and decreased productivity.

Does procrastination serve any purpose?

Sometimes procrastinating isn’t a conscious decision, a particular job just never gets done, even though you never consciously decided not to do them. At other times you do decide not to complete a job, you just put it off. We can either lie to ourselves, with a ‘planning fallacy’ that we are definitely planning – but we never ‘do’.

The following tips cover both procrastination and executive functioning which is a set of mental skills that include flexible thinking, memory and self-control. The trouble with executive functioning is that it can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions – the very basis of procrastination!

While there are many ways of trying to combat procrastination such as the ‘Two Minute Rule“, you can save yourself a lot of mental clutter and improve your mental health by following the next ten ways that will help you kick the procrastination habit.

1. Personal Values Development

What do you really want in life? Have you taken time out to find out what your personal values are?  Do you want more money, time, better health or connection with family? When we procrastinate its often because what we are planning to do isn’t aligned with what we want in life or career.  Try and find the time to journal, meditate or contemplate and learn what you really want in life. Instead of sensation seeking, focus on achievement orientation, maybe try goal setting?

2. Make health and high energy levels a priority

When we neglect our mental health, usually our physical health follows. Without good health, we have less energy and intrinsic motivation to make those positive changes in our lives, and instead, it’s far easier to procrastinate.  By looking after your diet, sleeping well, meditating and exercise, you’ll see positive changes in your mental outlook.

3. Visualize your life without procrastination

Think about the benefits in your life if you didn’t procrastinate, what could you achieve if you didn’t procrastinate? How many minutes or hours a week do you waste due to executive functioning – putting off that task or not trying to reach your potential? Write down, draw, journal, use affirmations to guide you and follow these tips!

4. Reprogram your mind

How many times have you said to yourself, “I am not in the mood,” I don’t have the time” or “I can’t do this,”?  The language we use programs our mind, by using negative terms we negatively impact our lives. We can cognitively reprogram our minds by changing the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’ with ‘want to’ and ‘get it done’. Acknowledge your choices and reprogram your mindset. Using affirmations is a simple way to remove negative choices and put you straight back on the positive paths.

5. Over-commitment

Don’t overstretch yourself, by saying ‘yes’ to everything it will leave you tired, without energy or focus. This is when procrastination and return. Instead, learn time management, identify what is most important to you and only focus on those areas which make the biggest difference to your life. In turn this will enhance your motivation and focus.

6. Set personal and professional goals

If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how can you motivate yourself? It’s hard to motivate yourself when you don’t have a good idea of what you want to accomplish. A great way of setting goals is using the SMART strategy.

S = specific

M = measurable

A= Action

R = Realistic

T = Time based

Realistic goals are achievable goals; unrealistic goals are just dreams. Be honest in your evaluation of your life and goals, and then set goals that can be reached but not impossible.

7. Prioritize Your Goals

A good schedule or plan is a great way to identify when goals need to completed and whether some elements need to be included or enhanced or dropped completely. Always be flexible, revisit your goals regularly and if appropriate change or drop the goal if needed. Your schedule isn’t set in stone – a bit like life but it’s great to have goals to achieve and feel positive once completed.

8. Divide and conquer

When you have prioritised your goals, divide them into smaller chunks. When we procrastinate sometimes this is due to a project’s scale which may seem large and overwhelming. Approach each project, especially the big ones on a step by step basis so that you can begin to traction and how far you are along your journey.

9. Reward yourself

When scheduling your tasks, think about how you can reward yourself if you complete the task – go for out for coffee? Have a cheeky snack? Or is the goal the reward? Little rewards are a great way to encourage you to complete even the most laborious task!

10. Just get started

No excuses don’t put it off for another day. That is the problem you are trying to solve. Start with the easiest goal or project so that you can experience the immediate success that will in turn give you the fuel and motivation to take on larger projects.

If you want to beat procrastination and give yourself a more productive and positive life, just complete any of the above and you will have taken the first step on stopping procrastination.