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Procrastination: How to Deal With It

Procrastination: How to Deal With It
Written by Medhaavi Mishra

Postponing things until a certain point is considered normal, so we avoid unnecessary fuss.

A serious sign is when important issues are put off continuously and for a long time: going to the doctor, choosing a university and profession, creating a family. Postponement can turn into a normal, “working” state in which a person spends most of his or her time. Everything important is put off “for later”, and when deadlines pass, a person either refuses to do what is planned, or tries to do everything “in a jerk”, in an impossible short period of time. This leads to trouble at work, missed opportunities, dissatisfaction of others and health problems.

Procrastination is putting off things “for later,” “for tomorrow,” “for Monday,” avoiding important decisions.

How Procrastination Manifests Itself

A variety of forms of this psychological phenomenon also refers to a fear of risk and drawing up grandiose unrealizable plans.

Procrastination manifestations can be reduced to six forms that help avoid problems and postpone solutions:

  • Doing nothing. The basis is childhood problems, unwillingness to grow up, infantilism. Unformed skills of self-regulation, control. Here it’s necessary to be firm.
  • Over-adaptation. The person lives for others – and does everything not to live for oneself, not to realize one’s own purposes and desires. Rescuer. Here it is important to understand what this gives. Maybe it enhances one’s own worth?
  • Agitation (excitement). Engaging in everything but what needs to be done. Avoidance. Here it is important to understand what fears the person has about important decisions.
  • Aggression. Everyone around me is to blame for not doing anything. Failure to recognize one’s mistakes.
  • A spirit of contradiction. Especially if there is a command “from above” to do something or not to do it. Sabotage as a passive protest. Parents, bosses, partners or friends may demand something they cannot do.
  • Helplessness. I am not worthy, I cannot do anything. Sacrifice. I won’t be able to do anything anyway. Low self-esteem. Learned helplessness.

Why Procrastination Arises

At the conscious level, we set goals that relate to work and career, self-development, personal life, health and family.

For the unconscious, our goals are “useless” work, outbursts of negative emotions, hard experiences, thoughts, burdens, getting out of our comfort zone. Resistance arises – a protective function of the body, the instinct of self-preservation.

Sometimes the resistance is overcome, sometimes not. The reasons for too much resistance and procrastination can be the following:

  • Fear of the champion. Much has been done, one step left, but what’s next?
  • Fear of change. What if it turns into more problems for me, more responsibility?
  • Low self-esteem, lack of confidence that everything will work out. Is it worth the investment? Maybe a bird in the hand is better than a crane in the sky?
  • Fear of being embarrassed. Fear of getting a blow to the ego.
  • Secondary benefits. What have I got to lose if I get what I want?
  • Intrapersonal conflict. And I want, and itch, and my mother does not tell.
  • Choosing between equal options. The Buridan donkey effect.
  • Another reason for procrastination is the choice between negative options. What will or won’t.
  • A traumatic negative experience. It already happened and did not end well, is it worth it to start?
  • Programming significant others. Only those who know everything in sports will succeed at betting via 20Bet anyway.
  • Convincing others and self-belief. Why do you need this?
  • Self-identifying with a standard. As he/she is, I still can’t do it.
  • Self-punishment. I’m not worthy, that’s what I need.

Identifying your fears and conflicts without a psychologist is difficult, but you can answer five questions that will show if you have any of these difficulties.

How to Identify the Causes of Procrastination 

Procrastination in simple terms is a complex psychological and behavioral phenomenon, closely related to the motivational sphere of personality. If you are sabotaging some action or decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you really want it? Do you really need it?
  • Is it worth pursuing? What is your motivation to do it?
  • Is it achievable? How realistic is it to your level of ability, your competence?
  • Does it make life better or harder? What does it do for me and my loved ones?
  • Is it deserved?

When you are convinced that you are putting something important off and have tried to figure out the reasons why, you can begin to fight procrastination.

How to Reduce Procrastination: The Important and Urgent Method

Within the discipline of Time management, there are a number of techniques that can reduce procrastination, reduce stress, increase real work output and life satisfaction.

To reduce the level of procrastination, the authors of the method suggest dividing all matters by two criteria: importance and urgency. Thus, there are only four categories of cases that take time.

Important and urgent. These are urgent matters – an emergency, an illness, a deadline, a life-threatening family crisis.

When doing important and urgent things, you should remember that it is all done for “important and non-urgent” life goals, and be aware of which ones:

  • I work because I want to buy a house.
  • I study Spanish with a tutor, because I want to improve my professional level.
  • I visit a psychologist because I want to have healthy relationships in my family.
  • I go to the dentist to have a tooth extracted because my health is important to me.

Important and non-urgent. These are life goals, plans, important tasks that give meaning to life. These are the things that have the greatest impact on a person’s life as a whole, with procrastination primarily affecting them.

The unimportant and the urgent. These are the everyday little things, such as cleaning (you can hire a home helper), long conversations on the phone with mom, going to the store (you can order delivery), checking email and news on social media, and guests on the weekends. The unimportance of these things does not mean that they can all be done at all. But you need to realize that they are not too essential, and they can be abandoned in favor of cases in the first and second category.

Unimportant and non-urgent. This is a category of daily chores that contribute very little to the quality of life, or not at all, but take up time. These cases are when a person does not know which direction is best: answering all the phone calls, chatting with relatives during work hours, lingering tea parties, business and personal spam, blogs, playing cards, sitting around until late at night.

How to Cope With Procrastination

Procrastination is a habit, a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. It’s hard to change in one day, so you need to be willing to work on it for a long time and, ideally, write down all the changes. Habits stop being habits when you avoid repeating them.

Here are nine steps for dealing with procrastination.

Observe what you spend your time on. Write down the schedule of your day today, yesterday, the day before, the week before.

Make a note of what category these things fall into: important and urgent, unimportant and non-urgent, and so on.

See what can be done without, what can be delegated, what can be replaced by more important tasks.

Divide tasks into stages, big tasks into parts.

Reframe your internal dialogue. Replace the phrases “must” and “should”, implying that you have no choice, with the phrase “I choose”. By doing this, you show that you own the situation, and that it’s important to do this first and foremost for you.

Making a new schedule is another important step to combat procrastination. Take some time to do this. When your to-do list is clear, even putting something off, you’re still doing useful work. You can make the list by ranking things by priority, but you don’t have to do things in an order of importance; you can do what’s easier first. Transfer all plans to external media – paper, Wordov files, a calendar or special task apps. This will relieve your brain.

Allocate time for delays and rest. You need to learn how to distribute your energy so that everything you have planned can be accomplished without tiring yourself out. Know how to balance work and rest. Find a balance and optimal pace of life that allows you to remain calm and serene.

Tell your friends and family about your important plans. Ask someone to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle of self-help groups.

Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a treat, like a piece of cake or coffee at your favorite cafe. And be sure to note how good it feels to have completed the task!

About the author

Medhaavi Mishra