Procrastination occurs in all areas of life such as work, household, study, health, financial, family, relationships, self-development and decision making. We postpone things we have to do today to a later moment despite the fact it may lead to negative consequences. This temporary avoidance provides a strange sense of relief even though it is imagined and short lived.
When the task seems to be unpleasant, monotonous or tedious then the mere thought of doing this task causes most to loose all interest, motivation and energy. Thoughts start playing in your mind to justify your behaviour such as “This is so boring, I should just go with my friends to the beach and enjoy the sun”. Having these thoughts lead to the avoidant behavior,as well as, influences your emotional and physical reactions. Sometimes the task is associated with negative feelings such as resentment, anger, fear, despair and embarrassment. By procrastinating you manage to avoid experiencing these negative emotions. Depression, impulsiveness, self- sabotaging and the need to rebel against authority can also encourage procrastination .You might also say to yourself “I am too depressed / stressed/tired/angry to deal with that right now”. These are common thoughts that lead to the putting the tasks off.
Another reason for procrastination may be if task is perceived as too overwhelming and anxiety provoking (e.g. “ I just can’t do it. I am not good enough”)… If you perceive the task as too difficult, beyond your capacities and you have doubts about your ability to complete it to a sufficient or successful level, then you most likely will prefer to avoid confronting that daunting task. This could originate from low self-efficacy, fear of failure, low self-esteem and sometimes from perfectionistic demands that are placed upon the self. Breaking the tasks down, good organization and scheduling deadlines can help reduce the anxiety. With every little completion and success the self- efficacy, motivation and effort will rise. People who procrastinate tend have unhelpful rules and assumptions about themselves. An adjustment and flexibility in your expectations from yourself and the standards that you set yourself, especially if these standards demand perfectionism (e.g. “If I cannot do it perfectly and completely then it is better not do to anything at all”), which are impossible to achieve will also help reduce your procrastination.
Procrastination can also originate from predicting a negative outcome e.g. “It will be a disaster ..”; “If I will fail then people will not respect me anymore”…When the creation of catastrophic scenarios in your mind stop you from taking any action, you can ask yourself 3 questions: What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best? and What’s the most realistic / likely thing to happen? The disastrous thoughts that we have are generally more negative and scary than what could actually happen in reality, thus confronting these scenarios helps reduce anxiety. By verbalizing these thoughts they will get another perspective, become more real and less scary than they seem in your mind. In verbalizing it you will notice that you might use descriptive words such as awkward, embarrassing, boring or bad but not catastrophic,devastating or earth shattering. Shifting the perspective to a less negative one will improve your mood. It will also motivate you to think about the ways in which you can cope with each situation, should it arise. You can plan a strategy that can help you solve a problem and/or prepare yourself emotionally to cope with potential situation and/or you can improve your action plan ahead of time to possibly prevent the situation from occurring in the first place.
Additionally, you will need to challenge yourself by accepting the idea that the discomfort is temporary and will pass in time. You just have to focus on the task at hand and hang on to the belief that you are capable of coping with whatever shall come your way. Your discomfort toleration will increase, as a result the need to pull yourself away from the task will decrease and you will be closer to achieving your goal.
Please feel free to share you thoughts and personal experiences on the topic in the comment area below.