Procrastination becomes our refuge when confronted with challenging, frustrating, ambiguous, or purposeless tasks that lack our passion and interest. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the fortune to solely engage in activities we love. That is why, procrastination is the comfy way to deal with unpleasant tasks, which perfectly captures the allure of avoiding these undesirable and unwelcome responsibilities.
“Current day negative effect is a significant predictor of next day procrastination.”
- A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF PROCRASTINATION
- WHAT IS THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND PROCRASTINATION?
- WHAT TRIGGERS THE PROCRASTINATION BEHAVIOR?
- KICK OUT THE PROCRASTINATION WITH 10 SIMPLE TIPS
- FINAL THOUGHTS
A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF PROCRASTINATION
When the tasks are dreadful for us, 95% of us strive to avoid and delay them as much as possible, deliberately choosing pleasure over pain. Does it sound familiar to you?
For example, you postpone writing an important presentation for your office, applying for a new job, going to the gym or starting a new diet, making an important decision, or start saving money.
Even if you know you should have started yesterday, a week ago, or even a month ago, you keep resorting to this sneaky avoidance leaving things unsolved until the last moment. You prefer to deal with other more enjoyable, easier, and less efficient activities, than to perform the important and truly productive ones.
“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Druker.
If you act against your better judgment because you choose to do so, you can consider yourself a natural procrastinator.
“I will do it later, I am not in the mood for that now.”
“I will start on Monday.”
“Tomorrow will be a better day to start.”
“Just another five minutes’ and I will be ready for work.”
If you also use this type of delaying, you do nothing but steal from your valuable time, which restricts your potential and undermines your productivity. You can consider procrastination as a killer of opportunities, which will never go hand in hand with taking proactive steps in achieving your goals.
WHAT IS THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND PROCRASTINATION?
Procrastination is related to how our brain works and to the deeper perception of time and the self: the future and the present. According to behavioral psychology research, the perception of information about the present and future self is made with different parts of the brain.
When you make long-term decisions you do not have an emotional connection or feel empathy for your future self, because your focus is on your present self. Even if you know that the present self is the same person as the future self, you treat your future self as a different one, who will not suffer from the consequences of your present actions.
For example, your present self does not have a healthy lifestyle. Does not eat healthy food, exercise, or get enough sleep. All these unhealthy actions will not affect so much your present self, but over time, will bring consequences to your future self-health. Did you get the idea? This is the reason why people who are more in connection with their future selves have fewer procrastination behaviors.
Another theory behind procrastination is that the human brain tends to overvalue the immediate benefits over future ones. When you think about the future and set goals, your brain accepts easier decisions that lead to long-term benefits. But it does not happen the same when you have to take action in the present, because your brain wants short-term benefits.
So, you choose immediate benefits instead of productive behaviors because mentally is easy to vision long-term benefits, but comes more difficult to take actions with long-term rewards. You can say your brain is playing with you in terms of setting future goals and taking present actions.
WHAT TRIGGERS THE PROCRASTINATION BEHAVIOR?
INSTANT GRATIFICATION MONKEY
Unlike the “Monkey Mind” which is restless and with thoughts all over the places, future, and past, but less present, the “Instant Gratification Monkey” is the analogy, as Tim Urban says, of the disturbing creature which creates trouble, and makes you lose your focus, but who thinks only of the present and how can maximize ease and pleasure at the moment.
That is why it does not understand the rational decision maker (to visualize the big picture of the future, to make long-term plans), and prefers easier activities, bringing more fun and present rewards. In procrastinators, the instant gratification monkey is more powerful and takes control, than in people who are more patient and wise.
When you have doubts about your abilities, you seek comfort in doing tasks that you know you are capable of, are easier, and with short-term, and you leave aside the much more important ones which could create difficulty for you.
FEAR OF FAILURE & FEAR OF SUCCESS
The lack of Self-Confidence will always lead to fear of failure. Sometimes, the fear of failure and fear of success go hand in hand placing you at the opposite pols: if you can have the fear that you are not good enough to do an important task, as well you can have the fear of doing things too well and being swamped with requests of doing more tasks.
” You do not get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” – Jerry West
When you need to accomplish a task that does not resonate with you, and you find it aversive or complicated, makes you nervous, and can cause anxiety or despair. That is why you choose other activities for quick mood repair, which makes you feel better temporarily. In most cases, delaying the task until the moment of the deadline makes you feel more ashamed and more guilty.
LACK OF MOTIVATION
Everybody loves rewards. But when you deal with an unpleasant, boring, or meaningless task, which even does not offer you an immediate reward, makes you lose all the motivation of doing that task, and your work will not be done at all quickly or efficiently.
The people who are aiming for perfection avoid doing specific tasks that are not in concordance with their skills because they know will not be able to do it at their perfection. They prefer to delay in finishing the task than to leave it imperfect in their opinion.
The temptations are all over the place when you have access to a lot of information and a lot of options, and when you can make a lot of decisions, especially when they are just one click away (social media, Youtube videos, TV). So, if you are surrounded by bad choices, then you will make a bad choice as well.
LACK OF SELF-DISCIPLINE
When you do not understand what is important and what priority, is very easy to jump from one task to another. If the task does not match with your natural motivator which gives you productive emotions and makes you take action, will lead you to not get things done properly. Get your discipline sorted, and your work will be more efficient.
KICK OUT THE PROCRASTINATION WITH 10 SIMPLE TIPS
RECOGNIZE THE PROCRASTINATION
Every time you notice that you tend to procrastinate in performing a task, be aware of the trigger, identify the reasons behind your behavior, and it will be easier for you to plan a strategy to overcome it.
START WITH THE BEST TASK
There be always fewer pleasant tasks on the to-do list, which is why will cost you to start with them. This tip is atypical of the usual recommendation. In this case start a to-do list with the best task for you, the low-hanging fruit task, which you enjoy and is not daunting to you. The beginning is always harder, and the first 10 minutes are crucial to start getting focused. When you start with the easier task that you enjoy doing, it will be positive and less overwhelming to carry on with the rest of the tasks.
LEAVE SOMETHING INCOMPLETE
If you normally prefer to finish only when all the work is done, this accomplishment will make to be for you harder to start the work the next day. But it is surprisingly effective when you leave a task unfinished because the next day you will have the urge to leap straight into work. It is tested, and it works.
THE PEAK TIME IS THE KEY
You have probably noticed that you have moments during the day when your efficiency reaches maximum levels. These moments you can use to deal with the tasks that you find more difficult to accomplish. Productivity yield will amaze you.
USE THE SELF-TALK
The internal dialog has a strong efficiency if used correctly. Instead of using phrases like “I need to”, and “I have to”, which only limit yourself and show you that you have no choice, it is better to use phrases like “I can do”, “I want to do”, “I choose to do”. It will encourage you and will help you to focus on the meaningful aspects of the task.
LOVE YOUR FUTURE SELF
The more you think about the consequences that your future self will suffer due to the negligence of your present actions, the more strong the connection will become, and the more careful you will be in making present decisions.
“A year from now, you may wish you had started today.”- Karen Lamb
Especially when a task for you is boring, frustrating, and does not bring you any short-term benefits, it will be difficult for you to start with. Even if you handle the task one part at a time always treat yourself with little pleasures when you finish and will make your work more pleasant, and efficient and you will notice how good it feels when you have the things done. Rewarding yourself will spur you to achieve even more.
BREAKDOWN THE TASK
When a task requires more time and seems to be overwhelming for you, you will feel anxious even before starting. Detach yourself from the feeling about the task, and focus on starting an action rather than on finishing it. Break down the task into small steps, and set a minute deadline for each step. Every small action is considered progress, and with every tiny progress, your self-confidence will increase.
SHARE THE TASK
A difficult task for you seems even more difficult when you have to do it alone. Commit yourself to doing the task with another person. Sharing the task will not only become much easier to accomplish, but it will be even more enjoyable, and the risk of skipping it will decrease because you do not want to look like a liar or a jerk to the other person.
REMOVE THE DISTRACTIONS
The more chances you have of being distracted when you work by this never-ending loop (writing emails, checking social media, watching TV or a video on Youtube, reading different web pages, or being interrupted by someone), the greater the risk of losing interest and focus is. Remove all the temptations and create a safe space for work with a better choice to get things done on time.
It is easy to get trapped in this sneaky behavior, and even though it seems to be a never-ending cycle, always you can crush or kick it out of your behavior. The release from procrastination depends on knowing one’s psychology and one’s behavior.
Try to find a meaningful understanding of the meaningless tasks, bring more fun to the boring ones, and find a way to make your present self see the wisdom of doing things in the now, for the best of the future you.
If you enjoyed reading the article, why not spread the word? Let us know any suggestions you have, and feel free to share your experience in the comment below.
Till next time…
Manage To Do All, By Doing Things Promptly!
~ Diana O. Debreczeni ~
Founder of Dare & Be.
A great article regarding procrastination and a tricky one to control for a lot of people no matter what their background. I am one who suffers from this but is consciously trying to conquer. Therefore I am grateful to have read this article because it explains a lot about things I need to change in my habits to get better in my life. Thanks again!
It is good to see you here. Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad that the article gave you a little clarity regarding certain changes you need to make in your habits.
I also believe that this program, 40 days to positive change, which I recommend with confidence, will give you the appropriate guidance for changing negative habits. Just have a look and tell me what you think about.
The topic of procrastination always mesmerize me. I read it somewhere that the brain is telling you to procrastinate because it is the way that your brain can de-stress itself so you will fall into the different episodes of anxiety or panic attacks. I know it because I experience that from time to time since I live in NYC.
But, personally I find that I always come up with some new ideas after my procrastination always.
We all procrastinate in one way or another, or at least everyone goes through a phase of procrastination. But as long as we are aware that we want to procrastinate, and find our own ways to overcome it, we are on the right track. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Hello there!….this is a wonderful and a well written article I’m so glad I came across it …..the necessary motivation to induce over procastination once and for all will solemnly come from within and also from the right kind of things ,books and articles you listen to.
To defeat procastination you really need to take charge of your heart, mind and your life
Thank you for your appreciation and input.. Indeed, overcoming procrastination depends on your own mental and behavioral knowledge. If you do this, you will gain self-discipline.
I usually can’t do certain tasks for lack of time. I am lucky not to procrastinate too much, and I usually start my day with the bes tasks that I can get done right away or the most important ones. I have a list of tasks and I mark them off one by one. If for some reason I can’t finish all of them, then I move them to the next day, but the main thing is that I get to finish them, and so far it has worked for me.
The only thing that can sometimes work against me are unwanted distractions, for example the workers who are building a house on a lot across from mine and who often play their (ugly) music really loud for hours on end, that is hard to deal with. It is something I still have to learn to handle …
Thank you for stopping by. It is good to know that you have a disciplined schedule, and you can manage to do all the tasks from your to-do list. This will help you to have a good advance in achieving your objectives.
As for the external distractions, which in this case do not depend on you, you must do a little practice of meditation, which will help you to keep your oasis of peace when there is chaos around you. In other words, you will learn how to stay focused on your tasks, even if you have different annoying sounds around that can distract you.
Just try it. You will see that it works. 😉
Hi there! This is a beautiful write up and I must say I’m glad I came across it. But keep in mind that I am saying this solely as a result of I suffered from a awfully dangerous case of procrastination for years and do not from now on. As a preface, I conjointly wish to emphasize that no advice including mine would assist you unless you really want to build winning this fight your prime priority. The motivation necessary to induce over procrastination once and for all, will solely come from within and the right kind of books you read through. To defeat procrastination, you really need to take charge of your mind and your life. To achieve the success, you are longing for; you need to push yourself to take action. Most importantly, to succeed in anything you wish for, you need to give a head start. Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you for stopping by, and sharing your experience with us. I am glad you found your own ways to eliminate procrastination from your behavior. Indeed, you can’t do this, if you don’t want to push yourself into action, and that means playing little tricks with your mind, making it believe that you really want to do that.☺
Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this great piece of information. I must say I really did enjoyed going through your article as it contains valuable informations one needs to be aware of. I procastinate a lot, I have to admit this, so I took the article very seriously. The way you explained why people tend to procrastinate, and what are the little tricks to get rid of it, is just brilliant. The biggest issue I have is that I get bored quickly when I have to do a task, and then it is difficult for me to keep distractions away. But I will start to make use of your tricks, to see how it goes. Keep doing the great work.
Thank you for your kind words. In many cases the boring tasks push us to procrastinate.Even for me sometimes the tasks can be very boring, but to be honest, I use a lot the internal dialog to push myself into action, and of course, after that I reward myself with a little pleasure. All you have to do is to play with your mind a little. 😄
Also, depending on the type of task you have, you can share to do it with another person. You will see that the task will become more pleasant. Just try it. It works for me.