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 engage in activities we love solely. That is why procrastination is a comfortable way to deal with unpleasant tasks, perfectly capturing the allure of avoiding these undesirable and unwelcome responsibilities.
- 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 essential presentation for your office, applying for a new job, going to the gym or starting a new diet, making an important decision, or saving money.
Even if you know, you should have started yesterday, a week, 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 genuinely productive ones.
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 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 delaying, you do nothing but steal from your valuable time, which restricts your potential and undermines your productivity. You can consider procrastination a killer of opportunities, which will never go hand in hand with taking proactive steps to achieve your goals.
WHAT IS THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND PROCRASTINATION?
Procrastination relates to how our brain works and the more profound 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 current 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 your present self so much, but over time, they will negatively affect your future self-health. Did you get the idea? This is why people who are more connected 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, it is easy to envision long-term benefits. Still, it is more difficult to take actions with long-term rewards. You can say your brain is playing with you in 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 that 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 more leisurely 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 more accessible, and are short-term, and leave aside the much more important ones that 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, you can have the fear of doing things too well and being swamped with requests of doing more tasks.
When you need to accomplish a task that does not resonate with you, and you find it aversive or complicated, it 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 deadline makes you feel more ashamed and guilty.
LACK OF MOTIVATION
Everybody loves rewards. But when you deal with an unpleasant, tedious, or meaningless task that does not offer you an immediate reward, you lose all the motivation to do that task, and your work will not be done quickly or efficiently.
The people aiming for perfection avoid doing specific tasks that do not concord with their skills because they know they will not be able to do it at their perfection. In their opinion, they prefer to delay finishing the task than to leave it imperfect.
The temptations are all over the place when you have access to a lot of information and options and can make many decisions, especially when they are just one click away (social media, YouTube videos, TV). So, if bad choices surround you, you will also make a wrong choice.
LACK OF SELF-DISCIPLINE
When you do not understand what is essential and what priority, jumping from one task to another is very easy; if the task does not match your natural motivator, which gives you productive emotions and makes you take action, it will lead you not to get things done correctly. Get your discipline sorted, and your work will be more efficient.
KICK OUT THE PROCRASTINATION WITH 10 SIMPLE TIPS
RECOGNIZE THE PROCRASTINATION
Whenever you tend to procrastinate, be aware of the trigger and identify the reasons behind your behavior. It will be easier for you to plan a strategy to overcome it.
START WITH THE BEST TASK
There are always fewer pleasant tasks on the to-do list, which is why it will cost you to start with them. This tip is atypical of the usual recommendation. In this case, create a to-do list with the best task for you, the low-hanging fruit task you enjoy, and it is not daunting. The beginning is always more complex, and the first 10 minutes are crucial to start getting focused. When you start with the easier task you enjoy, carrying on with the rest of the functions will be positive and less overwhelming.
LEAVE SOMETHING INCOMPLETE
If you usually prefer to finish only when all the work is done, this accomplishment will make it harder for you to start the work the next day. But it is surprisingly effective when you leave a task unfinished because you will have the urge to jump straight into work the next day. 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—You can use these moments to deal with the tasks that you find more challenging. 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 you and show you that you have no choice, it is better to use words such as I can do; I want to do, I choose to do. It will encourage you and help you focus on the task’s meaningful aspects.
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 stronger the connection will become, and the more careful you will be in making current decisions.
It will be challenging, especially when a task is tedious and frustrating and does not bring you any short-term benefits. Even if you handle the task one part at a time, always treat yourself with little pleasures when you finish. It will make your work more pleasant and efficient, and you will notice how good it feels when things are done. Rewarding yourself will spur you to achieve even more.
BREAKDOWN THE TASK
When a task requires more time and seems overwhelming, you will feel anxious even before starting. Detach yourself from the feeling about the task and focus on creating an action rather than 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 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, you can always crush or kick it out of your behavior. The release from procrastination depends on knowing one’s psychology and one’s behavior.
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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.
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Till next time…
Manage To Do All By Doing Things Promptly!
Founder of Dare & Be.