Procrastination is the act of putting off important tasks such as study or work in favour of less essential stuff. So, maybe your essay is due tomorrow, but you decide to use your time to play computer games instead.
We all have a tendency to procrastinate every now and then, but some people can be more likely to procrastinate than others. If you procrastinate often, it can cause serious stress in the long run, as everything is left to the last minute.
Why do people procrastinate?
- They find it tough to organise themselves
- Because they lack confidence that they can get the task done, so they put it off
- Because humans are wired to seek immediate reward before long-term gains. It’s how we evolved.
Anxiety and procrastination
Some people find that when they are feeling anxious about something, they are more likely to procrastinate doing it. This could be around something as simple as picking up a package at the post office, or it could be something bigger. When they start to feel anxious about doing something, they might want to put it off for as long as possible.
Procrastination can also lead to or worsen feelings of anxiety. The more you procrastinate, the worse you might feel about the fact that you’re procrastinating, and the greater your anxiety might become.
It’s best to get to the root of the reason why you’re procrastinating and try to address it. Finding ways to live with your tendency to procrastinate could also help to break this cycle.
How to live with your procrastination tendencies
Some people are more likely to procrastinate than others. If you’re one of those people, here are some things to consider to make it easier to live with your tendency to procrastinate.
Be aware that you are not alone on this one
No matter how efficient your friends and family seem, it is very likely that they have procrastinated at some stage too.
Use some handy anti procrastination tools
You might enjoy a disconnect tool. This is an application/programme that disconnects your internet for up to eight hours and thus allows you to focus on your work without being tempted to check your Twitter every five minutes.
Be aware of what you need to work efficiently
For example, some people absolutely cannot study or work in silence. If they try to work without music or radio, their procrastination will only worsen and they won’t get anything done. On the other hand, maybe music distracts you and you are better off working in silence. Only you know the answer to this one.
Give yourself a specified amount of time
Some people like to set their phone alarm to go off in twenty-minute chunks of time. This means that they have a nice break to look forward to when it goes off, but before then they will simply be working. Cutting work down into bite sized chunks like this seems to help many people become more efficient, as they are not facing three hours without a break, but are instead getting a lot of work done in short bursts.
Start with the roughest task first
The natural inclination is to go with the easiest task first, but many people find that getting the tough one out of the way first makes life easier. Try it and see if it works for you.
This is a biggie and many people find it motivating. The reward can be as cheap and simple as a bath or it can be as extravagant as a trip away. It depends on your finances and the extent of the task.
If you are finding it hard to focus, declutter your desk or computer screen. Being neat and organised can focus your mind on the specific task at hand.
Take short breaks
Step away from the desk for a short time. it will help clear your head and get your mind ready for some focused study or work.
Make sure that there are consequences of not following through
Some people are not motivated by positive rewards and instead need the threat of something negative to get them going. So maybe tell yourself that you won’t be allowed to watch that all-important match if you don’t finish the project. Of course, this requires discipline on your part, to actually follow through with it. If you do though, you may actually find it very motivating.
You won’t may not ever be totally cured of your tendency to procrastinate. So if you can just improve your concentration and abilities to get things done, that’s still really good.
If you feel that procrastination is really interfering with your happiness or if it’s preventing you from getting on at school, college or in your career, consider speaking to someone who could help you get things in order, such as a life coach.
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