Another instalment of our psychology series is here! We are tackling procrastination, understanding what it is at its most fundamental level, how it may apply to you and how to overcome it. So let’s get started…
Etymologically, “procrastination” is derived from the Latin verb procrastinare, meaning, to put off until tomorrow. However, the word “procrastination” is also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia, meaning, doing something against our better judgment.
Procrastination is a self-fuelled cycle, and it is becoming an epidemic in our society. It has impacted our lives both singularly and collectively even more so during these tumultuous times. When we procrastinate, we are fully aware that we are delaying or even avoiding the task in question and it is that self-awareness that makes us feel awful, yet we still do it. Moreover, “this is why we say that procrastination is essentially irrational,” (Dr Fuschia Sirois, Professor of Psychology). In theory, it doesn’t seem to make sense that we would continue to procrastinate knowing it deems negative consequences.
WHY DO WE PROCRASTINATE?
The main reason people often procrastinate is due to something called task aversion; a person is averse to the tasks that need performing. This may be because they find the task tedious, boring or a person may find it too difficult to complete and therefore, too much to handle and so would put off completing it. Another reason may be perfectionism, a person may become so afraid of making a mistake that they end up not taking any action at all. Furthermore, people sometimes procrastinate because they are afraid of being evaluated or because they are afraid of receiving negative feedback from others. There are many reasons to why people procrastinate, and a person might procrastinate for any number of them. The results of a study carried out over a 10-year period was released in 2007, which showed that procrastination is not only on the rise, but “it makes people poorer, fatter and unhappier.” This is even more reason why it is most beneficial to understand why people procrastinate, since it could actually help you figure out why you yourself procrastinate, which in turn can help you figure out how to solve your procrastination problem.
To learn more about this, and to understand how you can implement this first, let’s try and identify what type of procrastinator you actually are. There are four main types, and they are explained below:
1) Do you work well under pressure?
You must be ‘The Performer’. This type of procrastinator forces themselves to complete a task in a short amount of time. Putting yourself in a pressurised environment may help produce your best work, however, continuing the habit of putting pressure on yourself is not deemed sustainable for a number of reasons. The biggest challenge this procrastinator faces, is actually getting started. Therefore, it may be wise to note down all the tasks you need to carry out and plan them to the hour.
2) Are you always searching for perfection?
You must be ‘The Self-Deprecator’. To self-deprecate you are constantly belittling and undervaluing yourself and the way you do things. This procrastinator is the opposite of lazy, so when they don’t do something, they are extra hard on themselves. This type of procrastination is more visible in men than women, they tend to blame underperforming on their laziness, when actually they are constantly searching to be ‘perfect’ all the time. The biggest challenge this procrastinator faces, is taking a break. They really need to be more compassionate with themselves and take regular breaks while still getting the work completed to a good standard.
3) Are you always busy?
You must be ‘The Over Booker’. This procrastinator is the best at filling up their schedule to a maximum and often end up feeling incredibly overwhelmed. You might always say ‘’I’m so busy’’, however, although it is known that some of the busiest people, we work with get the most done. Usually when being ‘busy’ comes up a lot it is also an indication of avoidance. Rather than facing a challenge head on or admitting they don’t want to do something, it’s easier to place the blame on having other important things to do.
4) Are you always full of ideas?
You must be ‘The Novelty Seeker’. This procrastinator is constantly coming up with new projects to take on and then eventually getting bored of them shortly after. They’re intrigued by the latest trend and will be quick to implement but not follow through. Therefore, this biggest challenge this procrastinator faces is completion, you may be great at making decision and taking action but inadvertently lose a lot of time and burn out by not taking consistent action in one direction long enough to see results.
So how can we help you stop procrastinating? There are a number of ways to stop procrastinating but it is important to stop the healthy way. Firstly, it may be worthwhile to write down your thoughts and feelings and pair them up with rational responses. This will help you identify where you are going wrong and what may be triggering your procrastination. It is important to appeal to your positive qualities and not always on the negative parts. Secondly, once you have reached a goal or an objective, this may be work or personal related goals, it is important to reward yourself, this is also known as positive reinforcement. This will make you feel more positive and more likely to complete more tasks. Finally, it is always important to take regular breaks to refresh your mind, it is not healthy to constantly bombard your mind with lots of thoughts or stresses. Regular breaks will make you feel refreshed and in a better position to complete tasks.
Always remember, tomorrow cannot offer you any more than today can!