Procrastination is the habit of delaying or postponing something. When we are putting things off or postponing them, we are aware that it’s not the right thing to do, and we’ll have to face its consequences. Yet, we do it anyway!
“Procrastination is more about being focused on the immediate urgency of managing negative moods, over the long-term pursuit of intended actions”, says Dr. Sirois in a study conducted in 2013.
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The negative mood/aversion to doing the task may be due to the kind of task you’re supposed to do or the situation. It may be due to something unpleasant about the task itself. For example, you have the task of cleaning your bathroom or organizing your kitchen drawer, etc. But it might also be due to deeper feelings associated with the task. For example, if the task is to write an essay, feelings like, Am I smart enough to write it? Or Will people like my Essay? These kinds of negative moods/aversions may be your reasons to procrastinate.
But avoiding doing that task will compound all the negative associations we have towards the task and those feelings will come back whenever we think of that task, along with increased anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, and self-blame.
Psychologists have not only studied why we procrastinate but they’ve also suggestions that help us avoid procrastination and they are :
A) Face your negative emotion head-on :
As I mentioned earlier we procrastinate because of the negative emotion associated with the task. If that is the case instead of avoiding the task, we have to make a genuine effort at facing this negative emotion head-on. It is not going to be easy, but the first step of avoiding procrastination is going to take you a long way.
B) Stop waiting for motivation :
Many a time we procrastinate, saying that I’m not feeling motivated enough right now! Sometimes we have to do, what we got to do even though we don’t like it.
C) Two-minute rule :
According to Dr. Timothy Pychyl, we have to create “a layer of self-deception”. The idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start with and to convince your mind that you’re just going to do it for the next 2 minutes.
For example, if the task is studying, you have to scale it down to its 2-minute version which is, ‘Opening the notebook and studying for 2 minutes only’. Another example would be, if you want to workout every day, ‘Wearing your workout clothes’ would be the 2-minute version. This is a powerful strategy because once you’ve started doing the right thing, it is much easier to continue doing it.
So once you’ve established the habit, you can improvise it to achieve your ultimate goal. Instead of trying to engineer a perfect habit from the start, do the easy thing on a more consistent basis.
D) Make your temptations more Inconvenient :
We have to place obstacles between ourselves and our temptations to induce a certain degree of frustration or anxiety. For example, if your task is to finish studying a chapter, but you’re procrastinating due to strong temptations of checking social media, then make social media apps hard to find or delete or give them a complicated password. By doing this, you will be adding friction to the procrastination cycle and making your temptation seem less rewarding. On the other hand, we have to make the things we want to do, as easy as possible for ourselves. For example, if you want to work out every morning, go to bed in your workout clothes. Or if you want to study, keep your notebooks open right beside you.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
― Abraham Lincoln