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What is it

By definition., procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. There are varying degrees of procrastination. This can range from what appears to be minor things such as scrolling through FB, Insta, watching tv, avoid taking the rubbish up or even pressing the snooze button multiple times before getting out of bed. The other side can be avoiding the gym or starting that diet or delaying completion of an assignment or exam revision. Procrastination seems to be linked to laziness and lack of discipline. Many dreams and aspirations have never seen the light or day because of procrastination. Let’s not forget there are consequences to procrastination as everything in life has a price. There are no gains without sacrifice and vice versa.

Why does it happen?

It’s amazing the Justifications we tell ourselves to allow procrastinating. These are of course coping mechanisms as we all know the truth can be a bit too much to handle sometimes. The following are ways we allow ourselves excuses to procrastinate: avoidance, distraction, trivialisation, humour (making a joke of it), external blame, denial, reframing and valorisation. However, the deeper reasons include anxiety, lack of confidence, self-defeating mentality, self-sabotage or just fear. Fundamentally, it happens because of a break down in self-control. You know what you ought to do and you’re not able to bring yourself to do it. It’s that gap between intention and action. Let’s go back to the examples we mentioned, so should you be reading this on FB or insta right now or instead is there a task you should/could be getting on with that could bring you one step closer to your goals and aspirations, the best version of yourself.

Ways to combat it

Knowing what to do and why you need to do it will never be enough. Fortunately, there are many ways to combat procrastination and the key is to find a way or combination that works for you as this will launch you into a state of action.

1. Plan -Have a plan which includes breaking down the overall task into smaller more manageable ones. Mini mile stones make the task more tolerable. The average human has a very short attention span therefore bit size tasks increase the likely hood of completing the overall task. Furthermore, mini wins can help pick up momentum.

2. Do the more pleasurable tasks first – This can also help pick up the momentum. Every time you complete a task the feel-good hormone dopamine is released. You then start to feel good about the task, making you more likely to continue and complete the task

3. Get rid of or anticipate distractions – distractions take your eyes f the price. Within your plan, its best to consider potential distractions. For example, if it’s an exam you’re preparing for turn your phone off, switch of the television off, find a private space to studying where the chances of being interrupted are reduced.

4. Reward -Every time you complete a mini task, that is a mile stone, be it minor. For that reason, you deserve a reward, I mean you did it right (virtual high- five). You deserve a pat on the back because though the task is not complete, you have started, that is taking action. Now I’m not talking reward in the form of a party or a night out. Something as simple as a short break from the task can be classed as a reward.

5. 5 second rule - If you have an impulse to act on a goal, act RIGHT NOW, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea. If your goal is to lose weight you can act right now by researching healthy meal options and setting daily reminders. If you goal is to launch your own business, get on google right now and research other companies or people in your field of interest, what are they doing and decide where you’ll differentiate yourself.

If you have read this far you must know a little about procrastination and are probably already taking the time to invest in yourself, which is exciting. Hopefully some of what I have a shared will help contribute to your procrastination tool box.


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