Procrastination: Everything You Need to Know and How To Stop!

Want to beat procrastination? Today we’ll be going over what procrastination is, why we do it, and the negative impact of procrastinating.

The purpose of this guide is to help you understand why we procrastinate and actions to take to help you stop procrastinating.

What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is the act of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on an easier, or more enjoyable activity.

According to Timothy Pychyl, a procrastination expert, procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem.

And if you are familiar with the term, “Present Bias” you might agree with Pychyl.

Present bias is the habit of putting a greater value on the reward received in the present moment instead of receiving the same in the future.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Remember the time you thought you had a time you decided not to work out because you “didn’t feel like doing it right now”?

One of the greatest factors contributing to procrastination is the belief that you need to feel motivated to work on a task at a particular time.

Also, sometimes you may assume that a project won’t take as long to finish as it actually will, and this can lead to a false sense of security.

The reality is that if you wait until you are in the right time frame to do certain tasks, the “right time” may never come along.

10 Causes of Procrastination You Should Be Aware of.

  • Believing that you work better under pressure.
  • Lacking the drive to start.
  • Pausing/ delaying one task in favor of working on another.
  • Waiting for the right time.
  • Need for perfection.
  • Thinking a lot or not thinking at all.
  • Lacking self-compassion.
  • Unrealistic views of your future self.
  • Inability to prioritize.
  • Getting distracted.

Types of Procrastination.

Some researchers claim that there are two main types:

Passive Procrastinators

These individuals delay a task because they find it difficult to make a decision and follow through.

Active Procrastinators

These individuals delay a task intentionally because doing it last minute makes them feel “motivated and challenged”.

There are also procrastinators based on behavioral types.

Characteristics of Procrastinators.

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Low agreeableness.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Low self-efficacy.
  • Sensation seeking.
  • Neuroticism.
  • Lack of vision.
  • Lack of organization.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Lack of vision.
  • Poor communicator.
  • Unapologetically late.
  • Setting unclear and unreachable goals.

 The Negative Effect of Procrastination on Your Brain.

The reason why we procrastinate differs from person to person and is not always obvious.

Sometimes you procrastinate because you aren’t motivated to do a certain task.

The negative effect of procrastination could be short terms such as missing the deadline on an important project, or long-term such as missing a life-changing opportunity that could help you achieve your dream.

What Happens When You Procrastinate Too Much?

The reason why people procrastinate is that it sometimes feels great.

And, as you will see in this video by Science Insider, procrastination isn’t so great for your brain because it causes your limbic system, and your prefrontal cortex to start a literal head-to-head match.

We get it, doing work isn’t always an easy or fun task.

But by choosing to do tasks that you consider fun such as watching TV over cleaning your room, you’ve launched a terrible battle in your brain.

Procrastination: Feelings VS Self-Love.

Just because it feels good doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.

“The lower levels of self-compassion among chronic procrastinators suggests that treating oneself harshly, with self-blame, criticism, and a general lack of kindness and acceptance after failure to do intended tasks may contribute to the stress linked to procrastinating and further affect well-being and potentially physical health “_Fuschia Sirois, Ph.D., University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Sirois explains that serial procrastinators are stuck in a vicious cycle, in which the thought of previous uncompleted tasks haunts, paralyzes, and stops them from completing present tasks.

5 Steps to Help You Quit Procrastinating Now.

  • Forgive yourself for past procrastination by learning how to stop self-sabotaging.
  • Redefine what success means to you (i.e. waking up by 7:30.a.m instead of 10. a.m.).
  • Get rid of any potential distractions by learning the power of focus.
  • Take periodical breaks from work.
  • Break your tasks into smaller sub-tasks it makes it easier to manage.
  • Build a personal development plan. And, always start your day by writing down things you need to do.

Use the 2-Minute Rules to Stop Procrastinating.

If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined. _David Allen, author of the time management book, “Getting Things Done”.

Often it’s the small tasks that pile up in your To-Do lists that make you feel overwhelmed.

Tidying your desk, walking the dog, or doing the laundry are tasks that take about 120 seconds (or less).

But when you ignore them, they pile up and become a laundry list of chores that you continually put off.

Next time, when you start a new habit it should take less than two minutes to do. You can start (and complete) anything within two minutes:

  • Cleaning the entire house at once becomes, “doing laundry”.
  • Writing a summary each day becomes, “write one sentence”.
Image showing 2-minute rule works
2-Minute Rule

It’s a great strategy to help you form and stick to good habits. And very useful for achieving and mapping your goals.

Why does the 2-minute rule work? Learning to show is important, doing so regularly will make you easily stick to a new habit.

Want to start achieving your goals today? Take our free course on Building Your Personal Annual Plan!

Summary on How to Stop Procrastinating.

At first glance, procrastination may not seem so bad. But over time the effects can increase, leading to stress, low self-esteem, and anxiety.

The best way to avoid procrastination is to develop time management strategies.

While everybody may procrastinate now and then, not everyone is a procrastinator.

If you find yourself struggling with procrastination aside from the steps shared in this guide, cognitive behavioral therapy may help.

Research shows that behavioral therapy reduces procrastination more than other interventions.

Getting People Right (GPR) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in human resources and leadership. 

To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional GPR resources below will be useful

How to Stop self-sabotaging yourself. A complete guide.

Time Management Strategies to Buy Your More Time.:

The Power of Focus: How to Hit Your Business, Personal, and Financial Targets with Absolute Confidence and Certainty.

Building Your Personal Development Plan.

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