Which one of us can claim to have never procrastinated? Let me tell you. None. Even while reading this article, you’re procrastinating on something – doing the dishes, writing that essay on your thoughts of Shakespeare, taking out the trash, listening to that new CD, eating, or even sleeping. Contrary to popular belief however, there’s good procrastination and bad procrastination. The following article provides information about this disease that’s bothers every person on this planet – the causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What is procrastination (sapiens procrastini)?
First and foremost, it is a psychological problem. That means that you are the only one who can combat it. Almost everyone is affected, although in varying degrees. The problem with procrastination is not an identification of what you should be doing, but rather the lack of work on the task at hand.
You can procrastinate on going to the mall to study for a final – that’s good procrastination. On the other hand, you could procrastinate on learning your lines for the upcoming play in favor for blow-drying your hair. That’s bad procrastination. Most people are able to distinguish without problems – but here’s a simple way to tell. For which of the tasks at hand would be remembered were you to die the next day? While getting an ‘A’ on the math final may not be in your obituary, if you study for the test and become a brilliant mathematician who finds a pattern in the digits of pi, then that is something that would go in your obituary. Buying a $3 cute t-shirt from PacSun is not (although I admit that the short-term pleasure is greater in the latter – hence an incentive for procrastination. You need to fight the temptation!)
Due to the fact that it is a psychological problem, there is no simple overall solution. However, the first step to any treatment is identifying the source. Therefore, here are some common simple reasons for procrastination.
When things are difficult, our mind tends to avoid it and go on to simpler things. Another reason is that the task could be time-consuming. If it takes a while, you tend to think of all the other things you would be able to fit into that same period of time and avoid the task at hand. The remaining two reasons are lack of knowledge or skills and fears. You may not want to start until you think you have sufficient knowledge. On the other hand, you could be scared of messing up (whether at a conscious or subconscious level).
Since it is a psychological problem, all you have to do is think. And think positively. Whatever negative thoughts enter your head, just make yourself believe the opposite one. If it’s too hard – no it isn’t, I’ve done tons of things like this before. In response to “I don’t know how” you could think, “it’s not too hard to learn, I know everything I need to get started.”
The key is that you shouldn’t let these negative thoughts get to you. Just keep going on and let nothing stop you!
Complicated Causes and Solutions
Sometimes, the root of your procrastination is not going to be so simple to identify or solve. Here are some common causes that are slightly more complex and penetrate deeper into your psych.
The desire to have everything go exactly right may be imposed by you upon yourself, or by someone else, but the affect is the same: an overwhelming feeling that stops you from evening beginning the project. Attempting to reach unrealistically high expectations may also be an effort to mask struggling self-esteem.
Again, thinking opposite thoughts is the best remedy. Reassure yourself that what you have done is good enough. It helps to praise your own work, very specifically, so you can focus on what you have done well. Remind yourself that although it’s impossible to pick out all mistakes, surely there are not fatal errors. Finally, keep in mind that even famous poets and artists, at one point or another, deemed their work done, so yours can also be complete at this point.
When you’re holding a grudge against somebody else, you may tend to withhold your best efforts in the thought that “they don’t deserve it.” For example, if a teacher has given an unfair grade, you may not be too eager to perform your best on the next assignment. However, in the end, you’re going to be the one who is going to suffer.
The main solution in this is identification. Although others may have made mistakes, remind yourself not to let your anger steer your actions in such a way that it costs you. After all, are these feelings going to obstruct your future?
Low Frustration Tolerance
This is a characteristic of a person. If you have a low frustration tolerance, you find situations easily radical and intolerably unfair. Therefore, you have a habit of thinking along the lines of “why me?” You delay starting your project in the hopes that the next day you’ll be feeling better about the prospect, but this doesn’t happen – you’re just as frustrated the next day!
Your high frustration is probably due to wanting something you cannot have. In extreme circumstances, you probably want to seek help. Try and learn to postpone your desires as well as you can. If you find this seriously interfering with your life, try alternatives such as yoga to clear your mind and ease stress.
When you continually put yourself down and minimalize your successes, you create doubt in yourself. A person who habitually does this has trouble believing when they are actually successful, accrediting it all to luck. “Oh, I didn’t really know the answers that well; I just happened to study the right stuff.” After a while, the person actually comes to believe that they are incapable of success. This could lead to procrastination because the person becomes uncomfortable with success, and will look for ways to become less successful and less visible.
The first step to treating a self-downing is learning to accept compliment properly. Respond with a simple “Thank you.” You should also try and figure out why you can’t accept success well. (Ask questions such as: “Did significant others in your life often make you feel that way? Were you taught to minimize your success? Why is success so scary? Will it make you stand out in the crowd? Do you feel as though others will not accept you if you are successful?”) Lastly, remember you should praise yourself and the work you’ve finished.
Take some candy!
Now that you’ve learned some more about procrastination, try some of these techniques the next time you find yourself not working on a task. On your way out, grab some candy. I’m sure your dentist would have a few things to say, but he isn’t here now, is he?