Procrastination - Dream Health

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013


What, Where, Why and How? 

Procrastination is the act of replacing high priority jobs with low priority ones, just to put off the more important tasks for a later time. In short, just being lazy to do what lies at the top of your to-do list!

It is a normal phenomenon which has a simple explanation. We as humans do not like to feel negative emotions such as fear and we tend to avoid situations and tasks that cause stress or seem to be stressful. It is also true that we perform better under pressure; thus putting off these tasks till later may provide more useful than harmful. This kind of behavior may be seen as a coping mechanism to anxiety related to tasks and decisions.

So what happens due to procrastination? It may result in increased stress and may produce feelings of guilt for not completing the tasks at the appropriate time. Productivity of the person may also decrease due to this. Normal procrastination may be alright but when this becomes prolonged it can be seen as a sign of underlying psychological disorders.

How does procrastination cause a psychological impact?Let’s draw a connection between putting off important tasks and issues of anxiety, low self-worth and loss of interest. Anxiety of doing the task and increased pressure of doing it at the last minute can cause stress to the person. Procrastination can lead to a loss of interest in important activities and this can lead to the person feeling low worth due to the inability to work efficiently.Procrastination may thus lead to depression or symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Thus, it is important to keep one’s procrastination in check and consult a mental health professional if it is chronic and causing disability in the person’s life.

In earlier days of human life, laziness was adaptive as time and energy was more limited as compared to today’s fast paced world. Today, our motivations are more abstract and thus it is harder to avoid tasks. In some instances, procrastination is linked to perfectionism. This is a tendency to evaluate outcomes in a negative manner and also one’s own performance, which is coupled with extreme fear, increased consciousness and anxiety.

Where does procrastination occur in our daily lives? It was seen in a survey that more than 50% students feel a high need for help regarding procrastination. About 80% to 95% of college students engage in procrastination which is not appropriate yet is still the case.

How to overcome procrastination? First, know that you are procrastinating. Be honest to yourself and you will know the answer. If you still won’t accept it, ask yourself – Do you fill your day with low priority tasks first? Do you start a high priority task and then distract yourself and go do something else? Do you wait for the right time and right mood to do the important task? Then yes, you are a procrastinator. Secondly, work on why you procrastinate. Some of the common reasons are that the task is boring or unpleasant, it is disorganized and will take a long time to complete, you feel overwhelmed by the task at hand and doubt that you can’t complete it, or just can’t make a decision!

Now that you know what, what is the how to? Simple tips can help you motivate yourself. Don’t be ashamed to ask others to help you! Tell them to push you to do the task. Make up your own rewards to help you do the work – promise yourself a chocolate cake after the task is done. Get organized. Create a schedule and follow it! Break the project into manageable tasks if it is disorganized. Create an action plan! This will break the destructive habit of procrastinating!

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