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Procrastination

By Karen Vally on 09 Feb 2020



Procrastination is an avoidance of our obligations, a postponing of the inevtable. It often arises when a person is fearful of an upcoming event or pending task. To eliminate the anxiety, he or she often engages in some form of immediate gratfication to make themselves feel better. But the relief is only temporary, as the task is seldom accomplished of its own accord.

Extensive research has been carried out on this aspect of human behaviour and opinions differ. Some believe that the cause of procrastination is a failure to self-regulate. Others believe that it is connected to how our brains function and to our self image and the way in which we view time.

Human  beings are wired in such a way that we generally pay far more attention to the needs of the present than to those of the future. Sometimes we choose pleasure over discipline. Sometimes we avoid a task because we lack the skills or we just don't know where to begin. Sometimes we're waiting until we feel fired up with energy and enthusiasm.

We procrastinate because our self-control and motivation are outweighed by negative factors such as exhaustion or a sense of overwhelm. Perhaps the reward is not sufficiently enticing. We may lack the required level of perseverance. A desire to be perfect may be a deterent. Impulsiveness could also impede a readiness to act.

" Most of us tacitly believe that our emotional state has to match the task at hand," says Professor Timothy Pychl. We need to acknowledge that this will seldom occur. Instead of focusing on our feelings, we would benefit from shifting our focus onto the next approprioate action.

How  could a procrastinator unwire and rewire? The best place to start is by forgiving oneself for procrastinating. That eliminates the guilt. One could try counting to 10 every time the temptation to procrastinate arises. What if we were to visualize our dream life and believe in our ability to get started and complete our tasks? A good tip is to break large projects or goals down into small steps, to arrange these in order of priority and to choose a reward for accomplishing each step. It is a good idea to estimate the amount of time required for each step and to set target dates for their completion. Be realistic. Then, the most crucial part of all is to create an environment conducive to success, by removing all forms of distraction and noise. If necessary, devices can be placed in another room.

All that remains, is to get started, choosing to work for short periods of time initially, taking regular breaks and then gradually extending those periods of productivity. It's vital to keep boosting our level of motivation. 

The best way to change a habit is to break it. Procrastination often arises from a belief that we should avoid any form of discomfort, says Pamela Garcy. What if we were to start seeing discomfort as an integral part of our growth rather than as an enemy?

" When we waste time, we waste life itself." Professor Timothy Pychl. 

If you're a non-procrastinator, feel proud of yourself. If you are a procrastinator, plagued by a busy mind, this very moment is your golden opportunity to ignore your thoughts and distractions, and to courageously and optimistically take that first step...

You will feel so much better.





 

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