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Diahanne Rhiney's picture
Diahanne Rhiney
'Procrastinators know what they should do'

PROCASTINATION - WE all do it, or have done it at some point in our life. It doesn’t matter how organised or committed we are, it’s highly likely that we’ve spend minutes, hours, days and in some cases years, frittering away our time on mundane trivial tasks rather than focus on whatever the project is that should have our attention.

We’d rather go shopping, watch TV or update our status on social media, anything to avoid finishing a task or an assignment.

Procrastination is actually a complex psychological behaviour that affects most people to some degree.

We often assume that procrastination is simply about effective time management when it is only remotely so. Procrastinators know what they should do, even when they cannot do it. They are often optimistic about working within tight deadlines and usually give reassurances that everything is under control. As time passes, panic sets in, which then leads to a sudden surge of energy to complete the task in the remaining time, leaving the procrastinator feeling as though they only work well under pressure.

When they are then rewarded positively for the task the counterproductive behaviour is repeated over and over again.

This positive reinforcement for delayed work then becomes a major contributor to continued procrastination and so the cycle continues.

Other characteristics show that procrastinators struggle with feelings of low self-esteem or self-confidence.

They often set high performance levels even though they may feel inadequate or incapable of actually achieving them.

Procrastinators may also use manipulation to control the behaviour of others, often delaying events or tasks to frustrate other people.

They may also use procrastination as an expression of stubbornness or pride, stressing they cannot be pushed around and will do things only when they are ready.

Similarly, since the delayed behaviour is a method of coping with stress and pressures, once dealt with, it will then place new demands and expectations upon them, therefore, it is easier to have an excuse, to delay or put things off.

For the vast majority of us procrastination is simply just a minor problem, but for others it can be a source of anxiety and stress.

Not only can procrastination have a negative impact on our health; it can also harm social relationships, as by putting things off, you are placing a burden on the people around you.

For 20 per cent of us, procrastination is a chronic problem and a major part of our lifestyle. These people don't just procrastinate occasionally; they don’t pay their bills on time, they delay starting work on big projects until the night before the deadline, they delay Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve, and even file their tax returns late.

This can have a significant impact on a of number areas, including a person's mental health and well being. A 2007 survey of university students showed over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating students showed evidence of low immune systems and more gastrointestinal problems, as well as suffering from insomnia.

Additionally, as responsibilities shifted to others who became resentful, relationship and teamwork also suffered.

Researchers suggest that developing a schedule, carefully planning tasks and improving time management are all helpful ways in coping with procrastination.

However, in the long term and for more chronic cases, this is more effective with highly structured cognitive behaviour therapy.

Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behaviour. Habits only stop being habits when you have persistently stopped practising them and adopted some anti-procrastination strategies:

Deal with your fear

This is a clear indicator that contributes to procrastination. This can involve a fear of failure, a fear of making mistakes, or even a fear of success.

Create a list and be accountable

Start a list of things of what you want to accomplish and make yourself accountable to someone to help you achieve it.

Break projects down

It’s all about taking baby steps that will help make the task achievable and avoid you feeling daunted or intimidated.

Get rid of distractions and reward yourself

Use the time to focus all of your attention on the task at hand and once you complete a task, give yourself the opportunity to indulge in something fun and enjoyable.

Ultimately, the benefits of overcoming procrastination will give peace of mind, a feeling of strength and purpose, and healthy feeling of being in control of your life.

This will leave you feeling stronger, more confident, competent, and capable, with an increased sense of freedom.

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www.diahannerhiney.com

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