Do you have an important task with a looming deadline, but instead of completing it, you find yourself putting it off by reorganizing your sock drawer?
Or maybe by reading this article?
This is what we call procrastination, and don’t worry - we have all been guilty of doing it!
So, let’s look at what exactly procrastination is and what you can do to manage your productivity.
What Is Procrastination?
Procrastination, by definition, is purposefully postponing or delaying a particular task, despite being aware of the consequences.
It often gets confused with laziness, but don’t be quick to call yourself lazy, as the two are very different things.
Laziness is more about the unwillingness to do a task and instead engaging in a not-so-dull activity.
On the other hand, when you are procrastinating, you are essentially prioritizing a less important task.
After all, organizing your sock drawer still requires effort but let’s face it - it’s probably not as important as completing your presentation for work tomorrow.
But if you are not being lazy, then what is going on?
What Is It About?
Are you procrastinating because you really don’t want to complete your task?
Well, yes, but in reality, the real question you should be asking is why you don’t want to do it.
At its root, procrastination is not about the lack of motivation or bad time management.
Instead, you can look at it as a way to cope with your negative feelings toward the task.
But then, if you want to get to the bottom of it, you need to ask yourself why the thought of facing the task fills you with negative emotions.
Some chores can just be extremely boring, but sometimes the key lies in our personal insecurities.
Low self-esteem, anxiety, and self-doubt are sometimes the things that run through our minds and stop us from progressing forward.
So we suppress thoughts like ‘What if I can’t do it?’ by altogether avoiding the task at hand to make ourselves feel better.
Interestingly, the stress that we know we will experience in the future due to procrastination might be even bigger.
And yet our brain is essentially choosing to focus on the negative emotions we are experiencing right now.
So how can you escape this vicious cycle?
What You Can Do
Believe it or not, just telling yourself to stop procrastinating won’t help you, at least not for long.
And this is, of course, because, in order to make a change, you will need to look for the core problem.
When you catch yourself procrastinating, try to stop for a moment and reflect on what you are feeling and why.
In most cases, the deeper you dig, the more likely you will rationalize and tackle the main reason directly.
Another thing to practice is to not be so hard on yourself - sometimes, you just need to recognize your mistakes, accept them, and move forward.
Doing this will help bring your stress levels down and thus will leave more space for motivation and positive thoughts in your mind.
You can also try to change your perspective on the task you are avoiding.
Instead of thinking about how boring or difficult the task is, try to look for the positive - ‘It’s a boring presentation, but it will impress my boss.’
Breaking down the task into small chunks and focusing only on the one that comes next will make the task feel less overwhelming, and you will feel like you’ve achieved more.
It is also very crucial to remove anything that might be distracting you.
If you get distracted by social media, you can either delete the apps you’re using until you are done or just put your phone away.
These and many other strategies have proven to be helpful to procrastinators - you just need to find out what works best for you.
And, of course, don’t forget the most crucial thing - consistency!
You don’t want to end up in the same position next time you have a difficult job to complete - procrastinating yet again.
This is why it is important to remain consistent and keep challenging yourself with every single task that comes at you.
It will not only make you more productive but will also help you be more self-aware and grow as a person.
To summarize, procrastination is avoiding a task, despite knowing there will be consequences for doing so.
We mostly do it to make ourselves feel better and cope with the stress, but ironically it ends up making us feel even more anxious.
It is crucial to ask yourself what makes you procrastinate, and once you are aware, you can work on trying out different strategies to overcome it.
And make sure you organize that sock drawer quickly so you can get back to your task!