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Published: Thursday 31st of October 2013
So, how do you avoid doing a task that you’re trying to accomplish? It’s rather easy for some and rather difficult for other, but no matter how organized or disorganized you are, everyone succumbs to the perils of procrastination at some point in their lives. In a Vermont University study in 1984, over 40% of subjects were saying to procrastinate on a daily basis when writing university papers. Another 1992 study by Gallagher showed that the number of students procrastinating was indeed over 50%, many of them have indicated that they need help, so the problem is fair and true. It seems that this issue is something that nobody wants, and it can be a detriment to society. So with society’s brightest minds procrastinating on a daily basis, questions remain of just how and why? It’s all an interesting discovery.
From a behavioral point of view, procrastination is three parts: needless, counterproductive and delaying. Procrastination is voluntary and includes an attempt to delay some course of action even though you know you’ll be worse off as a result of the delay. Postponing the idea and having an irrational motive to do it is what constitutes procrastination, different to not doing a task. For a long time, psychologists have turned to temporal motivation theory to summarize procrastination tendencies in humans, and predict ideas of impulsiveness and expectancy to procrastinate from mathematical equations.
Many people procrastinate for multiple different reasons. A lot of individuals fear failure and temporarily avoid working on projects because they worry that they will fail in them. Even though they know that doing their best is rationally the normal thing, and procrastination can lead to increased chance of failure, they will procrastinate anyway as to set themselves up for perceived failure. On the flip side, people may have a fear of success, procrastinating as they dread that they won’t be able to repeat their success. Because they don’t think that they can repeat their previous experience, they procrastinate as a result. Some use procrastination as an act of rebellion, doing it as a rebuttal against pressures from family, teachers or others that are putting on pressure. In other times, it can be none of the following things and people may procrastinate because they feel bored and unchallenged, lacking the motivation and inspiration to continue. It’s often difficult to get the drive.
A lot of people think that procrastination is not such as bad thing because they believe they work best under pressure, but the negative effects of procrastination are true and just and can have a harmful impact on the lives of those who procrastinate and others in their circles.
Procrastination can affect relationships as when the procrastinator carries out work with other people, their inability to do what’s asked of them can become a liability to others, thus, damaging relationships. The stresses of people who have to work with procrastinators that can’t deliver on time increase when things aren’t achieved the way those people would like them to be. As well as this, for the procrastinator himself, an increase in procrastination can lead to a compromised immune function, insomnia and stress-related illnesses such as coronary heart disease or strokes.
Fortunately for sufferers of procrastination, there are ways to cure chronic procrastination. It’s important for victims to get to the root of the issue and understand what has led them to procrastinate in the first place. Identification of the fears and underlying reasons can really help a person come to terms with their problem. Only after this, someone can learn to reward their actions rather than avoid them – a reward for achieving something will increase one’s desire to accomplish the task and boost the self-esteem after the goal is attained. Changing your thinking to adopt less of a pessimistic outlook can also be a great way to avoid procrastinating, for instance, your inner monologue: “this project is just too hard, I can’t do it” can now become “this project is a great challenge and it’s doable”. Using your mind to reframe situations can also provide a positive procrastination-free outlook, putting real effort into something that you want to achieve, rather than trying to give up by saying the task is too difficult for you.
So what can be said about procrastination? We’ve learned that this condition is innate but we should take steps to manage it as best we can. It’s not a neurological problem or some sort of disease, it just points to some underlying negative feeling that can easily be reduced. The great thing is that there are plenty of ways to avoid procrastination today.