I have laundry pending in my laundry room for 4 hours, and I can't make myself do it. My assignment is due tomorrow, and I am panicking about it but unable to even start on it. All the tasks on my to-do list for today are still remaining, and I don't know why I cannot pull myself to do it.
Do the above statements sound familiar or relatable to you?
If so, then you must have experienced being non-productive. It is not a new thing. Everybody faces this phase every once in a while when they can do absolutely nothing even after trying hard enough. They cannot get out of their seat to do the task or even move an inch for that.
It is completely normal if this happens once in a while. You are just unable to get up and be productive. That's your mind wanting rest. You should allow yourself a break every now and then. The world won't come to an end if you do so (most of the time).
But when this happens on a regular basis and hinders your overall productivity almost every day, then it is a matter of sheer concern. Most of the time, it is due to the reason of procrastination that causes a person to stall on doing a task.
What is Procrastination?
"When a person is lagging in doing something by lingering on it or stalling on doing the task, then the condition is called procrastination." This is often misunderstood as laziness. But let me tell you, procrastination is not the same as laziness. It is different, actually.
When a person is just lazy to do something, they will not be able to make themselves do the thing. And they often will find another way to complete it. One that is less straining for them or in which they don't have to put much effort. This is not the scenario with the people that suffer from procrastination.
They are deliberately choosing to avoid a given task (maybe sometimes if they do not like it much). Or they want to completely omit to do it. They actually are panicking from the inside when they can't get themselves to accomplish their work on time.
Procrastination is a habit. It is a behavior pattern that is deeply ingrained in their brain. And many of us have fall prey to it. It is like their mind and body lose cooperation and coordination. They will be thinking constantly every moment about their work that is still pending.
They know they have to do the task, and they actually want to. But their body won't cooperate with their mind. And even after numerous attempts, they will have difficulty making themselves do the activity. This often will result in them feeling negative emotions like anxiety, guilt, frustration, lack of self-worth, etc.
They are aware that they will have to face the consequences when their work remains incomplete. And they do not fancy that, and therefore struggle hard to avoid that but are unable to do anything about it. This causes so much mental and emotional distress.
Several researches have been conducted on this matter. And the results have made it a bit easier to understand the suffering people from procrastination goes through. You might have noticed that some people are rarely delayed in their task on the one hand.
While on the flip side, there are people who are never able to accomplish their work on time. And they have to go through many emotional stresses while getting things done. Tests were conducted over both types of people to understand the working of their brains. It was concluded from those tests that the brains of the people who procrastinate actually are differently wired from the other ones.
Sometimes it also happens that they are in a delusion that makes them think that there is more time than they actually do for completing a task. As a result, they slack on it and fall behind the time slot to complete it.
The people who procrastinate are actually having a hard time getting their minds to focus. It is like that there is a voice in the back of their mind that always tempts them and stops them from doing their work. And it is not less than a battle to block that voice that wants them to have fun at the moment and let the task be delayed.
Another conclusion is that such a person might also be suffering from 'the perfectionists' syndrome.' They have a tendency to get things done perfectly and in one or two trials (rarely twice). For fulfilling this expectation, they put too much pressure on themselves and have high-often unrealistic expectations.
This creates anxiety in their minds and prevents them from being productive. They won't do the task unless they are absolutely confident about doing it right or know how to do it perfectly.
There are even instances when the person who procrastinates is actually suffering from psychological disorders or ailments like ADHD, depression and anxiety, and such. But due to the lack of awareness about these, we end up falling apart, not knowing what to do about it.
They become distraught and end up with guilt and self-blame. More often than not, people with dysfunctional procrastinations live in constant fear of being competitive or efficient enough in their work or academics. Because we rarely get a flexible pattern of work or doing things as per our own terms. And we can not work or study, right?
That is not an option. This is a grave problem as they often are left behind even after possessing the skills and ability to do things. They have a really hard time managing their schedule and meeting deadlines.
You will find they have delayed doing certain tasks for months or even years. This often black marks their reviews. Comparatively, the people who suffer from procrastination are less in number. This makes it even harder for the ones facing this situation to be understood.
This can affect their life in disastrous ways if they don't find ways to deal with it earlier and let the problem increase. "Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will---Tomorrow!" Yup! This is pretty much how people who procrastinate feel, actually.
What Can Be Done About procrastinate?
When you ask people for advice in dealing with this, the most common one you will get is to make a to-do list and do your task according. Let me tell you; you are more likely not to get benefitted from this advice. It is not like this is not effective. But this is more relevant for those who do not suffer from the above-explained conditions.
This is the most helpful for them to get things done. But it is not the same for people otherwise. In fact, people who suffer from procrastination might not actually need a to-do list in the first place.
That is just going to intimate and stress them more because there not many tasks ticked-off from the list at the end of their day. I am not saying that there is nothing you can do to fight procrastination. There is! But the approach will be slightly different from the regular steps you will take to solve this problem.
Recognize You Are Procrastinating
Putting off a task for later might not always mean you are procrastinating. It might be because something occurred that was more urgent, and your priorities of work change for that time period. When the situation is the opposite, it means you are putting your task off for later, even if it is more important than you are procrastinating.
Self-forgiveness is an essential first step to break through the habit of procrastination. It can help you feel positive about yourself, and you begin your journey to stop procrastinating from then on.
Once you are decided upon not procrastinating, you need to keep yourself committed to the promise. You cannot let yourself slip away from this commitment. Or else, nothing will make a difference.
Set A Goal
It will be better for you if you set a goal for yourself. It can be of short term or something minor initially. The idea is to get you going with your tasks. Just remember to set a realistic goal. You are more likely to fail in accomplishing an unrealistic goal. And when this happens, you are going to feel defeated even before you start.
Divide Your Tasks
You need to divide your task into sub-groups. Take things one-at-a-time. Start with the easiest one of them so as to not get overwhelmed. You will be able to do it in less time and with ease. This will motivate you and give you the confidence to accomplish the other task. Doing like this will make the tasks less daunting for you.
Make A Schedule
Yes, schedules are needed for getting things done. Get yourself a time-table if needed and fill the time slots for different tasks. Plan your strategies for working towards this schedule and complete them accordingly.
Identify Your Distractions
Procrastinations are often occurring due to distractions. You are not doing a task because you are distracted and are unable to focus on it. This, however, most people are guilty of. But with procrastinators, this seems to be more of the case scenario.
They do more than the people otherwise. So first, find out what keeps you distracted from doing the task and waste your time. Then you need to work on finding ways and block these distractions away.
For example, if it is social media, then you can block these websites temporarily using the available online tools for it.
Even though procrastination is not a positive or a good thing, the people who are like this are surely more capable of finding shortcuts or easier ways to do a task. This can be considered as at least one good thing about it. That is the whole purpose of inventing new technology.
To make human life easier by finding ways to do a task with less effort and in less time. Think over it and research if you may. You are sure to find some way to do it better and easier.
Power Of Visualization
This may seem like a fantasy concept to many, but it is an effective thing to do. Visualize yourself doing the thing and accomplishing it. Focus on how it would feel if that is achieved. It will help you achieve your temporary goal. After all, every huge successful venture always starts with a vision.
This is the most unlikeable thing when you are trying to do something you do not want to. Everyone can relate to this situation. Guaranteed, they have experienced this more than once in their lifetime. But sadly, sometimes this is the only thing that can work in your favor.
You need to encourage and pay attention to yourself to make your brain function accordingly. The hardest part will be to take the first step only. The rest is easy to achieve.
Rewards are a helpful factor for motivating yourself. So reward yourself with a treat or little gifts when you successfully complete a task, just the way we do with kids. You are going to feel really good about it too.
This is the last resort. You might not need to take this step if you follow the above points. But if they do not work after your efforts, you might need to take the help of a professional even then.
The chances are high that you might be suffering from psychological disorders relating to cognitive behavior. And professional therapy and medication can be the only solution for this. It will also help to learn the necessary skills to get things done and overcome the mental ailment.
Conclusion It may seem hard to get over your procrastination and get things done. But by developing the right attitude and practices, you can win over it. It is not even an incurable disease and can definitely be overcome.