Procrastination is described as ‘the action of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something, despite knowing that thee will be negative consequences’.
In its simplest form, procrastination is a decision to stay in my current emotions and state, rather than push myself into a more uncomfortable or challenging one, despite knowing it will cause me stress/upset/challenge (delete as applicable).
Ever found that we rarely procrastinate about ‘fun’ things. We procrastinate about things that we perceive as ‘boring’ ‘aversive’ ‘challenging’ ‘hard’ ‘overwhelming’ ‘stressful’ – the tasks which push us out of comfort zones and make our brain work in different ways are always the things that we avoid. Bt procrastinating, we AVOID having to deal with those emotions, but inevitably increase them as we then have added stress from not doing them.
There are two types of procrastinators:
- PASSIVE procrastinators – who delay tasks because they find making decisions difficult and find it challenging to act on those decisions
- ACTIVE procrastinators – who purposely delay tasks because they perceive that when they are under pressure they feel more motivated.
Procrastination is frequently associated with low self-esteem, those who avoid tasks can often have an internal dialogue that they are not ‘clever enough’ or ‘good enough’ ‘capable enough’. However, procrastination can also cause stress and anxiety, particularly when individuals are waiting for motivation to spur them on and motivation never comes.
Procrastination could be about:
- completing assignments
- completing revision
- finishing off tasks
- starting jobs
- getting housework done
We can procrastinate by:
- Filling our day with low level tasks (watching Netflix, playing on phones etc)
- Delaying making decisions
- Waiting until we are motivated to start a task
- Opening emails and closing them / filing them without actioning them
- Starting a task and then finding something else to do
- Opening all the tabs on the browser, then starting nothing
- Beginning to clean your house/bedroom and then getting caught up playing with things
- Booking over the time allocated to tasks that need to be done
- Spending time on social media
- Binge watching a TV show
- Getting lost in gaming or screens
- Online shopping
The reality is that motivation is fleeting, and actually comes from DOING things. So, when we wait for motivation it rarely finds us.
#1 – Discipline – Motivation is not a stable entity in our lives. However, discipline is. When we create non-negotiables in our lives and schedule them, we allow ourselves to build MOMENTUM which triggers feelings of MOTIVATION. Ever noticed that when you are taking part in a structured task you are most motivated? Motivation is the result of discipline and action. By identifying the tasks we need to complete, and breaking them into small parts, then actioning each small component, we can create a dopamine response (reward) as we cross of each part. Initially we may need someone to be accountable to, to check in with our progress, but this allows us to build momentum.
#2 – Remove distractions – If you know you get distracted by your phone, social media etc, then break your work into small parts and then place your distractions (or yourself) in a separate room and use it as a reward for completing each section rather than an excuse. You may even find that working at the local library or a cafe is more beneficial as you remove your excuses.
#3 – Action your thoughts – Our words are our instruction manual. When we tell ourselves we ‘have’ to do something, it sounds like punishment and activates uncomfortable emotions. Changing our dialogue to “I want to’ or ‘I choose to’ “I am’ allows us to view those tasks as more pleasurable or achievable. You may think of the benefits of ‘finishing’ the task to focus on the outcomes of achieving it.
#4 – Find your sweet spot – We all have different times of the day that we work best at. Identify yours and commit tasks to that space. For instance, at 5pm I am completing XYZ. This allows you to work in your best window, rather than losing hours of the day when you are less efficient and becoming demoralised. Using your sweet spot and committing tasks to it allows us to achieve more and create discipline.
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