If you’re on this blog, it’s likely that you are a huge procrastinator like I am. In fact, you may even be reading this to avoid doing the thing that you probably should be doing, but in this instance, I’ll make an exception!
In this blog today, we’ll be looking at ways to help you stop procrastinating, that you can use straight away and become the most productive version of yourself!
What is Procrastination?
The Oxford Learners Dictionary defines procrastination as “the act of delaying something that you should do, usually because you do not want to do it”. Even when we know that there are deadlines or consequences to not doing something, the human brain still finds a way to do anything but that.
In fact, a study by psychologist Professor Joseph Ferrari concluded that 20% of men and women in the USA are chronic procrastinators (that’s over double the amount of those in America with a depressive illness such as depression or bipolar disorder)! Another study identified a whopping 87% of 1,300 high school and college students who were self-proclaimed procrastinators.
Whilst a quick scroll on Instagram or TikTok may seem harmless (and usually it is), severe procrastination can have a major impact on our mental health, work life, grades and relationships!
Why do we Procrastinate?
If you want to stop procrastinating, it’s important to understand what causes you to do it in the first place!
In this section, we’ll look at 4 key reasons we avoid essential tasks and do what we want to do instead!
1. Instant Gratification
Us humans are hard-wired to enjoy instant gratification rather than waiting! There is an ongoing conflict between knowing what is good for us in future and what we would prefer in the short term.
In some cases the short term wins because its more enjoyable (like getting that extra shot on a night out…), despite us knowing we’ll be paying for it later down the line!
On the flip side, we may choose not to do something in the future because it’s hard or requires effort, like going to the gym in the rain!
Whilst it’s OK to do this every now and again, these decisions can add up and stop us from progressing from what we ‘should’ be doing.
2. Procrastinating & Mental Health
Another commonly overlooked cause of procrastination can be the result of a mental health issue, such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Depression: Often feelings of hopelessness, self-doubt or lack of energy can make it difficult to start tasks or continue with a task due to a lack of self-belief.
- Anxiety: Anxiety can frequently cause procrastination through the fear of starting a project or feeling daunted by the task itself. Feeling inadequate or perfectionism can also cause us to distract ourselves too!
- OCD: With OCD, it is common to procrastinate due to perfectionist tendencies which make it hard to make mistakes. Indecision on the correct path can also lead to procrastination being an easier route than the decision making itself.
- ADHD: Those with ADHD often find it difficult to focus on a task, especially when there is little motivation or interest in completing it. Time management can also be harder for someone with ADHD which makes it harder for tasks to get completed on time.
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3. Rationalization of our behaviour
Sometimes there isn’t a solid cause for us to procrastinate, but our internal dialogue justifies it for us.
According to a study conducted by StudyMode Student Psyche Report on the 1,300 students listed above, the top common reasons for procrastination were distraction (48%), followed by feeling overwhelmed and unable to decide where to start (40%).
Other key causes for procrastination include:
- Thinking we have more time than we do
- Underestimating how long a task would take
- Thinking that they need to be in a certain frame of mind before beginning a task
- Not knowing where to begin
- Not knowing how to do something
- Thinking we work better under pressure
- Lacking the motivation to do something
- Promising ourselves we will do something straight after we procrastinate
Ever get sucked onto social media and realise you’ve spent an hour doom-scrolling? In this day and age, our phones are like an extra limb for us and we’re often bombarded with new events, notifications or content for us to consume. Whether it be TikTok, the news or Reddit, we’re all guilty of checking our phones more often than we should.
It’s someone’s job to work out how to keep you hooked on that app for as long as possible! With that in mind, it’s no surprise we feel compelled to check our notifications as soon as they pop up!
The Types of Procrastinator
Whether you’re aware or not, not all procrastinators are created equally!
- Active procrastinators are those who purposefully seeking alternatives to the task at hand, as they prefer to work under pressure.
- Passive procrastinators are those who delay tasks due to indecisiveness and acting upon their decisions.
Your procrastination type can also defined by your personality.
- The worrier: struggles to start a task due to fear of not succeeding
- The perfectionist: struggles to start due to fear of not doing the perfectly
- The crisis maker: requires stress or pressure to achieve a task
- The over-doer: commits to multiple tasks but fails to achieve them all
- The dreamer: expects things to fall into place without the necessary work
- The defier: doesn’t like to do jobs set by others that are mundane
Which one do you fall into? Comment below!
How to stop procrastinating!
Now you should understand the causes and types of procrastination there are, but the part you’ve been waiting for: how do I stop procrastinating?
Thankfully there are a number of different solutions that you can try to help you focus and become more productive:
1. Create Lists
Lists are a great way to help you identify your priorities for the day. They also help declutter your mind, so you know exactly what needs doing and by when. These lists should only take 1 minute to create (so don’t spend 20 minutes procrastinating on these)!
If you’re after something to use everyday, why not check out our Daily Check In notepads to help you organise your time and mind!
2. The Pomodoro technique
My favourite method when I need to get something done is called the Pomodoro technique!
The technique is a time management method that is based on working for 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. Each 30 minute cycle is called a pomodoro (or tomato in Italian)!
For extra support, hide your cell phone in a drawer to avoid any temptation!
3. Using technology to fight technology
Technology can be a blessing and a curse! If you keep getting distracted by social media apps or websites, why not try using a time-activated app or website blocker.
Extensions like StayFocusd on Google Chrome sets a timer for websites you choose, stopping you from accessing them during work hours! Phone settings on Android and Apple also have time limits for apps.
To activate these follow the steps below:
- Apple: Go to Settings > Screen Time, then turn on Screen Time if you haven’t already. Tap App Limits, then tap Add Limit. Select one or more app categories.
- Android: Go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls. Tap the chart and tap Set Timer next to the app you want to limit.
Procrastination is something that we all fall victim to every now and again. Whilst in small doses this is OK, if we procrastinate too much it has the potential to impact our lives for the worse.
Through understanding our personality types and using methods to help prevent procrastination, we are able to work out how best to tackle it and become more productive going forward.
So get on out there and become the best version of you!