November 29, 2018

I’ll Do It Later: The Problem of Procrastination

Anxiety & Depression

Many of us are probably not as efficient as we could be because we put off responsibilities or procrastinate. Some of you may be procrastinating by reading this blog! Procrastination is something everyone in the world deals with at some point. For some, it is a rare issue that occurs maybe once in awhile. But for others, it can be a daily struggle. Unfortunately, we do not have exact conclusions to why we procrastinate, because each person tends to vary in their reasoning for delaying making decisions or acting. Thankfully, there still are strategies that we can use to help us reduce our procrastination.

Understand Your Procrastination Triggers

Homework assignments, filing taxes, scheduling your next dentist appointment, having an important talk with a loved one? What triggers procrastination for you? There are seven common types of triggers: Boring, Frustrating, Difficult, Ambiguous, Unstructured, Not intrinsically rewarding, and Lacking person meaning. Once you understand what tends to initiate your pattern of avoiding, you can engage new strategies to cope with these triggers rather than simply run away.

Make it Look Attractive

If you have an idea of what turns you away from completing tasks, think of ways you can make it easier or beneficial. Procrastination can be seen as a maladaptive coping pattern that focuses only on the short-term benefit resulting in negative consequences. Identify the positive consequences or long-term benefits for doing the task. This will encourage you to jump into a project head on, and savor the results of a finished job.

It Does Not Have to be Perfect, Just Start Somewhere

Work within your bounds. People make the mistake of only setting the goal of the task as “completion”. One strategy is simply making smaller goals. Instead of my goal is to finish this 10-page paper by Friday, it can be write 1 paragraph in 1 hour. This may seem like slow progress, but what happens often times is that once you get started with this small goal in mind, the whole task becomes less daunting. Now that the overall task is less intimidating, you can start planning bigger goals.

Procrastination can be an annoying habit that we have, and sometimes it can balloon into a debilitating struggle. Insight into our pattern can be the simple catalyst that leads to lifestyle change. But when it is a heavily ingrained pattern, we need consistent practice. Reaching out for help can be the first small step toward taking care of your responsibilities and long-term benefits.


Written by therapist Daniel Pak

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