Over the years, researchers all over the globe have tried to understand the causes and effects of procrastination as it has been remarked often as a strong hindrance to the productivity of the workforce and students. I, over the course of my career, have often seen many young students succumb to the distractions generally attributed to procrastination. Many psychologists pin down procrastination as a normal human tendency to avoid getting riled up in work. Yet, the question remains ‘What causes us to Procrastinate’ and ‘How can we overcome this languid state of affairs’. It is necessary to understand the causes and work towards getting better at the seemingly imminent task of overcoming procrastination.
According to Joseph Ferrari, a leading researcher on the subject and psychology professor at De Paul University, ‘While everyone may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator.’ He further expands in his book ‘Still Procrastinating?: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done’ that the major issue while understanding procrastination is to constantly remind us that procrastination is not to be blamed on the time management of the individual but the coping mechanism. When we’re constantly procrastinating, we’re avoiding an unpleasant task and bargaining it for pleasure with some meandering task.
This act develops a shameful feeling inside us, resulting in us not doing what we’re supposed to do and creating a vicious cycle of self-depreciation and a pile of unfinished tasks. The first step towards overcoming procrastination is to acknowledge your futile attempts at doing something unpleasant when you’re supposed to work. This acknowledgement comes with an understanding that one is not lazy or has bad time management skills. The root causes of procrastination lie deep in anxieties and fears of ‘not-being-good-enough’. We feel anxiety when we’re pushed to do things that make us uncomfortable, so naturally, we avoid them at all costs. Instead of looking for temporary fixes, we ought to work towards what we must do.
The next step after the acknowledgement is to start forgiving yourself and not delve into the depths of despair, making it hard for you to jump back into a healthy state of being. Developing a growth mindset comes with positive reinforcement by continuous efforts over some time. Succumbing to negativity is the antithesis of developing a growth mindset. Researchers say employing self-compassion works because procrastination is linked to negative feelings. When you forgive yourself, you’ll reduce the guilt you feel about procrastinating, eliminating one of the primary triggers for procrastinating.
Verbalising one’s tasks for the day can help get into an active mode of working towards managing the tasks of the day succinctly and at the same time, might release endorphins; triggering your body to positively reinforce and congratulate. Thus, getting you out of the self-deprecating cycle of not doing good enough.
We have to realize that avoiding procrastination is a habit that is formed by constantly striving towards a better work habit and thus in the end a positive reinforcement that helps develop a growth mindset. I have seen people try the various state of affairs to overcome the lethargy caused by constant procrastination and one that stands out is the one by Brain Tracy. Mr Tracy in his 2001 bestseller titled ‘Eat The Frog’ argues that one has to develop a continuous habit of doing the hardest task at the earliest, in his case, in the morning to get out of the vicious cycle of procrastinating. Tracy’s logic behind the book is to start the day with the biggest priority when you are still fresh. Your top priority is the frog because they’re not the easiest thing to eat. As the day goes on, you get tired and your willingness to do more difficult tasks decreases. I, in my own capacity, often find it useful to try out some of the suggestions aforementioned. With constant efforts and a positive state of mind, one can defeat the most meandering of tasks and thus grow professionally as well personally. The key is to keep striving for better.