Procrastination: why we do it, and how not to do it

For many of us in our studies, or in other walks of like, procrastination is something we’re always warned about, but we normally can’t avoid it in some form. From binging your favourite series on Netflix, to tidying your room, we can always find something else to do that delays facing the task we’re “supposed” to be doing. Now, this isn’t to say that procrastinating is a lazy thing. Quite the opposite! When we procrastinate, it’s an active choice to do something else, whereas being lazy is being unwilling. So, we want to do -something-, but we also don’t want to do the intended task, so we actively seek something else to do. Because it helps to define these things, procrastination can be defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something”. Say you have an essay or article to write, instead of actually writing it, you instead clean the dishes, or read a book, or something that isn’t writing. It’s a habit most people may have had at some point, and that’s okay! It’s a difficult thing to avoid, but there are techniques you can try to avoid it. We’ll try to point out a few, because what may work for some may not apply for others. We’re all different, after all. Now, the first tip we’ve got: recognize when you’re procrastinating. The first step to correcting something is to acknowledge the mistake, and with procrastination, it’s a similar principle. If you can recognize when you’re procrastinating, it’s a good first step to breaking the habit. If you must delay a task because of a genuine reason, then you’re not actually procrastinating. But if it takes too long to switch your focus back, then it goes back to procrastinating. After you’ve recognized when you’re procrastinating, now we go to “why”. This is usually dependent on the task itself. If it’s a task you find unpleasant, of course you’re going to not want to do it, it’s completely understandable. Ironically enough, perfectionists also tend to procrastinate, usually because of anxieties over whether they have the proper skills. On a related note, the fear of failure can sometimes be enough to cause procrastination. Sometimes, it might be because of suboptimal organization. A cluttered diary can look very unpleasant, so we tend avoid these tasks.         Now that we’ve talked about the steps to getting over procrastination, here are a few tips to finally push yourself into productivity!
  • Proper organization: if you can space your schedule out enough, what may have been insurmountable tasks become much more manageable, which makes it less likely to procrastinate
  • (Realistic) Goal-setting: if you give yourself an objective to complete, with a reward waiting when you do, that can help with making sure you get the task done. Just be careful: if your goal is too lofty, it can actually make things worse. If your goals are too low, you might not get enough done
  • Use your “Power Hours”: do you work better in the morning, or in the evening? If you can identify when you’re most productive, it’s better to work at those hours. This may require some trial-and-error, but you’ll get there!
  • Forgive yourself: again, most people will have procrastinated at some point. What’s important is to forgive yourself; you’ll feel better about yourself, which should motivate you to follow through with your tasks.
  • Break down your task: this ties in with goal-setting, but if you’ve got a large task to complete, breaking it down into its smaller stages can make things much easier for you. It also helps you to track your progress through that task
  • Do the worst, first: if you get the “worst” tasks out of the way first, it can make the rest of your day much better. Instead of having that negativity in your head, getting it out of the way can brighten the rest of your day
  • Actively Procrastinate: yes, we’re serious here! If you make the active choice to procrastinate, as opposed to doing it subconsciously, it can make you feel like you’re in control, and have a proper plan. If you’re someone who works best under pressure, then you can make yourself feel challenged, and get into the mindset with the benefit of more time (maybe).
And there we have a great many methods of coping with procrastination. We almost certainly didn’t cover all of them, so if you have a better method, let us know! Now get out there and be productive!