Overcoming procrastination


Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task and it is a challenge that everybody faces at different times. It can seriously derail the achievement of our goals and it is something that needs to be addressed. I will look at the reasons we procrastinate and give you some strategies to deal with it.

There are various reasons that cause you to procrastinate but the underlying cause of procrastination is that you have to do something that is not associated with positive feelings. The task itself in may not be the problem, you have negative emotions associated with the task

Here are the reasons that may be causing your procrastination, you may identify with one or more of them.

The previous experience. If you had negatives feelings while doing the task previously you may not want to experience the same feelings. However, the feelings you had previously while doing the task may not have anything to do with the task itself, you may have been in a bad emotional state for another reason while carrying out the task and that feeling is now linked to the task.

For instance, the student was concerned about not getting the required grade and was in a state of anxiety. The task itself may have been enjoyable but the consequence of how good the task was done created the problem.

Feeling overwhelmed. Using the student example again, he/she was be overwhelmed when the syllabus for the coming year is  received. When something is broken down into manageable steps as to what can be done in a session, the chunking down can now seem manageable.

The task doesn’t fit. This is the case where a person is involved in something that doesn’t fit his/her interest or purpose in life. Working at a job for the sake of the money is an example of this, where it is almost impossible to find the motivation to carry out the tasks. This situation calls for a more drastic response where a person has to start changing career.

Avoiding suffering. When someone is in a bad emotional place due to the present circumstances in life, they may want to engage in pleasant distractions. The person is just not in the right frame of mind to carry out the tasks. Obviously, the person should deal with what are the issues that are causing the suffering as opposed to becoming distracted from them. 

Fantasy versus reality. This is comparing one activity to another. If you keep thinking of what you could be doing that is more enjoyable than the required task, ten your motivation for the task is drained. This is why you should clear your head of everything other than the immediate task you have to undertake.

Emotion is the fuel that feeds action. If you stay focussed on the good emotions from completing the task and on the negative emotions that will result from not completing the task, you are more likely to take action. This is the reason you get more motivated coming towards the deadline of a task due to the emotional consequences involved. This is why many people leave things to the last moment to feel the emotions that will occur by not completing the task.

Taking the first step in the task is the important step when you get started it is easier to stay on the task as a momentum builds up in doing the task. Many people are motivated by the notion that it is better to have the task behind you rather than in front of you.

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