Permanently Ending Procrastination, Part 1

Why does procrastination cause stress?

Another common yet pervasive source of stress in modern society is procrastination or habitually putting off the completion of tasks.

Procrastination is considered a stressor because it often causes delays and forces people to cram at the last minute. Procrastination consequently leads to even more stressful situations.

Procrastination can take several forms:

  1. Performing easier tasks in favor of starting the more difficult ones.
  1. Choosing pleasurable activities over more important activities.

iii. Performing a series of less valuable activities so you won’t have to start on what you’re supposed to be doing.

99% of the time, people experience regret after they have procrastinated because they have less time to complete what they should have started some time ago.

A person may feel satisfied and happy while procrastinating but it’s a completely different story when deadlines begin to close in and the procrastinator realizes that he had already ‘spent’ most of the available time that he has.

Why do people procrastinate?

In order to beat procrastination, we have to understand why people habitually resort to it in the first place:

  1. Discomfort – It’s no secret that every valuable endeavor or activity involves some level of discomfort. Exerting effort and spending energy on something is necessary to produce meaningful outcomes.

When a person has a very low threshold for mental, emotional or physical discomfort, he may procrastinate so as to delay experiencing discomfort.

A low threshold is the most common reason for putting off different activities. Most of the time, people are unaware of their own discomfort thresholds and so the choice to procrastinate is driven by a subconscious desire to avoid discomfort.

  1. Fear of a Fiasco – Some adults are so afraid of failing at something that they simply put off doing things for as long as they can.

When a person is afraid of failure, he envisions all the mental and emotional discomforts that he will experience if he does not succeed in accomplishing a task satisfactorily. Individuals who believe in perfectionism are more likely to procrastinate because of a general fear of failure.

  1. Fear of Rejection and/or Censure – There are some situations where a fully capable adult becomes hesitant to do something because he feels that someone (most like an authority figure) will disapprove of his actions.

This fear is rooted in the belief that other people’s valuations are much more important than your self-valuation. For example, a person who has wanted to learn how to paint may procrastinate indefinitely because he feels that other people will say that his paintings are ordinary or ugly.

  1. Refusal to Do Something – When a person feels that it is unfair that he has to do something, he will naturally avoid doing the said task for as long as possible.

A person may become increasingly frustrated and angry as the deadline for the task approaches. When he has to work twice or thrice as hard just to finish the task, the person can become even more stressed at his situation.

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If one or more of the reasons stated above applies to you, know that these are all just mental states and you can consciously override them in favor of more positive and productive behavior.

You can begin overriding the tendency to procrastinate by following these steps:

  1. Don’t Overthink – Overthinking something is never a good choice because it is exhausting to cycle the same thoughts in one’s mind repeatedly, without ever resorting to any type of action.

Instead of thinking of doing something again and again, just do it. Remember Nike’s slogan “just do it”? It’s the perfect slogan for procrastination!

  1. Change Your Mindset – Many people procrastinate because they want to delay discomfort or tension.

Instead of thinking that you are freeing yourself of any discomfort, think of procrastination as prolonging the discomfort because you will end up remembering all the things you have to do, even if you’re not actually doing them at the moment.

  1. Plan Ahead – If you feel anxious about the outcome of something you have to do, you can reduce your anxiety or doubts by creating a plan ahead of time. Be sure to write down the details of what you have to do and your actual plan.

Usually, we view things differently when they’re set on paper. Things that appear to be horrible or too challenging appear easier to control and manage when you write down the exact details. If this works for you then repeat this process whenever you feel like procrastinating.