We’ve all done it. Spent hours and hours scrolling on social media to put off sending that email. Or started binge watching a new tv series to forget about the mountain of work in your peripheral vision. It is so tempting to just give yourself another half hour or so before starting work, but sometimes that can turn in to several hours.
Some procrastination is harmless but what if we procrastinate most of our goals? We have put together a useful post to raise the most important issues around procrastination and some tips on how to prevent it in the future!
So, what is procrastination?
Procrastination is the action of delaying tasks until the last minute, or sometimes past their deadline, despite the potentially negative impacts this may create. Usually, time spent procrastinating is filled with other more trivial activities, such as shopping online, watching TV, or doom scrolling on social media. Although in most cases, procrastination isn’t a serious problem it is still important to be mindful of its impact and how to avoid doing so – especially when deadlines are approaching!
Some researchers classify procrastination as either passive or active. Passive procrastinators delay the task because they have trouble making decisions and acting on them. Active procrastinators delay the task purposefully because working under pressure allows them to feel more motivated and challenged. Other researchers define types of procrastinators based on different behaviours. There are quite a few of these and a full list can be found here, but we have also listed a few below:
- Perfectionist – puts off tasks out of fear of not being able to complete them perfectly
- Worrier – puts off tasks out of fear of leaving their comfort zone
- Over-doer – takes on too much and then struggles to find the time to complete tasks
Negative Effects of Procrastination
The negative short-term effects of procrastination are obvious. For example, if you procrastinate a school assignment this may lead to a decrease in the quality of work, lack of sleep, increased anxiety and possibly a decrease in your actual grade. Although these may seem like small forfeits that have no lasting impact on your life…they are not.
Procrastination can have a major impact on different areas of our lives, especially if we procrastinate most or all of the tasks we hope to complete. It can affect our grades, career, social relationships, and even mental stability. For more information on the negative effects of procrastination, go to Lifehack.
Why do we do it?
It’s clear that the negatives outweigh the positives when we procrastinate. So, why do we do it in the first place? There are a multitude of reasons as to why we do this, some of which are:
- Waiting until you’re in the right frame of mind to begin certain tasks (especially those that you do not want to do)
- Delaying one task in favour of working on another one
- Forgetting that the task needs completed in the first place
- Underestimating how much time and effort it will take to complete the task
- Being in the habit of pushing things back until the last minute
- Not caring if something gets done or not
How can we combat it?
As always, small steps in the right direction that lead away from procrastination work best. The simple repetition of these baby steps will help you balance your work to life ratio. These are as follows:
- Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past. Although this can sometimes be used for motivational purposes, more often than not it can hang over us like a dark cloud and make us want to delay tasks even more.
- Make a to-do list. This will help you clearly lay out what your goals are for a single day and assist you when you’re trying to prioritise certain tasks. It is also unbelievably satisfying to tick things off as your day continues.
- Eliminate distraction. This step is pretty self-explanatory. Remove any device or object that might cause you to lose concentration over your work. This can sometimes be difficult as we rely more and more on our phones, tablets and laptops. It’s helpful to use only one device at a time (if possible), and to turn off all others and set them away from your workspace.
- Ask someone to check up on you. Knowing that someone will be checking in to make sure you’re remaining on task holds you accountable and helps curb the urge to go on your phone for ‘just two minutes.’ Alternatively, you can set up a time-lapse of yourself studying using your phone or have a remote study session with your friend.
- Commit to the task for a few minutes. Sometimes, our fear or apprehension of the task ahead can block our motivation to get started at all. Usually, when you begin to actively partake in the task, it seems less daunting and much more achievable.
That has been our wrap-up of procrastination and how best to combat it! If you found this helpful, you can also find our scheduling resources here.