“Tomorrow is usually the busiest day in the week” Spanish saying
Overcoming procrastination is simple! All you need is two things. First, to admit that you are procrastinating. Second you need better time management.
According to Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University- a pioneer of modern research on the subject : “to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”
He goes further and offers a critique of the solutions presented for the problem.
Instead of applying the quick fix, we need to understand the problem on a deep level.
First, let’s try to define procrastination.
“Procrastination” is derived from the Latin verb procrastinare meaning to put off until tomorrow. But it’s more than just voluntarily delaying. Procrastination is also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia — doing something against our better judgment.
Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline. Researchers define procrastination as a “form of self-regulating failure“. Characterized by the irrational delay of tasks, and despite potentially negative consequences.
No need to argue the point about how much procrastination may have a terrible effect on your self-improvement. It may even ruin your professional and social relationships.
But did you know that procrastination can be linked to your physical health as well?
Here’s a study that proves it.
And now, here are 3 principal reasons why you may be procrastinating?
1. YOU TRY TO AVOID PAIN BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE :
Tony Robins describes pleasure/pain as one of the most powerful psychological systems which handles human behavior.
Examples of pleasures: happiness, sensual pleasure, comfort, love, success, validation.
Examples of pain : social rejection, sadness, fear, frustration, being judged, anger.
Experiences define what we call a “nervous nexus”. You built these connections during your childhood and your teenage years through parents’ education. Those “nervous nexus”played the biggest role in developing your personality.
Now, you may be wondering ,what procrastination has to do with this pleasure/pain system?
The answer: It has everything to do with it in fact!
Each experience is either connected to a pain or pleasure in your brain.
Here are some good examples why procrastination is related to this pleasure/pain system.
You know that cigarettes are bad for your health. You are convinced that you may develop a risk for cancer, yet you put off quitting smoking for another time…
You want to join a gym. You see your body in front of the mirror. And you are not satisfied when you see all those love handles, but you defer your diet plan to next month!
Because, what is a source of pleasure for you is a source of pain at the same time….
Cigarettes are bad for health, but they help you “relax”
Sports are good for your health, but after long day of work, you feel exhausted and all you want to do is to lay on the bed in front of your Netflix screen, while watching your favorite series “Queen’s Gambit“.
When your brain receives two contradictory signals, do you know what it does?
Here’s why. Its reaction is this : We are not going to act or do anything until you decide if you want to do it or not!
2. YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM PROCRASTINATION BECAUSE YOU ARE A PERFECTIONIST :
I remember those days when I was perfectionist. How much I wanted each task – even the simplest one-to be perfectly splendid.
The problem is that I did not even know how I recognized that a task was “perfect”. Sometimes, I told myself that it should be as good as it gets! Alternatively, I would constantly wonder if it was good enough, if it was ready, and I would look for an excuse why it wasn’t…
Result: I wasted days even weeks on insignificant details, without ever finishing, or I would postpone it until tomorrow, because on that day, I was not sure IF IT WOULD BE PERFECT.
Perfection is an illusion. It solely exists in our mind. As long as we are human beings, we will never become perfect. Perfection is nothing but an excuse that hides a profound fear of making mistakes. Equal to the fear of failing. Besides, it’s thanks to those mistakes that we improve ourselves. That we evolve.
3. YOU ARE AFRAID OF LOSING OTHERS’ APPROVAL/VALIDATION :
I explain in another article how seeking validation from others (specially our parents) may be a motif for stress. Here; I explain how it can be a reason for procrastination as well.
“Nothing to fear but fear itself!” Franklin Roosevelt.
When you do whatever it takes to please somebody else (a boss, a teacher, a father, a mother, a friend) you go above and beyond! What if he’s/she’s not pleased? What if he/She is still not satisfied? That thought is haunting you day and night. Thus, the best solution to avoid taking risk and therefore you don’t do anything!
The higher social value of a person, the higher the degree in which you may try to please him. Consequently, this also decide to what degree you may procrastinate.
In your subnconscious, a boss, manager, or teacher, represents “authority”. By extension, the perception of this authoritative figure may be due to a lack of fatherly-qualities that you may have experienced early on in your childhood which bring us back to the nervous nexious theory. Your father is the first authority ever in your life.
Note : “Father hunger” makes you project this father image onto other authoritative figures, unconsciously. This may cause you to consider them a “substitute father”.
Here is why a ten minutes task becomes ten times more difficult when you know that your manager/boss/teacher is going to examine it! You have more chances for procrastination.
There are amazing techniques that can help you work on this issue.
Are you identifying with one of the reasons I mentioned above? Which one ? Maybe you know another one ?
Either which way, leave your comment in the section below.
YASSINE BARNAOUI is a freelancer, Blogger and life coach specializing in self-help (self-improvement) & a health coach in Nutrition. Originally a biologist with a Master’s degree in health and nutrition from the science faculty in Tetuan Morocco, he’s a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner and holds a technical certificate in Computer Management. He was able to successfully coach dozens of people. He lives in Morroco. Read More…