Here are three ways to avoid procrastinating all the time, according to psychologists. 

Hey there! Have you done your homework, what about your laundry, or that project paper you need to write by the close of the semester? If not, then why are you procrastinating? Be honest: why do you find it hard getting started with, basically anything? According to Psychology Today, procrastination is a common human tendency; and this isn’t because you’re lazy or not effectively managing your time. You’re just scared.

Related media: Procrastination: Crash Course Study Skills #6

Are You Procrastinating?

If you are, you’re not alone, but this isn’t a title for everyone. That’s according to Joseph Ferrari (he has nothing to do with the Italian sports car maker), a professor at DePaul University, the led researcher on this topic and author of the book ‘Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide To Getting It Done.’ He claims as humans we often tend to avoid tasks, though his research finds that nearly 20 percent of both men and women are chronic procrastinators.

“It really has nothing to do with time management,” he says. “As I tell people, to tell the chronic procrastinator to ‘just do it’ would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, ‘cheer up.’“

All psychologists agree that procrastinating isn’t a time management issue but rather a coping mechanism. When you procrastinate, you’re just trying to avoid an unpleasant task at hand by doing something else instead. Timothy Pychyl, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa who studies behavioral psychology, calls it the avoidance behavior: “giving in to feel good.”

Here’s the catch: the shame and guilt accompanied with not performing the tasks can go on and on, and even make you procrastinate even further. The disturbing thing about it is that, the tasks don’t go away, and it’s always there to be done with. In the long run you end up with the tasks to complete, then the emotions kick in again, coupled with the time constraint, too.

Aforementioned, procrastination isn’t a time management issue, and both Ferrari and Pychyl agree on that, too.

“It’s about really dealing with feelings,” says Pychyl. “Emotional regulation, to me, is the real story around procrastination because to the extent that I can deal with my emotions, I can stay on task.”

So, what can you do to avoid procrastinating? Try these three tips next time.

#1. Know What You’re Avoiding

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So what are you avoiding? Like we said, “you’re just trying to avoid something.” So what is it? That’s what you don’t have to avoid and tackling it head-on. Procrastination is rooted in fear — of failure, success, or not being good enough; and that’s a powerful setback. We tend to avoid anything that we feel anxious about, and avoid them by all means. Getting rid of ‘em with something like scrolling through social media feed, makes us feel good, but not better than doing the task itself. So don’t avoid the deal. Just do it!

#2. Learn To Forgive Yourself

Admit it, you end up feeling sorry, and its alright. You’re forgiven. The research of Pychyl and others found that people prone to procrastination are less compassionate with themselves. In a 2010 study about students who forgave themselves for procrastinating for not studying for an exam ended up not doing so in a second exam. If you forgive yourself, according to researchers, it eliminates one of the primary feelings that triggers procrastination: negative feelings. So learn to forgive yourself.

#3. You Better Get Started

Now, what are you doing? You’re still not writing that paper, huh? You better do so, because we aren’t doing it for you, either. We often mistaken our emotions and compare them with the task at hand, but truth is, you don’t feel so, and neither does it. Pychyl recommends that you ignore the feeling and focus on your next plan of action instead.

“Rather than telling yourself, ‘just do it,’ which can be overwhelming,” Pychyl says, “say, ‘just get started.’”

Try breaking down the task into small tasks you feel at ease to handle; and as you complete them one by one, you’ll increase your self-esteem which makes you feel less prone to procrastinate. This makes you feel better and more productive, and by the time you realize, you’re done. Ta-da!

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Mon, Sep 13, 2021.


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