Procrastination

Procrastination is the situation where you negligently delay the process of getting something done, despite possible negative consequences. To some extent, procrastination is a familiar condition for all of us.

From continual coffee breaks (instead of completing work tasks) to postponing the payment of bills (which leads to penalties for late payment).

Suppose you face a deadline in your project or need to get ready for an important exam. But instead of finishing the task, you go to a party with friends or start puttering about the house doing some mindless activities. Sounds like you? Then it's very likely that you’re also a procrastinator.

Before psychologists invented the term "procrastination" everything was clear. Those who postpone things are lazy, and it's bad to be lazy. Nowadays, the attitude to this issue has changed. Procrastination is seen as being different than laziness. In addition, procrastination itself is not necessarily a problem.

Types of Procrastination

Psychologists divide procrastination into two main types: delaying things and avoiding making decisions. Each of these types has its own reasons, and you need to deal with them in different ways.

Delaying things happens, for example, when a person has a gap between intention and action, low consciousness, or poor self-organization. In this case, conscious actions related to goal setting and time management can help. For example, the Eisenhower matrix of priorities.

When it comes to avoiding decision, things are a little more complicated. This phenomenon has more complex psychological reasons. For example, the fear of defeat (or victory), a conflict of interest, or problems with self-esteem. To understand this type of procrastination, you need to develop the skills of self-observation and introspection. In this case, psychological help is sometimes required.

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What Makes Us Procrastinate?

Some reasons for procrastination are not as obvious as they may seem. While studying the topic, I was surprised to find one of them. The desire to control everything. I, for one, like to feel that I am in control of my life to some extent. In the past, if the issue of control was too acute, I resorted to a special kind of procrastination. To resist every rule and reject every request. In this case, procrastination became my strategy for fighting for independence. If a close person asked me to do something for them? Well, no, not now.

Another example. Procrastination before going to bed. The familiar "I'll go to bed, but later, in the meantime I'll watch TV and read a book" forces us to accumulate a lack of sleep. Which can eventually become fraught with health problems (like sleep deprivation). In this case, my advice is to understand why you are fighting with yourself, what you are running from, and start taking care of your health.

Interestingly, procrastination like this, is often the reason for low employee engagement. Participants in my leadership courses often ask this question. Why are their team members opposed to completing tasks? Here's the answer. This is a way of fighting for your independence.

In this way, procrastination can become such a habitual action that we no longer realize its true causes. It even comes to the point where we begin to resist our own decisions. To cope with this, you first need to understand why defending your autonomy has become so important for you. When there is some internal resistance, learn to ask yourself: "What am I reacting to?". Do you resist real or imaginary threats? To be truly independent, you must be able to consciously choose what (and what not) to fight.

In the second part of our article we'll talk about the dangers and benefits of procrastination as well as the procrastination loop.

Interest in upgrading your skills? Check out our trainings.

Oleg Soldatov
Communication and personal effectiveness consultant

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