Why people are procrastinating?
Procrastination can be defined as the avoidance of urgent tasks in favour of less important ones or putting off tasks to a later day and time.
Albert Ellis (1979) stated that procrastination has higher costs and that people who procrastinate may suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, irrational thinking; as a result some people may fail to achieve higher potentials so he defined procrastination as a very difficult condition to cure.
Lack of motivation is one of the reasons why people procrastinate; however, Burns (1989) argued that you do not need to feel motivated to begin a task and that “doing” comes first, then motivation.
Fear of failing is also another component of procrastination. Sometimes parents can put their children under a lot of pressure to achieve impossible tasks, this can create a belief that the person is not worth it so you start to procrastinate to avoid important tasks.
Rebellion and resistance are other components of procrastination against some forms of power or expectations imposed on you by a parent or teacher. It is always better to understand to whom you are rebelling to and to live your life according to your rules instead of reacting to decisions made by other people.
When I am procrastinating I find useful to think about these strategies:
- Breaking the task into smaller steps is a useful way to start working on your project without feeling overwhelmed by it.
- Use a timer or a clock to time everything you do and how long you will take to do certain tasks; by making a schedule for the day this will help you to stay focus and you will be amazed by how much can be achieved in a short time frame.
- Schedule your time to procrastinate so in that space of time you are allowing yourself to surf the internet, chatting to friends or do nothing at all. In this way, this will become a choice instead of a delay led by your procrastination.
- Accept yourself with all your flaws by writing a daily list of appreciation of the things you like about your life and that you are proud of.
However, understanding the underlying causes of your procrastination may require you working with a qualified therapist who can help you to identify the rules and assumptions that gave rise to your procrastination and questioning whether these assumptions and rules are realistic, fair or helpful.
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About Gherardo Della Marta
Gherardo Della Marta BACP counsellor in private practice in W10, NW1, WC1B in London