Do you ever get frustrated by a seemingly endless list of tasks? Maybe you have a tendency to put things off at work or in your home life? Despite the negative effects of procrastinating, it is a fairly common issue and, in a sample of adults researched, 20% were identified as ‘chronic procrastinators’.
Procrastination is defined as delaying a task, choosing instead to do a less important activity, despite the negative consequences. As with most things, this starts to become problematic if it is impacting your work, home or social life. Importantly, putting tasks off can increase stress and affect mood, increasing the likelihood that depression and anxiety could also develop.
Why Do We Put Things Off?
We can procrastinate for a whole host of reasons. Sometimes, people put things off because they are overly concerned by the views of others (e.g. not starting an assignment because of not wanting themselves or their work to be negatively evaluated). Others might have a fear of failing, experience discomfort and make excuses in their own minds that it is ‘okay’ to waste time doing an unrelated task (e.g. telling themselves “the deadline isn’t for another two weeks”).
For all people who have found themselves in the procrastination habit, the realisation can finally hit that the task is incomplete and the deadline is looming. This realisation can lead to a huge increase in anxiety, a drop in mood, and may impact negatively on the quality of the work produced.
How Can You Stop Procrastination?
Psychologists can provide assistance, helping you to explore your own pattern of procrastination and getting you started on breaking this cycle. However, there are also some things you can start to put into practice at home. Some tips are outlined below:
If you have identified this as an issue in one or more areas of your life then a Psychologist could provide some guidance based on the latest research. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a collaborative approach where you work alongside a therapist to identify your pattern of putting tasks off. Sessions focus on behaviour change to break tasks down, schedule manageable goals and reverse patterns of avoidance. In addition, cognitive techniques identify and challenge unhelpful assumptions that could be maintaining the procrastination. Psychologists can also work with you to better tolerate negative emotions, such as anxiety, without acting on urges to avoid tasks.