In this post, I explain how to cope with procrastination. I describe what procrastination is, why it occurs, and what you can do about it.
As a clinical psychologist, I’m often asked for my view on certain challenges people have. I’ve been consulted about a particular scenario:
“I hope you can help me understand something that I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. When faced with assignments, or really any task I need to do, I keep putting it off. When it gets to the time that the work has to be completed, I end up rushing. The worst thing is I’m wound up and the job isn’t done as well as it should be.”
What we’re talking about here is procrastination. Why does that occur? It is usually due to fear – fear of success or fear of failure. This fear is due to experiences that we have had during our lives. We learn that certain situations are threatening to us. For example, succeeding – it’s seen as a potential threat to us, we’re afraid to succeed or we’ve learned that failing is not an option based on earlier life experiences. We then become afraid of that particular situation occurring.
When we procrastinate, the pain of doing something is greater than the pain of not doing it. But, as the deadline approaches, things flip and the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it! We then rush to complete the task. When that occurs we go into a state of increased arousal where stress hormones are released and our rational thinking is impaired. When we’re rushing things, we’re not doing our best job – there is a solution of course.
How to cope with procrastination
An example – if you have an appointment at 10am, instead of leaving it to the last moment to get there, leave with plenty of time to arrive at 9.55am. That way, you’re calm and you’re relaxed, it makes intuitive sense. The same principle can apply when we are faced with a particular task. Set your goal and set the date you have to have the project completed by. You do the three Ps: PLAN, PREPARE, PROCEED.
PLAN: work out what you need to do and when you need to do it by.
PREPARE: get things in place to make it happen.
PROCEED: once the plan is in place, and you’ve prepared, proceed get the job done.
By aiming to get a task completed well in advance of the deadline, you remain calm, you think clearly, you think rationally, and the job gets done and it gets done well.
I want you to achieve your maximum potential and be the best you can possibly be. Please peruse my other posts and view my YouTube channel to help take you to the next level.
You can view Michael speaking about Procrastination on YouTube.