Procrastination is the act of delaying tasks needlessly. Procrastination becomes a disorder when we start deferring things knowingly and to the point of causing self discomfort. But why do we procrastinate? We become chronic procrastinators and avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions. For example, students postpone preparation of exams until the last moment. It starts from there and gradually we develop a certain mindset of keeping things hanging in the air till it begins to hurt. This attitude later becomes a habit and increasingly leads us to become a chronic procrastinator.
For most of us, the word procrastination reminds us of past experiences where we have felt guilty, lazy, inadequate, anxious, or stupid–or some combination of these.
Causes of procrastination
- Perfectionism: for many who try to be perfect at each and every task it becomes difficult to achieve the goals. Not all books are to be read word by word; some you read for pleasure, some for serious academic engagement and some just to gain knowledge and be informed. Similarly not all types of chores needs the same perfection. While ‘perfectionism’ in a person should be lauded, it is more important to finish the task at hand rather than finding the ideal time of doing it.
- Setting unreal goals: this problem goes hand in hand with the first one. The task itself should be achievable in the given time. Putting too much pressure on oneself will only lead to escaping from the undaunted task.
- Lacking time management skills: this is a skill you need to develop. If we lead too protected lives, where you’ve your mom who will prepare and serve food for you, your dad handling all your professional decisions, your friend preparing your PPT’s, you will never learn time-management. While all of us are somewhat more dependent on one to three persons in our lives, it’s best that you learn growing up independently.
- Acceptance of another’s goals: if a project has been imposed or assigned to you and it is not consistent with your own interests, you may be reluctant to spend the necessary time to see it to conclusion.
- Lacking task related particular skills: it is most human not to possess all the skills. If you cannot do it on your own, it’s always good to be upfront about it.
Although the causes mentioned above are likely the causes of procrastination, it should be known that ‘although procrastination is delay, all kinds of delays cannot be clubbed as procrastination’. Procrastination involves a complex interaction of behavioural, cognitive and affective components. The treatment method opted by counsellors / psychologists has been mostly to alter it by trying to improve upon time management and study skills. But a successful intervention for procrastination rarely consists of a single ingredient treatment strategy. Affective intervention includes building of cognitive behavioural strategies. A few tips to start with on how not to procrastinate would be as follows:
- Maintain a diary and prioritize your tasks. Set time limits.
- Try using app method. It will not only help you to set a reminder but organize your tasks as well.
- Give yourself appropriate breaks. “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy”, remember?
- Set small goals and plan for a longer period.
- Reward yourself for every task you complete.
- Set a fake deadline before the actual one.