“I’ll do this work later; let me read this article first.” Is that what you were thinking? Procrastination is a pretty common habit but only until it becomes chronic and starts affecting your studies, career or relationships. And the guilt, stress and anxiety it brings with it can also cause other issues if it gets serious. In short no one intends to do it but they often end up procrastinating and running last minute.
Procrastination has been defined in simple words as “The practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, thus putting off impeding tasks to a later time.” The normal mechanism of procrastination starts with discovering or receiving a task. One’s self-control is the core factor that drives the person to start the task. And this self-control is supported by motivation. Now this becomes difficult when the motivation runs off. When a person is demotivated it becomes hard for a person to complete the task or even start the task (as seen in most cases). This demotivation can have many underlying causes. The causes might include
- Fear and anxiety of failing at the task or getting negative feedback. This can also involve self-esteem issues.
- Finding the task overwhelming which leads you to snap out.
- Focusing on rewards that are in far future.
- Perfectionism which may lead to unrealistic expectations.
- Poor time management.
- Difficulty with concentrating.
- Lack of energy.
- Finding the task boring.
The tips for these problems aren’t unheard and it’s easier said than done. Breaking the task into small bits, making a schedule for it and keeping a reward for completing a task might help. Or prioritizing tasks and minimizing distractions might help. But if you couldn’t be consistent with these and nothing seemed to work for you, asking for a help isn’t bad. A mental health practitioner can help with it through Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people to learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior and emotions. CBT uses techniques that help a person to reflect positively and work on it thoughtfully. Some of the common CBT techniques are:
- Behavioral Activation: It helps to change a person’s approach towards task after analyzing that person’s traits and the continuous cycle of procrastination.
- Mindfulness Training: Procrastination often leads to a roller coaster of emotions which drains a person’s energy. This technique makes the person to become aware of the task and approach it logically or rationally rather than approaching it emotionally. This is done by the first step which is making a person acknowledge his/her emotions without judging them. This can help in reducing the weight off the mind.
- Stimulus control: This method helps is monitoring the stimulation that leads to procrastination. This eliminates the distractions one isn’t conscious about.
Many other such techniques are used and a person can improve his/her habits or get back on track.
Procrastination can affect self-esteem and negatively impact one’s life if it becomes a habit. It is related to many mental health issues. In a study conducted in 2010, “I’ll go to therapy, eventually” it was found that procrastination and stress are closely connected and high levels of procrastination is linked to poorer mental health and fewer actions taken to look after mental wellbeing. It is obvious that one’s health might deteriorate in a number of ways. For example, if you are putting away an assignment and scrolling through social media, you might be straining your eyes and spine. Or if you are delaying the work assigned in office, you might be using escaping mechanism which can eventually detach you from a particular environment, whether it be by bunking it or by day dreaming while work.