Do you feel like you’re lazy and keep avoiding important tasks that needs to be accomplished? And yet, we may not even realise that we’re doing it, but end of the day you end up feeling guilty which leads to inadequacy, depression and self-doubt. Sometimes or really often you have the urge to put off something unpleasant, which needs your effort like homework, exercise, call someone specific like doctor, even washing dishes or a goal you want to achieve. This is called procrastinating that affects all of us and in this article we’re talking about why do we procrastinate.
Mostly we’re doing less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones and time to time procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before deadline. To break list of bad habits, we need to understand why do we procrastinate? Only then can you start identifying your debilitating thought patterns and work on nudging them in the right direction.
It’s more complex than just laziness or bad time management. In fact, every subfield of psychology has a slightly different way of looking at it.
A Neuropsychologist might call it a Failure of Executive Function, or how you plan ahead and prioritise things.
A Social psychologist, on the other hand, might see it as a problem related to emotion regulation, or trying to avoid bad feelings, like stress.
Even though all their approaches to studying it are a little different, researches can agree that procrastinating will makes us unhappy. Often times losing our ambition to succeed and not accomplishing our dreams. So we’re becoming more aware and question why do we procrastinate, and how can we beat it?
Why Do We Procrastinate?
It has been around for centuries as humans not wanting to do things. Many of us haven’t recognised the difference between pleasure and happiness. A Greek poet even wrote about it in 700 BCE, basically warning not to put off you work, or your life will be not so great.
There’re lots of related psychological factors to why do we procrastinate, like how you
manage your goals and self-regulate. On a Neuropsychological level, it can be described as a problem with executive function, which is the skill set that allows us to plan, prioritise, and carry out tasks. Executive Function is the ability to say “I’m gonna do the thing!” and then do it.
Procrastination is the opposite: “I know i need to do the thing, but i’m not gonna do it right now.” Which is why it’s often seen as an failure of executive function.
Other Social Psychology Researchers describe it as failure of mood regulation. Canadian psychology professor Timothy Pychyl says that is “Giving in to feel good”. We’re cashing in a short-term good feeling even though we can be pretty sure it’s going to come back to haunt us later. In other words, it’s an attempt to avoid bad feelings, like the stress or unpleasantness of the task itself. Habitually putting off tasks and pushing off those bad feelings. But future-you will eventually have to confront that stress, which leads us to the past you, the present you, and the future you.
Mood regulation comes in when you accept those feelings of stress and recognise that they’re not going to just disappear later. It sounds like a basic self-discipline, but it can be tricky to deal with the emotions that come with large or difficult tasks.
Take a note, that breaking up big tasks into bite-size pieces is a good strategy, because you are more likely to feel accomplished and positive, also getting started is easier and less intimidating.
Future Self Love & Imagination
Mood regulation Case Study by Dr.Pcyhyl’s research group where they studied how academic procrastination could be linked to how students viewed their future selves.
In an earlier study, a group of researchers at Stanford had asked people to imagine their future selves. They also asked them to picture their present selves, as well as a stranger.
Whole time, the team monitored the subjects neural activity. When some people pictured their future selves, neutrons were activated in similar pattern to when they pictured their present selves. Those people felt a high degree of continuity with who they would be in the future. But other people’s mental images of their future selves activated a pattern of neurons that looked like they were picturing a stranger.
Psyche’s research group built on those results, and found that the people with less future self-continuity (the people who saw their future selves as stranger) tended to procrastinate more. Basically these students didn’t feel as strongly that they’d be the ones feeling the.
Best way to beat procrastination is by remembering that future you is also you. It means that you should remember, you’re going to have to do it sooner or later.
Many people are fairly depressed a lot of time in their lives, without noticing that where depression comes from. You’re avoiding the things you should be doing and end up doing what you want to do. Eventually, you will start getting down on yourself, because on some level you recognise the difference who you are and who you want to be.
First thing to do, is start making a conscious effort to recognise and remind yourself that even though you do not want to do these things in the moment, they are the things that gives you sense of accomplishment and happiness in the long term.
You have to learn to love your future self. Essentially, think of yourself in the future as a the best friend you could ever have.
He would be very happy if you would get up and do important tasks now, instead of putting them off till tomorrow or any other day.
As an example: You could throw all clothes on the floor in a pile or take thirty seconds and hang them in the closet. Small jobs will never pile up into huge jobs, if you would do everything like that.
Self-doubt, frustration and loathing is no for us, so follow these rules below.
Here are 4 Key Points:
- No more zero days.
- Be grateful to the 3 “you”s.
- Forgive yourself
- Exercise and books
What’s a zero day?
It’s a day where you don’t do a single thing towards whatever dream or goal you have. The point is to promise yourself, that you will be living now on by non-zero system.
Haven’t done anything all day and it’s almost end of the day? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter what has been bugging you. Just ONE, because one is non zero.
2)Grateful to The 3 “You”s
If you want to love someone and have someone love you back, you have to learn to love yourself, and the 3 you’s are the key.
Be grateful to the past you for the positive things you’ve done. And do favours for the future you like you would for your best friend. Feeling bad today? Stop a second, think of a good decision you made yesterday.
Salad and tuna instead of Big Mac?
“Thank you, younger me.”
Yesterday was a non zero day, because you wrote couple of words?
“Thank you, younger me”
Second part is to do future self a favour. Alarm goes off and bed is too comfortable? Middle finger to your present self, this one’s for future me; I’m up and going for a 25m run, be rocking out at on every single thing. The cycle of doing something for someone else is future you and thanking someone for the good is past you. It’s key to building gratitude and productivity.
Being disappointed in yourself makes you less productive. Maybe you have all talents, but you still didn’t do it. In order to be who you want to be. I Forgive you, younger me. Today i give best of me for future self. I forgive you.
4)Exercise and Books
When you exercise daily, you will get more productive, smarter, clear minded by getting high from endorphins & dopamine. It’s a big favour for future self.
As for books, everything we’ve all ever thought of, or felt, gone through, wanted to know how to do, has been figured out by someone else. The Someone else has spent huge amount of time of their lives gathering the knowledge and put it into books, that you can learn in a week.
Having Anxiety About Getting Started?
Researchers recommend accepting that feeling, rather than avoiding your work and understanding that getting things done is a way to help get rid of that stress. Besides that you’re also accomplishing important projects.
RECOMMENDED motivation Speech by Shia LaBeouf. You’re welcome!
Related Article: Importance of Goal Setting: How to Set Goals Effectievly