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June 24, 2021
Olivia Surtees

Researchers and psychologists have concluded that the reason we procrastinate isn't that we're lazy or unmotivated. It has more to do with the fact that we don't experience positive emotions when we think about the task ahead. 

We've all been there; we're happier spending hours creating our "to-do" lists and planning the following months of our life than working on specific tasks. 


Or, perhaps you're the kind of person that finds anything and everything in the house that needs a good clean to avoid the mounting emails in your inbox.


Regardless of how you procrastinate, we all know that doing so will ultimately leave us feeling guilty.


So, why do we do it? And, is procrastinating as bad as everyone makes out?


What Is Procrastination? 


Simply put, procrastination is putting off the task that we need to do, whether writing a report or going for a run. When we procrastinate, we focus on short-term tasks that stop us from doing essential things.


Using sentences like, "I'm too busy" and "I have so much to do first" makes it more justifiable in our minds.


Why We Procrastinate?


Researchers and psychologists have concluded that the reason we procrastinate isn't that we're lazy or unmotivated. It has more to do with the fact that we don't experience positive emotions when we think about the task ahead. 


So, those that think having an app on their phone and keeping a daily planner will help with procrastinating may be let down. It turns out that it has a lot less to do with your self-discipline and a lot more to do with your happiness levels!


When we know we have to take on a task that makes us feel scared, anxious, overwhelmed, angry, miserable, or bored, we will push it as far away from us as possible until we have to face it (this is typically a few hours before a deadline, for example!).


What's So Bad About Procrastinating?


Procrastination only delivers short term relief to stress and anxiety and ultimately makes them both worse in the long run.  It can also reduce levels of motivation or self-control.


When you procrastinate due to negative feelings towards a specific job, you initially boost positivity. But then you get hooked on receiving this boost and opt to prolong this feeling as long as possible.


So, yes, it is a problem because it keeps you stuck in a cycle of negative and semi-positive emotions rather than allowing you to work through the negative emotions.


How Can You Stop Procrastinating?


Figure Out Which Tasks Give You The Most Negative Emotions.


Seeing as procrastination is caused by negative emotions about specific tasks, the first thing you need to do is identify which ones cause you to feel negative and why. Do you feel particularly anxious when you do something because you're worried you're not intelligent enough to do it? Are you overly stressed about a specific project that you feel worked up every time you think about working on it?


Stop Doing The Tasks Or Prioritise Them


Once you've figured this out, try to stop doing the tasks (if you can and don't need to do them for work or education, etc.) Or prioritise them. Getting things that you're not so keen on out the way as soon as possible allows you to feel accomplished once completing them.


Remove Procrastination Props


If it's harder for you to engage in procrastination, you're less likely to do so because it will take a lot of effort. So, reduce the likelihood of procrastinating by removing anything that might trigger this. For example, putting your phone on charge in another room or turning it off will reduce the likelihood of you sitting and scrolling on social media.


Don't Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself


Contrary to what some productivity coaches might say, putting too much pressure on yourself to be productive can cause you to procrastinate.


If you notice yourself procrastinating, don't panic and start to beat yourself up about it. Please take it in your stride, stop it and forgive yourself for it. You won't benefit from making yourself feel guilty for every second you're unproductive. You might do yourself harm if you're this rigorous with your productivity regime!


There You Have It -Procrastination Is About So Much More Than Lack of Self Control


Now that you know procrastination isn't just a simple trap you fall into because you're bad at prioritising, it's time to take a deeper look into what you're avoiding.


Just remember to be kind to yourself and not pressure yourself too much into intense productivity mode -it is OK to procrastinate from time to time. Just don't get sucked into a circle of never-ending to-do list creation and washing up!


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