Don’t put off until tomorrow: Procrastination

Have you ever had that task at the end of your to-do list that never seems to get done? You tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow, then the next day, and the next day… until you are frustrated with yourself for not getting it done. Whatever you try, you just can’t seem to get around to actually doing it.

If you’ve ever felt like this, then you aren’t alone. Professor Joseph Ferrari from DePaul University in Chicago explained in his book, “Still Procrastinating?: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done”, that about 20 percent fo adults are chronic procrastinators. That’s one in five people who experience this putting off of tasks on a regular basis. This rate is higher than other conditions like depression and alcoholism. Ferrari found that chronic procrastination is something we can all experience, regardless of gender, race, or age. Despite this, other studies have noted students to be particularly prone to procrastination, with about half of students displaying this behaviour.

It is also important to distinguish that procrastination is not the same as laziness. But in that case, what is procrastination?

Professor Fuchsia Sirois from the University of Sheffield in England, defines procrastination as “the voluntary, unnecessary delay of an important task, despite knowing you’ll be worse off for doing so”. We often procrastinate tasks we perceive as threatening, a concept well explained in this 6-minute TED-Ed video: 

Most people will procrastinate from time-to-time, but a 2014 study found that chronic procrastination can often be linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, ADHD, and poor study habits. This isn’t always the case, but if you do suspect an underlying mental health condition, it may be a good time to seek help.

Procrastinating can increase our stress and anxiety, so it’s important to understand some of the reasons behind this common behaviour.

A 2022 article by the McLean Hospital noted that procrastination is more likely when we are bored, lack belief in our own abilities, have fear or anxiety related to the task, seek perfectionism, or have an environment conducive to distraction.

Identifying some of these factors can help us combat them and increase productivity.

McLean Hospital also suggests the following strategies for overcoming procrastination:

  1. Just start (even if it means only working for 15 minutes then reevaluating your desire to continue)
  2. Break the task down into small, manageable chunks
  3. Organise your time by prioritising tasks and scheduling deadlines
  4. Designate specific workspaces within your home for the task
  5. Limit distractions by taking steps such as removing your phone from the room
  6. Increase motivation by rewarding yourself for small accomplishments towards your goal or finding positive meaning in the task
  7. Understand that you are not lazy, and it’s okay to seek help if you believe your procrastination may be linked to an underlying condition

If you would like to know more about procrastination, feel free to explore the following articles that helped inform this week’s topic:

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/procrastinate-why-stop-advice/2021/07/09/13b7dc2c-e00e-11eb-9f54-7eee10b5fcd2_story.html
  2. https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/procrastination

We hope you have found this week’s edition on procrastination informative.

Please join us next week for a dive into parenting in this ever-changing world.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

TCS Team

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@anniespratt

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