Procrastination: Why Are You Putting Things Off?
Procrastination is a common issue and everyone engages in some degree of procrastination at different points in their life. Procrastination involves putting off things that we want to avoid such as negative emotions, thoughts or activities or to delay things that we find stressful. It may also involve actively seeking distractions or other things to do instead of that activity.
It is estimated that about 20% of all people consider procrastination a serious problem in their lives. Issues such as completing projects, studying for exams or stressful events like going to a doctor or a dentist may result in procrastination in up to 46% of people surveyed.
Why Do People Procrastinate?
There is no clear reason why some people are more prone to procrastination than others. In fact, some people are very aware of their attempts to divert themselves or to put things off while others seem less aware and are constantly reporting that they don't have enough time to get things done. Interestingly enough, the people that don't seem to be aware of their behaviours and choices around getting less desirable activities completed in advance of a deadline often report that they feel that they work best under pressure.
In general most psychologists agree that procrastination, when it is a chronic behaviour that negatively impacts a person's life, is caused by feelings of low self-worth and low self-esteem combined with impulsiveness. When people put off doing a task because they feel they will not be able to complete the task or do it well and, since they are also impulsive, they tend to find things to do that they feel better about until the last possible minute.
Yet other research shows that some types of procrastination may also occur when the undesirable task is boring or when the individual is apathetic towards the task. Since there is no strong personal motivation to complete the task, even if it is important for a job, it is put off since it is not seen as having value to the individual. Inability to manage time and to efficiently predict the length of the task may also be an issue for some people that are constant procrastinators, but it is not the major factor for most.
Making A Change
Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage that can have a very negative impact on an individual's personal and professional life. People can change their mind set about their ability to do things on time, learn time management skills and even learn to focus in on a task that is boring, stressful or undesirable by developing specific skills and positive thoughts about their own abilities.
It is important to realise that it takes assistance from a therapist, counsellor or hypnotherapist to make these mental changes. Simply using a planner or telling yourself to get back to work is not going to be an effective long term strategy. Understanding why you use procrastination as a coping mechanism and then developing a more efficient strategy that works for you personally can allow you to make lifelong, positive changes in getting things done.