Procrastination–5 things you need to know.

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Imagine trying to build the motivation to write about procrastination! I’m not really on a deadline, I could do this tomorrow… and I do have other things to do, more important things like tend to my social media sites and then there’s my email. There’s more to procrastination than meets the eye, and what follows is a list of things that you need to know. Are you a sufferer? Find out now.

LazyOxFirst, let’s agree that procrastination is not a good habit to have. It damages the likelihood of achieving any goal – pretty obviously, if you never quite take action then the goal can never be reached. So why would people do this to themselves? Remember that everything people do, they do because it makes sense to them at the time.

Procrastinators can be made, not born. People who grow up in a family where there is a very controlling influence never develop the habit of making their own decisions. Later in life they still don’t make decisions, and now since the controlling parent is no longer there to call the shots nothing happens.

They can also be self-made. People who procrastinate lie to themselves. “I’ll feel more like doing this later” or “I do my best work under pressure” are examples. There are times when these statements can be true – writing a report when the builders next door take a break seems like a better time to think than when the jack-hammers are pounding, and a little pressure can add a clearer focus to the proceedings. These kinds of thoughts only become procrastination when they appear even when there are no external stimuli.

There are three types:

  • Thrill seekers, who wait for the last minute to generate a euphoric rush
  • Those who avoid because of what others might think, or because of fear of failure (and fear of success)
  • A special case of avoidance where they avoid making a decision. Not having a decision means that no action is required.

Did you know that about 20% of people procrastinate? Procrastination is for them a lifestyle. Christmas or birthday shopping is left until the day before, bills are not paid on time and they arrive too late to buy tickets for events such as concerts. It isn’t a lifestyle that leads to a bright future, but they do so much of it that it is accurate to describe it as a lifestyle choice.

Procrastination isn’t a trivial problem. It can have a substantial effect on the sufferer and their immediate family and friends. The problem compounds because Western societies tend not to challenge people who procrastinate. “I’m too busy right now”, “There was a death in my family” and we normally just accept it, even when we don’t believe it. We just do the extra work, or figure out another way to get it done that doesn’t involve the procrastinator.

Studies at Universities have discovered that people who procrastinated suffered more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems and more insomnia than the general population. It also flows on to associates who must take the extra load – making decisions, motivating or forcing the sufferer to make a team deadline and that can lead to resentment on their part.

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By the way, procrastination isn’t a time management problem. They are just as good at estimating the time that a task will take, and arranging a schedule to complete the necessary tasks in the right sequence. Research shows that they may be a little more optimistic than the general population, but not everyone who is optimistic procrastinates.

They also look for distractions, things that do not take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking email is an almost perfect example of this. It can be justified as an important task, absolves the reader from making any decisions since now they can simply react to what is in the email, and it really can be done later without measurable penalty. (I wonder of writing or reading articles counts?)

The good news is that it can be ‘cured’. It takes effort on the part of the patient, and the solution depends upon which type of procrastination they suffer from.

Finally – since procrastination is a self-regulation problem people who suffer tend to drink more alcohol than others. (I wonder of there might be a self perpetuating system here? More alcohol can mean less ability to make decisions, not making decisions is a symptom of procrastination, procrastinators have problems regulating behaviour.)

I think I’ll grab a glass of red and check my emails while I think about it. Or maybe I’ll think about it tomorrow, I’m far too busy today.

What do you think?

For more information refer to http://www.psychologytoday.com/. This article was based on information at http://www.psychologytoday.com/.

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