Scientists define procrastination as the voluntary delay of an action despite foreseeable negative future consequences. It is opting for short-term pleasure or mood at the cost of the long-term outcome.
Yup, that sounds about right. It’s the “feel good now” philosophy 🙂
We can talk forever about Goal Setting Strategies and still find that something gets in the way of our goals. Sometimes that problem is goal clarity. It is very important to have a pretty clear idea of the direction you are heading and why you even want to achieve that goal. The “why” really helps in the painful times, because really, who EVER “feels like” doing anything that is hard. Not me…EVER!
There is a strong partnership between Time Management skills and Emotional Self Awareness (Emotion Regulation) which seems to be the magical combination in goal attainment.
Emotions…sigh….sometimes a super difficult task to understand those pesky little creatures! I know…oh how I know!
My awesome husband describes the process of doing something extraordinarily difficult as pulling a hat out of a rabbit. That always makes me giggle 😉 In this spirit, to get better at tackling procrastination we need to build strong Time Management and Emotion Regulation strategies. Even though working through difficult things seems so overwhelming, these are the times that define us. It is when I have persevered, when I have moved toward the goal even though I did not feel like doing anything, or thought that it was impossible, that I found out what I was made of.
“We are who we are, in the tough times”
~Me, I say this all the time
When I was younger, procrastination was a very real problem for me that had a very detrimental effect on my self-concept. I would often get most tasks done, in the end, after a complete freak out and panic; but often did not produce the best result in the end. Yes, I handed in crap, embarrassing crap, as a student, at times…ugh…
Psych-Nerd Time AGAIN!
Did You Know?
- Emotion-regulation strategies and visions of the future self are the key ingredients in tackling procrastination (Rosenthal, 2015, Stockholm University).
- People who procrastinate are “giving in to feel good,” Dr. Pychyl (Carlton University Procrastination Research Group). Check out his free podcast series!
- Chronic procrastination isn’t actually linked to perfectionism, but rather to impulsiveness, which is a tendency to act immediately on urges, according to Dr. Piers Steel, an organizational-behavior professor at the University of Calgary.
- The mental-health effects of procrastination are well-documented: Habitual procrastinators have higher rates of depression and anxiety and poorer well-being. Dr. Fuschia Sirois, a psychology professor at the University of Sheffield, in England.
- Non-procrastinators better envision and connect with their future selves. Dr. Fuschia Sirois
So, since procrastination is not linked to perfectionism, but rather impulsiveness, use anxiety as a “cue” to get started while combating Temporal Myopia (TM) at the same time!
Seriously, look up what TM is! Super nerdy, but so true, and curable.
Try This Out Today…
Specific Goal Setting: break down long-term goals into smaller, more concrete sub-goals. Instead of saying that you are going to work on a paper on Tuesday, be specific and divide it into manageable sub-goals: “I am going to work on a paper for one hour at 11 a.m”.
Create a Vison: Imagine yourself achieving your goal, how do you feel? Can you “see” yourself in this new accomplished version of yourself? If not, take some time and imagine yourself achieving this goal. If you can’t, maybe this is not the right goal for you. If you can see yourself achieving this goal, expand the vision further by asking the following questions:
- How will I feel when I complete this task?
- Does this task help me in the future? If so, how?
- How do I feel when I break the task down into smaller goals? Less anxious?
- Is this goal mine or is it someone else’s goal for me?
Are you are not following your passion?
…here is something to consider…
When I was working on my Bachelor of Science (BSc) at the University of Alberta, I found myself spending so much more time on my Psychology homework than my Chemistry, Physics and Biology. I would read my Psych stuff before going out to the pub with my friends on a Friday night….Hmmmmm….nerdy I know, but I absolutely love this psych-stuff! This may be why you are procrastinating.
My Advice Today
You: “But I don’t feel like doing it!”
Me: “Do what is right, not what is easy”.
Next week, let’s start working on
Emotion Regulation to combat procrastination.
Let’s pull a rabbit out of a hat!
I love hearing about what works for you!
Dr. Heather Drummond, C.Psych.
Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Flourishing * Human Muddling Through
More Stuff that is Cool
Wall Street Journal (August 2015): Stop Procrastinating, Start by Understanding the Emotions Involved
2013: Procrastination and the Priority of Short-Term Mood Regulation: Consequences for Future Self
Nice blog Doc!
I guess I better do some work tonight!! And a walk!! You in?
•Chronic procrastination isn’t actually linked to perfectionism, but rather to impulsiveness, which is a tendency to act immediately on urges*
I never thought of it like that, but it’s totally true.
Hi Audriana! Isn’t it cool when we see things from a different perspective? So powerful 🙂 I am glad that you liked the blog post!
I have personally struggled with procrastination, especially since I began college. In high school I was an extraordinarily diligent student, but it seems I have lost all motivation. I really appreciated the quotes regarding procrastination, specifically the one from Shakespeare, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” I agree that procrastination in giving in to feel-good mentalities. The reason I do not complete my homework faster is because I don’t feel like it; I would rather do something else with my time such as watching movies or working. The tips to set specific goals and to break down larger goals into more accomplishable steps is very helpful for me. It diminishes the overwhelming aura of large goals.
Hi Tonia! You are NOT alone in this “feeling” 🙂 I can write on procrastination very well because I completely understand it 😉 It sure is a process. I am glad that this blog post was able to provide you some perspective and strategies. Heather
I have personally struggled with procrastination, especially since I began college. In high school I was an extraordinarily diligent student, but it seems I have lost all motivation. I really appreciated the quotes regarding procrastination, specifically the one from Shakespeare, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” I agree that procrastination is giving in to feel-good mentalities. the reason I do not complete my homework faster is because’I don’t feel like it; I would rather do something else with my time like watch movies or work.’ The tips to set specific goals and break down larger goals into more accomplishable steps is very helpful for me. It diminishes the overwhelming aura of large goals.