How to Stop Procrastination
Procrastination is a problem which plague our daily lives - some with everything they do.
Procrastination is not only putting things off until the last hour - it is an art of cowardice. It is a manifestation of our fear of complicated work for the simple pleasures and it is one of the hardest habits to control.
I used to procrastincate on the most important projects assigned 2 months prior until 2 days before it was due all the while fearing that the assignment is too difficult when if fact it is only difficult because I created the illusion of its difficulty by procrastinating. While I still procrastinate, it is now much easier to manage. Here, I will discuss the cause of procrastination and methods which I use to control it.
Why do we procrastinate?
Procrastination is setting the priority of simplicity before the difficult. Many times, the simplest thing is to do nothing. My students like me look at the long list of homework in out planner and decide which I should do first. I consider doing one, but then I shift my attention to another, and another, and another before I think - "Screw this, I'm gonna go to sleep".
The underlying Issue of Procrastination
Procrastination has one major cause - DOUBT. Doubt is manifested as an automatic emotion - a conditioned responce like nail biting or cussing. This doubt causes us to automatically feel good or bad about a situation. In the case of homework, most students automatically feel bad - fearful. This fear is derived from overworking, long tiresome nights, getting a zero due because you forgot it at home, difficult long questions, etc. These exeriences condition our minds to automatically shun the idea of doing homework - so we put it off.
On the opposite side, we do not doubt eating because our automatic responce is positive due to our natural biological conditioning that food tastes good. Obviously, if we were forced to eat slugs all courses, eating may fall into the category of a bad thing but we like to eat or play video games because we do not doubt it. We do not doubt it because it does not place stress on our bodies.
Think about it, everything we dread doing always leads to stress and stress leads to doubt and doubt leads to procrastination, and procrastination leads back to stress and so on and so forth. It is diffiult to break this habit because it is circular, much like it is hard to convince a person of opposite religion that you are correct because their beliefs are based on a conditioned circular reasoning assosiated with a good feeling towards their own religion and a hatred towards another.
Here are some other situations and automatic feelings assosiated with them:
- Mowing the Lawn (Feeling Tired)
- Doing homework (Feeling Tired)
- Fixing a car (Feeling Tired)
- Doing a hard long project (Feeling scared that possibly it may be too hard to complete)
- Walking the dog (Feeling tired)
Most of our emotional causes of doubt which is the cause of procrastination is due to the feeling of being tired, or a form of fear.
If these emotions can be contained, then procrastination can be eliminated (or at least reduced)
How to control Procrastination
Controling procrastination a starts with issolating the problem. Why?
- Too long?
- Too Difficult?
- Too Tiresome?
Once the problem is pinpointed, the next step is to ask why and what once again
- What makes it long?
- Why is it difficult?
- Why is it scary?
The point of these questions are to tear the cause of pcrocrastination, an automatic emotional reaction to something down to its source.
I've always been a believer in reasonable decisions - weighing both the positive and negative aspects; however, procrastination occurs when we focus on the negative aspects of things and are too afraid to do it.
It is easier to do what you don't question.
This is exemplified by religion. Most people are born into a religious family, and are raised never to question their deity. It is thus, no problem for them to live with the idea of an invisible sky fairy watching everything you do without the need for any sort of reasonable justification.
This is also exemplified by test taking. When a student is extremely afraid of a test, his/her mind will passively procrastinate - meaning that the mind is trying to put off the test which results in the inability to concentrate and thus, a worse grade.
As exemplified by the examples above, the solution to the automatic negative emotion problem is to think POSITIVE or NOT TO THINK AT ALL. When a negative emotion enters, quickly erase it from your mind by changing the subject.
While, I do not support this kind of ignorant thinking, it is something to consider.
Procrastination is a hard habit to quit. Like nail-biting or hyperventalation, procrastination is a psychological problem, so the only way to solve it is by understanding its cause and by condition the mind to stop.