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Procrastination and Procrastinators: What Should We Do With Them?

Updated on July 26, 2020

It would seem that when you do not have to go to the office, you can use your free time to benefit — for self-development or training. Or do more work without distraction, and then relax.

But many people find with regret and surprise that time has become less, and fatigue-on the contrary, more. Do we spend so much time flipping through the news feed, taking snacks, or watching birds from the window instead of working? Is this procrastination? It seems so.

What is procrastination?
When we are supposed to do something and instead do anything but what is necessary, or simply procrastinate, this is called procrastination. Psychologists attribute most cases of procrastination to unproductive strategies for overcoming discomfort.

We are not comfortable with the work we have to do, so we avoid this feeling with something that gives us short-term "anesthesia" and pleasure. But the task does not disappear, and the time remains less, so the discomfort gradually increases. We either start working in a panic or do another round of procrastination.

Basically, procrastination is really a path to nowhere, because it is always better to do the necessary work than to delay it until the last moment. But, as a rule, we are aware of this already when there is a deadline.

Therefore, it is important to understand the causes of procrastination in order to eliminate them. Also, procrastination does not always indicate that we are disorganized.

What is procrastination like?
Procrastination is an avoidance strategy that occurs if the task itself causes discomfort: we do not know what, how, or why to do it. We are tired or mentally exhausted. Or to work, you need to do things that we don't really like, such as calling someone or using unfamiliar methods of work. When it is too difficult and we are too stressed, we will not be able to work in a state of "flow", or at least just focus on completing tasks step by step.

What should I do with procrastination?
First of all, deal with motivation. Ask yourself what this job will give us: money, appreciation, self-respect, comfort (food, cleanliness), and even liberation from the unpleasant situation of conflict with colleagues or customers. We have to imagine how good it will be when we finally do this. A clear view of future rewards activates the so-called dopamine circuits in the brain and thus puts pressure on the "pedals" of motivation.

It may be that there is no reason to do something at all. If we constantly feel the urge to run away from work, perhaps it really should be done once and for all. Change the scope of your business. But only if instead we find something that we really want to do and that will help us provide for ourselves. Quitting your job as an accountant to watch TV shows is not an option. An option is to become a business consultant, for example.

There are also cases when our brain is not sure that the work process will end with a reward. This happens when the task is difficult, we do not know for sure what to do, and we do not have to wait for help. The brain itself models the situation: "Now I will beat against the wall for a long time, and then it will still not work out, and I will feel insignificant. I'd rather make a cake and be good." We are looking for something that is guaranteed to give us a dose of dopamine and other mediators.

But the problem is that the task will still not disappear. And you will still have to look for help from colleagues or on the Internet. Only after making the cake and late at night.

What should I do in this case? Motivate yourself not so much with success as with future release from the burden and new experiences: "Yes, it will be hard, but next time it will be easier, and soon it will all be over."

There are other cases of procrastination. If it is accompanied by creative thinking, and it is about work that just needs to be taken and done from beginning to end. The pauses and distractions that accompany thinking about a task are useful. Useful ideas often appear during other activities, especially walking and Jogging, and not while sitting at the table.

What are procrastinators like?
Everyone is different, everyone has their own story.

Perfectionists. The fear of imperfection makes you avoid future discomfort by any means. Such people prefer to do everything "perfectly", or not at all.
Neurotics. People who are prone to procrastination do not always clearly understand what exactly, how long, and why they are doing something now, and how they feel about it. As a rule, they have very low self-esteem.
Prone to automatism. Such people have obsessive (automatic) thoughts. Which occur constantly in the head as if by themselves: "everything got", "I want to go home", as well as automatisms associated with work ("what a bore", "I want to get free", "I can't do it", etc.). This is known to everyone who at least once delayed work.
Such automatic thoughts should be the target of procrastination therapy. We need to put them into question: "Can this task be interesting?", "Why did I decide I couldn't do it?", etc.

When we constantly think about the same thing, this process is called "rumination" (letters. «mastication»). It is as if we are trapped in a constant set of thoughts, unable to find a solution or leave this vicious circle to deal with current Affairs

Rumination is one of the manifestations and enhancers of depression and anxiety, as well as stress. Thoughts of complexity, problems, and self-doubt parasitize our minds, increase pre-existing anxiety, and delay work even more. We can think about money, relationships, health, and the economy and get more and more upset, worry, convince ourselves that everything is hopeless (everything can really be serious, no one devalues the problems that cause stress), and thus procrastinate — lose time and energy, self-confidence.

In this case, it doesn't help to say "get it together" or read about time management. It is necessary to understand (independently or together with a mental health specialist) what is the systematic problem of our procrastination and eliminate it. Overcome the very anxiety, depressive disorder, stress.

In the case of procrastination complicated by anxiety or stress, some self-empathy will help. But in the format of encouragement, not pity. It's better to say to yourself, " well, it's hard for me right now. I want to rest, calm down, and admit that I feel bad. But I will do this job and be proud of myself, and then I will rest. Now I need to eat (warm my feet, turn on music, etc.) and work on."

On the other hand, you should realize that in such a situation, work can be quite good therapy in itself. You understand that if you are experiencing a lot of stress, frustration, anxiety, you can cling to the work as a lifeline, and do it step by step. Focus on it, track your progress, make sure that there is definitely less left than there was, and thus find protection and comfort in it. "Flow" may not be, it is worth accepting, but you can just "hammer this rock".

© 2020 Ihtyyar Kylyzhov

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