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Do you find yourself procrastinating?

Updated: Apr 21

Anna’s Procrastination Problem

Anna was due to complete a project due in two weeks. She knew it would take a lot of time and effort to complete, but she kept putting it off. She told herself that she still had plenty of time and that she worked better under pressure. She also felt anxious and overwhelmed by the project, so she avoided thinking about it.

Instead of working on the project, Anna spent her time doing other things that were more enjoyable or less demanding. She watched Netflix, scrolled through social media, played video games, cleaned her room, and hung out with her friends. She also did some other assignments that were easier or more urgent, but not as important.

As the deadline approached, Anna started to panic. She realised that she had wasted too much time and that she had no idea how to do the project. She felt guilty, stressed, and frustrated with herself. She wished she had started earlier and planned better. She tried to cram as much work as possible in the last few days, but she knew it was not enough. She ended up submitting a poor-quality project that did not meet the requirements or expectations.

Does this sound like you?

Procrastination can have serious negative effects on your health, well-being, and performance.

  • Increased stress and anxiety. Procrastination can cause you to feel overwhelmed, guilty, and frustrated with yourself. It can also make you worry more about the task you are avoiding and the potential outcomes of not completing it. This can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety, which can affect your mood, sleep, and immune system.

  • Lowered academic or work performance. Procrastination can affect your quality and quantity of work. If you delay or rush your assignments, projects, or tasks, you may make more mistakes, miss deadlines, or produce subpar results. This can harm your grades, reputation, or career prospects. It can also reduce your satisfaction and motivation for your work.

  • Reduced well-being and happiness. Procrastination can interfere with your personal and professional goals and values. It can prevent you from achieving what you want or need in life. It can also affect your relationships with others, as you may disappoint them, break promises, or avoid communication. Procrastination can lower your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-compassion.

  • Worsened physical health. Procrastination can have negative effects on your physical health as well. It can cause you to neglect important health behaviours, such as exercising, eating well, or visiting the doctor. It can also increase your risk of developing chronic conditions, such as insomnia, digestive problems, muscle tension and pain, or cardiovascular diseases.

Procrastination is not a harmless habit. It can have profound consequences for your health, well-being, and performance. Therefore, it is important to learn how to overcome it and act on what matters to you.

Here are five examples of how to overcome procrastination:

  • Set small and specific goals. Breaking down a large or complex task into smaller and more manageable steps can help you overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed or intimidated by the task. It can also help you track your progress and celebrate your achievements along the way.

  • Organise your tasks and prioritise them. Having a clear plan of what you need to do and when you need to do it can help you stay focused and motivated. You can use a calendar, a planner, a to-do list, or an app to organize your tasks and schedule them according to their urgency and importance. Try to tackle the most important or difficult tasks first when you have more energy and willpower.

  • Focus your attention on one task at a time. Multitasking can reduce your efficiency and increase your stress levels. It can also make you more prone to distractions and interruptions. To avoid procrastinating and focus on what you have decided to do, try to remove every possible distraction from your work environment—both physical and digital. For example, you can put your phone on silent mode, close unnecessary tabs on your browser, or work in a quiet place.

  • Change your mindset and attitude towards the task. One of the main reasons people procrastinate is because they have negative emotions or thoughts about the task, such as boredom, anxiety, fear, or self-doubt. To overcome these feelings, try to reframe the task in a more positive or meaningful way. For example, you can think of how the task will benefit you or others, how it will help you learn or grow, or how it will align with your values or goals.

  • Reward yourself for completing the task. Giving yourself a reward for finishing the task can boost your motivation and satisfaction. The reward can be anything that makes you happy or relaxed, such as watching a movie, playing a game, eating a snack, or spending time with friends. Just make sure that the reward is proportional to the effort and that you do not use it as an excuse to avoid the task

More than anything else, it is best to get into the habit of a focussed mindset. Clear your environment of distractions and try and seek some level of joy in the tasks you tend to put off.

Gaining clear focus on a task can help you improve your productivity, performance, and satisfaction.

  • Eliminate distractions. Distractions can come from both internal and external sources. Internal distractions are when your mind wanders to other thoughts or feelings that are not related to the task. External distractions are when you are interrupted by others or by things in your environment. To eliminate distractions, you can try to work in a quiet space, turn off notifications on your phone or computer, close unnecessary tabs, or programs, tell others not to disturb you, or use headphones or earplugs. You can also capture your internal distractions by writing them down on a piece of paper or a note-taking app and deal with them later.

  • Prioritise your tasks and focus on one task at a time. Having too many tasks to do can make you feel overwhelmed and unfocused. To prioritise your tasks, you can use a system like the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you sort your tasks into four categories: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. You can then focus on the most urgent and important tasks first and delegate, schedule, or eliminate the rest. You can also use a technique like the Pomodoro Method, which involves working on one task for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. This can help you avoid multitasking and maintain your concentration.

  • Change your mindset and attitude towards the task. Sometimes, you may lack focus because you have negative emotions or thoughts about the task, such as boredom, anxiety, fear, or self-doubt. To change your mindset and attitude towards the task, you can try to reframe it in a more positive or meaningful way. For example, you can think of how the task will benefit you or others, how it will help you learn or grow, or how it will align with your values or goals. You can also use affirmations, gratitude, or visualization to boost your motivation and confidence.

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