Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Procrastination: The Nemesis of Success

Author Steven Pressfield very precisely explained about procrastination it in his book The War of Art. In which he said that “it is the thing that keeps you from doing your work”.

My name is Lalit Adhikari and we are at LTY. Let’s begin!



Introduction

A few months back, I was talking to my students about time management and how to get all the work done in the specific allotted time.

Our discussion reminded me of a (one of my favorites) Ted Talk that I’ve watched a long ago and that was ‘Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | TED‘. I would highly recommend watching this video before reading further.

Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | TED

And after hearing the above talk, I got a very deep insight into what is procrastination and how it actually works.

Procrastination is a common problem faced by many people, whether they are students, employees or entrepreneurs. It is the act of delaying or postponing tasks, despite knowing that they are important and need to be done.

Procrastination can negatively impact your productivity, your mental and physical health, and your overall success. In this article, we will discuss what procrastination is, why people procrastinate, and how to overcome it.

Procrastination is not any kind of mental illness. It’s more about the decisions that we make of ‘not doing the work’ that we are supposed to be doing but ‘to do it later’ instead.


What is Procrastination

Procrastination is the act of putting off tasks or activities that need to be done, often until the last minute. It is a habit that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or occupation.

Procrastination can take many forms, such as watching TV, browsing social media or even cleaning your room instead of doing your work.

Sometimes, it feels like we are having an argument in our head. For Example: one part of your brain wants to work, and another part of your brain wants to play GTA and for some reason, we always manage to convince ourselves that we will do ‘work’ later.


Why Do People Procrastinate

There are many reasons why people procrastinate. One common reason is that they feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the task at hand. They may feel like they do not know how to begin or that they will not be able to complete the task to their satisfaction.

Another reason is that they may be easily distracted by other things, such as their phone, social media or any other forms of entertainment.

Some people may also procrastinate because they are perfectionists. They want everything to be perfect and they are afraid of making mistakes. As a result, they put off tasks until the last minute, hoping that they will have enough time to complete them perfectly.

As a teacher, I got the opportunity to observe closely, what exactly goes inside those young minds when students procrastinate. After doing some ample observation on this topic I found out something interesting:

  • When you procrastinate two individual parts of your brain are essentially battling out with each other. The first part is called the ‘Prefrontal Cortex’, and this is the part of the brain that does all the ‘higher and more rational thinking’.
  • The second part of the brain is called the ‘Limbic System’ which is quite a primitive part and is directly connected to your ‘pleasure centers of the brain’. Thus, this part only deals with things that give you immediate satisfaction.

And that’s essentially what you are battling against. The immediate satisfaction of, say, playing video games versus the long-term satisfaction of actually being productive.

Now, to understand this problem let’s get a bit more into the rabbit hole. Our ‘Limbic System’ gets more powerful whenever any temptation that you have to do something other than work becomes more tangible.

For example: the temptation to check your Social Media notification becomes more tangible when you hear that little notification sound telling you that you have a new notification.


Types of Procrastinators

In this world of procrastination, there are mainly two types of procrastinators:

  1. A ‘Situational Procrastinator’ whose behavior depends on the specific task that they have to do. If they don’t like it, they will push it off and try to avoid it.
  2. A ‘Chronic Procrastinator’ they are the people who face lots of trouble finishing any task at all. They generally have a tough time getting anything done. A Chronic Procrastinator’s worst nightmare is when an unpleasant task combines with their high impulsivity and lack of self-discipline to create a whirling cesspool of panic.

How to Overcome Procrastination

Most of us don’t even understand what procrastination is. The reason why we procrastinate is not what you think.

Procrastination has nothing to do with work. It is a ‘Stress Reliever’. It is rather a tool that we all use to give ourselves relief from stress that we feel. You might be stressed about money, health or something going on at work.

And the way it is related to your procrastination, you are stressed out and got work you need to do but instead of doing it, you go online and waste an hour scrolling on social media. And when you do that, it makes you feel good but just for a short amount of time.

A lot of people think that procrastination is about willpower, or it means that you’re lazy, but it is all wrong, it is all about your stress.

The cure for procrastination is very simple and you might not be willing to hear this. The way that you cure your procrastination is to act in spite of the resistance and fear that you have.

Procrastination can be overcome with the right strategies and mindset. Here are some tips on how to overcome procrastination:

  1. Break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps.

When faced with a large, daunting task, it can be helpful to break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. This can make the task feel less overwhelming and easier to tackle.

  1. Create a schedule and stick to it.

Creating a schedule can help you stay organized and focused. Set aside specific times for each task, and stick to the schedule as much as possible.

  1. Eliminate distractions.

Distractions can be a major source of procrastination. Turn off your phone, close your social media tabs, and eliminate any other distractions that may be tempting you away from your work.

  1. Get an accountability partner.

Having someone to hold you accountable can be a great motivator. Find a friend or colleague who can check in on your progress and keep you on track.

  1. Reward yourself.

Rewarding yourself for completing tasks can help keep you motivated. Set up a reward system for yourself, such as a treat or a break, and use it as an incentive to complete your work.


Conclusion

The more you procrastinate the worse it gets but if you break that cycle then it may come to an end.

My best advice on how to get yourself started on taking action, is to look at what you have to do and ask yourself that, “what is the smallest, easiest and next step I can take towards my goal?”

For example: if your big project is to create a huge article then maybe that easy, small step is to open up your word document and start writing something that comes up in your mind without any concern about the order of thoughts.

And after you completed that task asks yourself that same question again and proceed with further steps. So, you’ll find that once you’ve taken a baby step and keep doing that over and over again.

You’ll eventually build a momentum and will find yourself in a flow.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some FAQs:

Q1. What are the consequences of procrastination?

A1. Procrastination can lead to increased stress, anxiety and even depression. It can also result in lower productivity and lower quality of work.

Q2. Is procrastination a sign of laziness?

A2. No, procrastination is not necessarily a sign of laziness. People may procrastinate for a variety of reasons, including fear, anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed.

Q3. How can I overcome perfectionism?

A3. Overcoming perfectionism can be a challenge, but it can be done. Start by setting realistic goals and accepting that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.

Q4. Can procrastination be a good thing?

A4. In some cases, procrastination can be a good thing. For example, taking a break from a task can give you relief and a fresh perspective.


Lalit Adhikari
Lalit Adhikari
Lalit Adhikari is the Main Author and Admin at Learn That Yourself. He has work experience of more than 10 years in the field of Multimedia and teaching experience of more than 5 years.

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