“When there is a hill to climb, do not think waiting will make it smaller”
By: Lesira Rampa
It is 6 pm on a Sunday evening and you have a research paper to submit the next day. An entire week has slipped through your fingers and today the ticking of the clock amplifies the unease within. You rush to your laptop only to get interrupted by a WhatsApp notification on your phone, oh look – a heartfelt text message from your significant other ,expressing their love and admiration .You are dry of creativity and now you are on to Pinterest to find a suitable love quote to reciprocate their affection but to no avail. And so your journey of a complex web of procrastination commences. Alas, a stain on your favorite jacket catches your eye. You peruse the kitchen counter driven by the mission to unearth a stain-removing remedy. Then an epiphany strikes you- the realization that you have not been taking your work seriously and the blinking cursor on the blank word document exacerbates your rising anxiety. With a heavy sigh, you master the strength to finally type your long overdue research, heavily fueled by the fear of not turning in your work, and of course you will submit because you cannot risk losing your job .However you know you have not learned your lesson, it is a whole vicious cycle!
Let us be frank, most individuals are procrastinators, and while the internet is flooded with self-help books to help curb this behavior, most just procrastinate to read them- no pun intended. Is it the short attention span? Are people overly preoccupied? Procrastination is the feeling of putting off a task intentionally and habitually until the last minute. It leads to self-doubt, a low self-image and feeling mediocre. The question remains- what is the psychology behind procrastination and what effectively helps overcome this behavior?
Interestingly, light has been shed on the causal factors behind procrastinating, that it surpasses signs of laziness. And while it is true some people may delay completing a task due to simply not being keen to do it, there are in fact more complicated factors at play. As per an informed source in a published journal of Social Psychology – procrastination has a close link to anxiety and perfectionism. The high anxiety levels in the sufferers of this behavior averts them from getting tasks complete. These environ fear of not making mistakes or not achieving perfect results. We normally put unrealistic goals for ourselves that ultimately set us up for failure .Nonetheless, setting achievable goals and bearing in mind that being good at something is a process and with smaller steps one will eventually progress towards their larger objectives will later prove to be worthwhile.
An informed insider asserts that individuals prone to procrastination may lack what is referred to as “the time perspective”, enlightening that it means they struggle to grasp the long- term consequences of their actions. Further claiming that they might prioritize immediate gratification – being an instant desire to feel satisfaction without delay, even if seeking out those activities possessing fast gratification may pose negative consequences. This is a very common trait in procrastinators; seeking out temporary rewards over fulfilling lasting goals. It is mentioned that this is because individuals lack empathy or the emotional attachment with their future selves. It is in this case important to pounder long and hard about the lasting benefits of completing the more important task at hand, envisioning the rewards as though you were attaining them right there and then. After all, the mind can be tricked through visualization.
Procrastinators are however not all the same. The reasons an individual may procrastinate may not be similar to the reasons why another person procrastinates. Encompassing problems ranging from lack of interest in a task, feeling overwhelmed and simply not knowing one’s way around a task- there is also a neurodevelopmental disorder factor at fault being the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A condition that usually shows up during childhood, usually progressing into adulthood and needs a diagnosis. It is a mental disorder characterized by symptoms of lack of attention, cognitive disengagement syndrome, hyperactivity and, but not limited to impulsivity. A combination of these symptoms fuels procrastination as it becomes difficult to execute executive functions like decision making, judgement and time management.
The solution to this conundrum is the Pomodoro technique; a trick involving breaking tasks into 25 minute intervals followed by the 5 minute break in between, which is claimed by notable sources to help improve productivity and focus. Another strategy includes changing one’s environment, the change of scenery to complete a task like reading for an exam or writing a week long work report can crush the procrastination. Additionally finding someone to hold you accountable for completing tasks like a family member or friend will surely foster motivation and determination.
It is said “no one builds a house, they lay one brick again and again and the end result is a house, a remarkable, glorious achievement is just what a long series of unremarkable, inglorious tasks look like from faraway”. Progress then is made by laying one brick at a time, and overcoming procrastination is surely a long but definitely a rewarding journey.