10 min czytania 15 June 2023

Procrastination – what is it, how to combat it?

The problem of procrastination can affect anyone. Procrastination is one of the most common traps that employees fall into. Although procrastinating tasks may at first seem like an easy way to avoid stress and relieve pressure, in reality it often leads to even more stress, frustration and guilt. The word procrastination has become very popular recently – it is often confused with laziness. This behaviour may be due to psychological reasons. What is procrastination? What are the causes and consequences of procrastination? How do I combat procrastination?



Procrastination – what is it?

Procrastination is a term that describes constantly putting things off. One waits until the last minute to complete a task. A person who constantly delays important tasks is a procrastinator. He or she is unable to impose discipline on himself or herself or to focus on what needs to be done. Such people are most often aware that they need to complete a difficult task, but fail to get on with it. Hence, procrastination is often confused with laziness.

Procrastination works in such a way that the person postpones a task to a later date, feels temporarily relieved, but is later overcome by feelings of guilt or shame. Because of this notorious behaviour, self-esteem can drop and we will feel a lot of negative emotions, stress and tension. The procrastinator usually knows that procrastinating certain tasks can be harmful, but does it anyway. This results in the person having more and more things on his or her mind, which he or she may not be able to cope with later. This phenomenon has been increased these days by the amount of distractions that surround us. A lot of stimuli come at us from our surroundings, making it difficult for us to focus. Tasks are procrastinated by people who are tempted by their smartphone and the internet to browse social media, watch movies, series or play computer games.

Task procrastination affects an increasing number of people, the number of which continues to grow. Most of them tend to find substitute problems for themselves, which they find more attractive to do than the specific tasks that need to be done. It is worth finding the cause of procrastination within yourself. Consider how you can learn to manage your time so that you complete the tasks you have planned.

Procrastination is a chronic phenomenon that can have a negative impact on your life. It becomes a huge problem if it affects our neglect of responsibilities or relationships.

Read also: Working in the black – without a contract.

Types of procrastination

Everyone is different, so there are several types of people who procrastinate on planned tasks. If the problem of procrastinating tasks applies to you, try to think about which type you use. What are the types of procrastination?

  • decision-making – refers to people who are faced with making a difficult decision. It is associated with stress and uncertainty. Procrastination is a defence mechanism to cope with the anxiety associated with making a bad decision.
  • avoidance – is not taking action for fear of failure. The person is afraid of failure, procrastinates performing specific duties and then protects their self-esteem.
  • arousal – a person who procrastinates doing tasks often does so because they like the feeling of a surge of emotion. We put things off until the last minute in order to feel more motivated to work.

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Causes of procrastination

The problem of procrastination can affect anyone. It is related to work, school, studies or home. The reasons for procrastination can be many, and we need to look for them in the psychology of our actions. People do not realise how many factors contribute to it. To be able to fight procrastination, it is worth becoming aware of the cause. What are the causes of procrastination?

A person’s personality
A person who experiences a lot of negative emotions, tends to worry and exaggerate problems often delays tasks because he or she is afraid to face them. He or she fears failure or effort and feels even more anxiety, shame and guilt at the end.

Strict upbringing
Psychologists pay attention to the childhood of people affected by procrastination. People who had a strict parent in childhood, whom they were afraid to defy, may now adopt a passive-aggressive attitude to life.

We want to do our task perfectly, which makes us fear that we won’t do it the way we want. When we have a task planned that is more difficult than before, we fear failure, that we won’t cope. As a result, we postpone our tasks.

Fear of success
People who dislike being the centre of attention may feel a fear of being successful. This is related to the fear of jealousy, of pulling in more expectations that may not be met.

Excessive responsibilities
Too many responsibilities and tasks to do can overwhelm anyone. The procrastinator then feels that they are not up to the challenge.

Problem with ability to prioritise
Procrastinators tend to do the less important tasks first. Difficult things are left until the very end. The result of this kind of thinking is that we often don’t have enough time to do what we have; uncomfortable sentences can then be postponed until a later date.

Our procrastination can also be influenced by mental disorders that are related to our motivation for living. Putting things off can be linked to a lack of strength to face a task, and the accompanying feelings of guilt can be exacerbated.

A poor diet, too little or too much sleep, stimulants and lack of physical activity can all have a negative impact on our willingness to work. We then prefer to complete more difficult tasks later, explaining to ourselves that we are too tired.

Concentration problems
Today’s world is filled with many stimuli that only distract us from what we are supposed to be doing. A lot of work, combined with information coming at us from the phone or television, influences us to not be able to concentrate.

Consequences of procrastination

The effects of procrastination can be many. It all depends on what type of tasks are being put off. Procrastinating professional tasks can involve losing your job, losing your bonus, having trouble achieving professional success. We may miss out on a promotion, deteriorate our relationship with our boss, lose job satisfaction or feel like an inferior employee. Postponing tasks is accompanied by feelings of guilt, which over time can turn into lower self-confidence or even depression.

Students or pupils can fail exams through procrastination, prolonging their studies or school time. Some people also procrastinate by paying bills or submitting important documents, which will later affect their finances. By postponing medical examinations, one can also fall ill. So we can see that the consequences largely depend on the type of tasks we put off – each of which negatively affects our lives.


Procrastination and laziness

Procrastination is not the same as laziness. It is said of people who use procrastination that they do not want to do anything. So what is the difference?

A person who procrastinates on specific tasks and feels pleasure in doing so, regardless of the consequences is lazy. Procrastination, on the other hand, is putting things off, consciously, with the feeling that this is wrong.

Procrastination – how to deal with it, how to combat it?

There are several ways to deal with procrastination. The most important is to get to a stage where the task being done has an end and is not done at the last minute. How to deal with procrastination?

  • Define your objectives. Before starting work, think about what you want to achieve and what goals you are setting for yourself. This will help you focus on the task at hand and motivate you to take action.
  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Plan your tasks. Create a plan for the day or week that outlines what you need to do and what your priorities are. This will help you avoid unnecessary disorganisation and allow you to focus on the important tasks. Divide your work into stages – try the pomodoro method.
  • Work step by step. Don’t do everything at once. Focus on one task and complete it before moving on to the next. This will help you avoid unnecessary overload and feeling overwhelmed.
  • Act without unnecessary delay. If you feel that you are starting to put off a task, try to complete it straight away, even if it requires effort. The longer you put off a task, the more difficult it will be to get on with it.
  • Be self-critical. Think through what is preventing you from completing the task and what steps you can take to change it. Sometimes it is necessary to carefully analyse the causes of procrastination in order to deal with it effectively.
  • Be aware of your problem, ask yourself if it is worth procrastinating what you have to do.
  • Always ask yourself how much time you have. It will be easier for you to plan your responsibilities.
  • Accept that not everyone is perfect and that making mistakes happens to everyone.
  • Reward yourself for completing tasks on time.
  • Communicate with those around you, expect feedback.
  • Use the services of a psychologist, psychotherapist.

Postponing responsibilities is something that negatively affects our work and life. So it’s worth becoming aware of the cause, thinking about where it comes from. This will help us fight procrastination. Failure to complete a procrastinated task causes stress, tension and guilt. People who procrastinate are procrastinators, and the number of procrastinators is increasing every year. Procrastination can be frustrating and lead to unnecessary stress, but with the right tools and approach, it can be combated. The key is planning, motivation and focus on the goal.

Check also: Professional burnout – how to cope?