Procrastinate much?

It is irrational, that anyone would do, what will harm them, right?

“Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline.” (Verywellmind.com)

Why do we do it? And don’t worry, we all do it. And No its not “laziness”, as laziness is an unwillingness to act, while procrastination is wanting to act, knowing how important it is to act, and still or maybe due to that, not being able to act.

A recent Ted-Ed video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWTNMzK9vG4&t=2s discussed, that procrastination is the result of our body trying to protect ourselves, by avoiding tasks, we see as threatening.

But how can be a task, that is good for us in long term, be threatening?

It turns out, that we procrastinate tasks that induce negative feelings. These negative feelings can be dread, insecurity, incompetence, doubt, fear etc. When we associate these negative feelings to a task, we are more likely to avoid that task, to protect ourselves, from that negative feeling we have linked to that task. But unfortunately, by avoiding the task, negative feelings are caused anyway, as now, its in the form of guilt and shame, for not doing the task.

When there is a perceived threat, the amygdala, that processes our emotions, and identify threats, releases stress hormones like adrenaline, and triggers a fear response. This stress induced anxiety, dominates the signal from our pre-frontal cortex (Pre-frontal cortex help us think long term and helps regulate emotions). Hence, to get over this fear response, we avoid the task and do a seemingly less threatening task instead.

Procrastination is found to be more prevalent in individuals with low self esteem and those who have difficulty regulating emotions. And Procrastination can lead to anxiety, depression, shame, stress and even physical ailments.

Is there a better way?

Maybe

Go do your own research, I am not gonna spoon feed you :p

I don’t know, what would work for you, but for me, I can tell.

  1. Only have things in your life, you would want to work on. Eg. I have an Engineering degree but cannot imagine myself working it that field (yet), so if I give myself task, of say finding a job in that field and then doing that job, for the rest of my life, till I get the sweet release of death. No Thanks.
  2. However, I want to pursue career in Counselling and Psychology, so I chose to study along with doing a job, and trust me, its challenging, but I still do my assignments happily(mostly), because, I want to work in that field, I am curious about the subject, so what’s to dread about the assignments?
  3. I work, and when I started as an Environmental scientist, I had no clue on how things work, but, breaking the task down helps. If you know, even the first step, do it, the second step will be easier to do, because now you have evidence that you could do the first step, second shouldn’t be that hard. And when I don’t know even the first step, I ask someone for help or usually google it 😀

These days, I tell myself, that if I do, what needs to be done, now or as soon as possible, there would be one less thing for my future self, and one more chance for her to do something else she likes. Its a self love thing, its a love letter to her, from old me.

Curiosity Vs Dread Learning Vs Incompetence Self love and Compassion Vs Insecurity

These are the common reasons, why we procrastinate https://www.verywellmind.com/the-psychology-of-procrastination-2795944:

  • Not knowing what needs to be done
  • Not knowing how to do something
  • Not wanting to do something
  • Not caring if it gets done or not
  • Not caring when something gets done
  • Not feeling in the mood to do it
  • Being in the habit of waiting until the last minute
  • Believing that you work better under pressure
  • Thinking that you can finish it at the last minute
  • Lacking the initiative to get started
  • Forgetting
  • Blaming sickness or poor health
  • Waiting for the right moment
  • Needing time to think about the task
  • Delaying one task in favor of working on another

“The great decisions of human life have, as a rule, far more to do with instincts and other unconscious factors than with conscious will or well-meaning reasonableness.” Carl Jung

Understanding why we see something as threatening can save us, our time and sanity. Either something can be good for us, or not. And if something is good for us, then we need to inspect, why we are standing in our own way?

Further Resource:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOqZib0w_0M&list=PLsz9wYFsulZgv6xgwPz-dXIlZEwTw04Qy&index=12

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym6CRpACT1s&list=PLsz9wYFsulZgv6xgwPz-dXIlZEwTw04Qy&index=2

2 thoughts on “Procrastinate much?

  1. Congratulations for this.It is such a complex topic but the way you presented it ,you made it seem so simple to understand as this is the thing we face everytime and never feel whether the decision to act or not to act was right for us.Thankyou for your efforts and sincerity with which you create such beautiful gems.

    Liked by 1 person

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