Procrastination – 8 ways to deal with it effectively

Why I'm talking about procrastination

We are all humans. We postpone unwanted or challenging tasks at least a few times. Although it is considered normal to procrastinate to some extent, procrastination is a major issue to many of us, leading to stress, guilt, severe self-judgment, loss of productivity and confidence, lack of commitment and social disapproval. These feelings cause further procrastination.

According to Rozental and colleagues (2015), 20% of adults and 50% of students consider themselves chronic procrastinators. In moments of crisis, those percentages increase.

The solution is not just to use time and self-management techniques & strategies but to deal with our emotions in different ways.

In this blog I am going to look at:

- What is procrastination,

- Different types & factors that cause it,

- Its root causes & how to overcome it using….

- 8 scientific proven ways, time management tips as well as my personal take,

- Exercises to help YOU deal with procrastination.

What is procrastination

Procrastination is the voluntary delay of an obligation or task (Steel, 2007) which usually, but not necessarily, has an expiration date. This delay can be evident either in our attempt to start a project or in our difficulty in completing it. Procrastination is not a matter of laziness or incompetence, but managing the emotions that lead to excuses for short-term versus long-term pleasure. Understanding this simple fact can help you to delay less.

Types of procrastination

It is important to distinguish procrastination from other types of delays. For example, if an activity is delayed because another obligation has arisen that requires our immediate attention, it is considered a strategic delay (Sirois, 2016).

Previous research has reported two types of procrastination (Chu & Choi, 2005).

1. The first type of procrastination is one in which indecision paralyzes us to such an extent that we fail deadlines and timely completion of our obligations. The characteristics of this type is the difficulty in deciding and organizing the start of our project.

2. The second type of procrastinator is the one which leads to consciously postpone of projects. The characteristics of the second phase are the inability to concentrate but also to exclude external distractions in order to continue your work (Wäschle et all, 2014). Most people that fall into this type, work often better under pressure and finally manage to complete their obligations in the short time they decide to mobilize.

More recent research (Rozental et. All, 2015) distinguishes up to 5 subcategories which differ from each other based on severity and consequences.

Procrastination factors

Procrastination is the perfect example of our tendency to prioritize short-term needs over long-term ones. We use procrastination to control situations and, most importantly, success, which many of us are very afraid of (Piers Steel, PhD in Industrial / Organizational Psychology).

Many studies conclude that procrastination comes from our childhood. We learn to live with this dysfunction and consequently with all the negatives that accompany it. More specifically: