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Procrastination or

Procrastination or "I'll do it tomorrow" syndrome: what it is and how to prevent it

June 16, 2024

There is a common phenomenon that, despite being easily recognizable, is difficult to explain. It's about the procrastination , a curious word that however only refers to the habit of postponing without valid justification activities or obligations that have to be addressed . One of the characteristics of this type of postponements, in addition, is the fact that we intend to carry out the task sooner or later, since we somehow know that its realization is something that we have to go through.

What is Procrastination?

However, it is not simply the typical behavior that we can associate with a rogue or hedonistic person. In a survey passed to 1347 adults of different nationalities, a quarter of these manifest a strongly fixed tendency to postpone tasks, regardless of their sex or culture.

Another study indicates that each employee spends around one hour and twenty minutes daily postponing his main task , with the consequent cost of opportunity for the organization. In addition, about 32% of college students could have serious problems with procrastination, according to the study by Patterns of Academic Procrastination. On the other hand, the psychologist Piers Steel maintains in his publication The Procrastination Equation that, where it is present, this trend goes against one's well-being in a broad sense: it contributes to worse health and lower wages. In addition, it can lead to compulsive or very intense attitudes that serve to evade the main responsibility: eating a lot, playing video games, etc.

A problem without a simple solution

However, since procrastination can be so problematic ... Why do we continue to allow it to happen? In fact, it is difficult to justify the postponement of a necessary task, as long as we recognize it as such. We experience the strange notion of having entered the constant cycle of the "best tomorrow", justifying this decision once it has been taken by an instance superior to our conscience

In this way, a deeply irrational and automatic mechanism is rationalized by wrapping it with a coating of words and justifications on demand. What is the key that triggers this automatic mechanism of eternal delays? Own Piers Steel I could have found it.

According to his research, there is a clear relationship between the tendency to delay tasks and impulsivity. In these studies, the presence or not of the capacity of self-regulation , that is, the ability to control oneself in favor of future rewards, explained 70% of cases of procrastination.

There was a direct relationship between levels of impulsivity and tendency to postpone tasks. In more recent investigations, Steel has found fundamentals that favor the hypothesis that between the impulsiveness and this annoying tendency exists the same genetic base. If impulsivity entails difficulties to avoid behaviors that are not convenient, procrastination supposes difficulties to trigger suitable behaviors: they are practically part of the same phenomenon; a failure to follow the behavior system that leads to long-term goals.

What to do to solve it?

Based on this explanation about the mechanics of the postponement of tasks, we can apply the same types of corrective procedures that we use with cases of impulsivity. In this case, the solution is to create work strategies that transform the diffuse, general and distant goals over time into very specific small objectives that have to be met immediately. In short, it is necessary to cut down the limited goals and with little capacity to attract us against other distracting stimuli, in very well determined activities that urgently demand our attention and that take us, one by one, from the here and now to the achievement of the final goal

Small commitments

For example, in the case of having to write a 20-page paper, a good way to do this is to commit to writing a page before seven o'clock in the afternoon. If we see that it is difficult for us to fulfill these small commitments, we will make them even smaller and more concrete, so that we can see their resolution as perfectly possible, for example, we can write 15 lines before two hours have passed. The question is to bring the pressure that we would suffer more and more as the days go by if we have not put ourselves to work, and at the same time make less uncomfortable.

Avoid elements that may distract you

Another good tactic that can be combined with the first in self-imposed difficulties in accessing distractions : turn off the TV that is playing in the background, save the smartphone, etc. We can weigh before anything what elements are those that can move us away from the objective and do something to avoid being tempted too much. In a reasonable and moderate way, this also applies to the people around us.

In sum, we have to try that reason takes the reins on our short-term preferences drawing a very clear road map. Create a kind of cognitive rails that will help us achieve what we set out to do.

Why Do We All Procrastinate? (June 2024).

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