Procrastination is the habitual putting-off of actions that need to be done. We all put off the odd task because we imagine it is going to be unpleasant to do or we are anxious about doing it, but it can become a habitual way of behaving and prevent the person procrastinating from living their life because they put off living their lives.
There are loads of reasons why people indulge in this self-sabotaging behaviour and a key part of treating procrastination is identifying which of these affect you, for each of the things you want to be doing or to have done - some will apply at work, others at home, some around people.
Ask yourself which of these apply to you a little or a lot:
- I sometimes don't do things because they're too difficult.
- I sometimes don't do things because I don't think I'll do them well enough.
- Other people seem to be able to do this sort of thing better than I can.
- I expect I'll give up at some point because I'll get bored or it will become difficult.
- I sometimes don't do things because they're scary.
- I sometimes don't do things because they're overwhelming.
- I don't get any sense of feeling good having done this thing.
- I find I have to do things because I can't say no, or feel put upon when I have to do them.
- I have a big thing to do and I can't do anything else when I'm supposed to be doing it.
- I have a big thing to do and I do everything else rather than do it.
- I tell myself I'll do this later or tomorrow when I'm in the mood.
- I find I tell myself I should be doing this thing.
- I don't do things that will cause more problems once I have done them.
- Sometimes I put something off for so long it's too late to do it.
- Putting things off has just become a habit, and I have a todo list of things I don't really intend to do.
- All the things I have to do are boring.
Most people who consider themselves to be procrastinators do nearly all of those when they put things off, so don't be too harsh on yourself. Each is a different cause for putting things off and several can apply at the same time.
Procrastination is commonly seen with various anxiety disorders as it might at first glance look rational to avoid doing things that make us uncomfortable. But each time we think about whatever it is we are putting off and feel that brief sensation of anxiety, we are making ourselves more and not less anxious. After a while, putting things off becomes the default position and we do it, even when we would get an immediate benefit from having done whatever we are putting off (for example, doing our expenses).
If you procrastinate it's quite likely that you are hard on yourself for procrastinating, telling yourself off for not doing whatever it is that you are putting off (which doesn't make it easier to actually do it) and being angry with yourself or ashamed of yourself. We can address this.
One problem with procrastinating about something that makes us anxious is that each time we think about whatever it is we are putting off, we get a small spurt of anxiety. If we put the task off for a week and think about it briefly ten times a day, then that's seventy spurts of anxiety that we exerience, and it is a real as the anxiety we might feel just before doing the task.
We are usually aware that we are putting off doing something; one area we might be unaware of is putting off making a decision, which has a bad effect on the way we run our lives. We might put off telling a partner about an indiscretion and so suffer guilt or shame each time we think about it, we might put off ending an unsatisfactory relationship because this will hurt someone else.
Managing or treating procrastination means looking at the reasons for putting things off, adjusting your thinking about this, and experimenting with changing your behaviour in a manageable way.
So for helping with your procrastination and for getting it beat, get in touch.