We tend to think of procrastination negatively but we all do this at times and it can give us time to plan or get more information. Also, it could be productive to put the task off to a time when we may be able to concentrate undisturbed.
But sometimes it is not helpful and can cause us stress, anxiety and guilt. We may doubt ourselves and worry that the task is too difficult or how we may be judged when it is completed. No wonder we find it easier to just not start the task in the first place.
To avoid this stress we may find other more urgent things to do which don’t leave time for the worrisome task. We may also overestimate the difficulty of the task and the length of time needed which make it even more likely that we will leave it to ‘another day’.
Underlying issues such as low self esteem and low confidence can be fuelling this desire to procrastinate with the added stress of deadlines. Feelings of guilt may arise if we miss the deadline with the worry that others may think we are lazy. As you can imagine, this leads to the lowering of our self esteem and confidence and the more we procrastinate the more we are likely to do so again.
So how do we stop procrastination becoming a big problem? First of all we shouldn’t let our anxiety run away with us! Procrastination is sneaky and we are not always aware of what is going on. If you start to notice that you are suddenly spending a lot of time on social media or have an urgent desire to do the dusting, think to yourself that maybe there is something you trying to avoid.
Don’t fall prey to procrastination. Don’t listen to the voice that is telling you that the task is too difficult and that you aren’t up to it – remind yourself of all the things you have done that you had thought were difficult but you still achieved them. The best thing is to make a start - formulate a plan and break the task down into bite sized pieces which will give you some control and a sense of achievement gained as you complete them and tick them off. Depending on the task and how pressing it is, you could work on it for half an hour and then stop and do the same the next day. This will give you a feeling of satisfaction that you ‘have done the job for today’. Or you may continue to work on the task and allow yourself a small treat as you go along.
These techniques will help you to manage your feelings around procrastination and stop it turning into paralysis. Also, remind yourself of how much better you will feel when it is completed – free from guilt and from the anxiety that has been building around it.