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The Truth About Procrastination and Why You Should Stop

Sunday, July 29, 2018

At some point or another, we have all been guilty of putting off things that needed to be done for the sake of having a few more minutes of peace. Just one more minute of watching your favorite TV series, finishing a chapter in the book you can't put down, eating out for the umpteenth time to avoid cooking, etc.

Many of us know what procrastination is (to intentionally AND habitually put something off) but we really don't look into why we do it. Procrastination is usually a symptom of a root issue. Procrastination can be brought on by many things including:
  • stress
  • burnout
  • laziness
  • self-doubt
  • fear
  • perfectionism
  • anxiety
  • lack of motivation
  • negativity
Just to list a few root reasons why. I can say that I have experienced each one of these things personally and each one had their own set of consequences. This included the last-minute adrenaline rush to meet a deadline rolling in on fumes! Have a few of these in a row and tell me how you feel. I'll be here!👋😅  Once I identified why I was procrastinating on getting stuff done, I assumed I needed a quick fix to get out of it and this is the worst thing to do.

Our short-term memory can hold up to seven items at a time due to its limited capacity. Read more about it here. Depending on how long we are consumed by another task, we can easily lose this information because our brains are hard-wired to produce what we believe to be important and forget about the rest.

As adults, many times our brains fire off in multiple directions because we have a lot on our plate. We have families to take care of, a job to go to, a social life to maintain, a social media presence to consistently update. Something eventually falls through and whether we like it or not, most of the time things end up on our shoulders to deal with. I am not advocating that you don't take time to take care of yourself. That would defeat the purpose of many of the things I choose to write about.

What I am advocating for is to really understand why we end up in these dysfunctional patterns and how to stop them. Procrastination isn't the major cause (I can't necessarily say what is), but it does affect our daily function. I believe the reason we procrastinate is that we do not insert time to care for ourselves in a way that we feel refreshed and revitalized. So when we finally get a few minutes to ourselves after a long day, it is super easy to over-indulge and we forget that we have a routine to carry out the next day.

 The key is to find a middle ground through manageability. If I add on major changes such as waking up at 5 am, making a to-do list as long as my body, exercising morning and night until my legs fall off, I would only put myself into a bigger hole to crawl out of. How many times have you made promises to yourself to do better and end up right back to square one? You feel worse than you did before.

Let's say you've taken the time to figure out your why. Now you focus on manageability. Instead of snowballing into another fantasy land where you create high demands for yourself expecting a great outcome, manage your expectations with small changes. Those small changes produce a more satisfactory outcome that you want to repeat. You are basically conditioning yourself AWAY from your old habits. Who knows, maybe one day you will be able to fly high and get up at 5 am or complete that really long list and still have energy. You have to start somewhere!

Everyone has a different life experience. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa but there are a couple of things that I keep in mind when I am overcoming procrastination in an area of my life:

Why have I not accomplished my goal?
Take some time to scroll back to the mini-list of reasons why people procrastinate.  You are responsible for the goals you set. If you are not where you would like to be, do yourself a favor and make an adjustment that you can manage. Maybe go to bed half an hour early. Log out of social media to avoid scrolling an hour straight. Get to work twenty minutes early. Start small, repeat, re-evaluate a month later and see where you are again. If you are actively trying, expect a good outcome. 

What am I working towards?
When I am without a vision for something I would like to check off my list or even just do better, I am not motivated and it won't get done. You have to know where you are going in life. I have also learned that when I have a vision for something, I am much more graceful with myself if something does not work out especially if I have done what I can and asked for help to get there. 

Cited Sources (MLA)
  • McLeod, S. (2009). Short-Term Memory. Retrieved July 29, 2018, from https://www.simplypsychology.org/short-term-memory.html
  • "Definition of PROCRASTINATE." Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America's Most-trusted Online Dictionary, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/procrastinate.

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