Why You Procrastinate And How You Can Overcome It

Why You Procrastinate And How You Can Overcome It

Pooja Maheshwary

It’s Wednesday morning, and you’re working furiously on a report to meet a 3 pm deadline, while quietly cursing yourself for waiting till the last minute to get to it. What happened? How did it go wrong? Let’s back up. You re-read a bunch of emails, took a coffee break, browsed through your social media, and spent time on tasks that were less important.

Does this sound familiar? If yes, then you aren’t alone!

Many people procrastinate. And you’d be surprised to know how much it can affect your life. To understand more about why we procrastinate (no, it’s not out of laziness!) and how we can overcome procrastinating behaviour, we reached out to Janvi Sutaria, Clinical and Health Psychologist at MpowerMinds, and asked her to share her expert inputs on the what, why and how of procrastination. Scroll down to read all she had to say!

What Is Procrastination?

Procrastination is the postponement of some task that one has to perform. It involves recurring delaying of a particular activity by an individual.

For example, X keeps procrastinating studying Mathematics till the evening before the examinations. Or Y keeps procrastinating exercise.

What Are A Few Myths About Procrastination?

Procrastination is often believed to be laziness or something that comes from an individual’s intent. A lot of times we tend to believe that an individual is procrastinating because they are bored, or that they just don’t intend to do the work. Procrastination is also mistaken as forgetfulness a lot of times. These all are indeed myths about procrastinating. Using the above examples, X and Y are not procrastinating because they are lazy or they do not intend to study or exercise, respectively.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

There are various reasons why individuals procrastinate. The human mind has an interesting mechanism of its own. It often assumes that its future-self is more capable, more efficient and stronger than its present-self. Also, while it’s present-self wants instant gratification and immediate results, it often assumes that the future-self is patient enough to work hard and wait for delayed rewards. The irony is that even when the present-self reaches the timeline of the future-self, the mechanism of its mind remains the same as that of the present self.

Going deeper, we also understand that individuals often procrastinate subconsciously. One wouldn’t intend to delay an activity, however, they might still find themselves indulging in procrastination. Procrastination usually happens because of an unresolved issue or suppressed emotions related to the activity or person/people involved in that activity. Procrastination is a kind of defence mechanism our mind uses in order to protect us from an uncomfortable emotion. Using the above examples, X keeps procrastinating studying Mathematics because he is subconsciously trying to avoid the memory of his Math professor insulting him in front of the whole class, and Y procrastinates exercising because she believes herself to be ugly, and that no amount of exercising will help her look beautiful.

What Are The Effects Of Constant Procrastinating Behaviour?

A lot of times, due to procrastination, one misses out on important opportunities and developments in life. It results in getting labelled as lazy or forgetful. It also leads to a decrease in self-esteem and self-confidence. By procrastinating, one is running away from a particular thought or emotion, which also results in long-term suppression of certain feelings.

How Can One Overcome Procrastinating Behaviour?

Firstly, it is extremely important to be aware that you are procrastinating on a certain activity. A lot of times self-awareness is difficult as procrastination is a subconscious mechanism, hence awareness can come through others pointing out this behaviour. Once you are aware, you should give yourself some time and introspect as to what could be the reason behind procrastinating. Post this, it is vital to remind yourself to challenge your underlying belief by acting against in and to break the cycle of procrastination. Motivation doesn’t come before you start the activity, it comes after. Find yourself an instant reward (could be anything that makes you happy) that you can use every time you perform the activity. This will help reduce the chances of procrastination and increase consistency!

Do you procrastinate often? How have you overcome it? Please share it with us in the comments below!

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