Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing tasks or activities. Most of us procrastinate. People may procrastinate for various reasons, such as feeling overwhelmed, lacking motivation, or not knowing where to start. Procrastination can lead to increased stress, decreased productivity, and a feeling of inadequacy or failure. However, it is possible to overcome procrastination by developing strategies to manage time and prioritize tasks effectively.
Psychologists have identified various drivers of procrastination, such as anxiety, low self-confidence, a lack of structure, and struggles to motivate oneself to complete unpleasant tasks. Research has also shown that procrastination is linked to becoming fixated on negative thoughts.
For people with perfectionist tendencies, it may serve a psychological purpose by protecting the individual against the fear of failure or judgment by others. Avoiding unpleasant work by directing energy to other tasks, like organizing or cleaning, also helps to avoid feeling unproductive.
Procrastination can be driven by emotions often. For example, people may procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed, anxious, or fearful about a task. Complex emotions can make it difficult to get started, leading to a cycle of procrastination. On the other hand, positive emotions related to motivation and confidence can help people overcome procrastination and make progress on their tasks.
According to Alice Boyes Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, “we tend to avoid tasks that stir up negative emotions. People who cope with stress by using avoidance tactics are more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, ADHD, and eating disorders, and it becomes a vicious cycle. But even people who only sometimes feel sad, doubtful, and anxious about their work — or cannot tolerate the boredom or stress it induces — tend to avoid tasks that evoke such emotions. Uncertainty heightens this response. When we feel overwhelmed – we are more likely to procrastinate.”
People may struggle to manage their emotions effectively, thus delaying completing tasks. For example, someone anxious about a task may procrastinate because they are afraid of failure or making mistakes. Alternatively, someone who lacks motivation may procrastinate because they do not feel a sense of purpose or meaning in the task.
When individuals procrastinate, it can lead to decreased productivity, missed deadlines, and subpar work quality. That can ultimately affect an organizational status and bottom line. In addition, procrastination can lead to conflicts with coworkers and supervisors, as others may be affected by the delays caused by the procrastinating individual. Overall, procrastination can be detrimental to an organization’s optimal functioning and success.
If you are struggling with procrastination, it can be helpful to identify the emotions that are driving your behavior. Once you understand the emotions behind your procrastination, you can work on finding ways to manage or address them.
That may involve diverse techniques such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, or positive self-talk to manage difficult emotions. It may also involve finding ways to increase motivation and purpose, such as setting goals or finding the deeper meaning of the task.
🌱 Create a system for starting new tasks. Remind yourself an example of a challenging task you have completed successfully and identify the steps you used to accomplish it.
🌱 Break tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. That can make the task less overwhelming and easier to start.
🌱 Set specific and achievable goals. That can help you stay motivated and track your progress.
🌱 Create a schedule and stick to it. Plan out your time and allocate specific blocks for different tasks.
🌱 Eliminate distractions. Find a quiet, distraction-free space to work, and turn off your phone or other distractions.
🌱 Use accountability to your advantage. Consider working with a friend or accountability partner to help you stay on track.
🌱 Use rewards to motivate yourself. Consider rewarding yourself after completing a task or achieving a goal.
🌱 Seek support. If you are struggling with procrastination, it can be helpful to talk to a mental health professional or counselor for additional support and guidance.
// Set clear goals and expectations: Employees are more likely to stay motivated and on track, if they know what is expected of them.
// Provide resources and support: Ensure employees have the tools and resources to complete their tasks effectively.
// Encourage open communication: Encourage employees to speak up if they feel overwhelmed or face difficulties with a task. That can help leaders identify and address any underlying issues potentially causing procrastination.
// Offer training and development opportunities: Help employees build skills and confidence by offering training and development opportunities.
// Provide feedback and support: Offer regular feedback and support to help employees stay on track and progress on their tasks.
// Recognize and reward progress: Acknowledge and reward employees for their efforts and growth, which can help increase motivation and build confidence.