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How to make a deal with ourselves to procrastinate less on what's important?


Today we suggest you read an article about procrastination and get acquainted with a new term – procrastination. If you notice that you delay starting or finishing some work in your life, you focus too much on trivial tasks, instead of focusing on what is really important, you buy gifts the day before an important holiday, and before starting more complex work, you dive into your phone and drown in the news streamc (this is called cyber-idling), you should get to know this phenomenon more closely.

Procrastination is a subtly sophisticated way of saying that I’m afraid, doubting myself, it’s all too much, or I’m giving up. Procrastination is a self-regulatory error associated with dysfunctional beliefs or motivational variables: the value of an activity, expectations for achieving value, time, and fear of being late. It’s unbelievable, but sometimes we procrastinate our pleasures and stressful activities, because with our internal standards of perfection, we don’t have time for anything else.

There are cases when the procrastination of important work is associated with overcoming anxiety, guilt, when performing non-priority tasks, i.e. the task of coping with too little value. Procrastination is also a form of avoidance that arises from an internal fear of facing difficulties that may reveal and highlight subjectively perceived undesirable qualities of oneself.

Procrastination has deep, but not always obvious, connections with the image we create in relation to ourselves and others, where the balance between autonomy and confirmation that a need is satisfied is not always found. Research data shows that procrastination behavior is related to personality factors – impulsivity, low self-regulation, expressed in neuroticism.

For many of us, delayed, unfinished tasks do not give us peace, they revolve in our minds and do not allow us to engage in other activities in a quality way, even though we do not perform procrastinating tasks at that time. The resulting stress, anxiety and emotional psychological tension increase the risk of mental illnesses, and postponing healing procedures and visits to doctors increases the risk of physical health deterioration. Sound like a vicious cycle? Really so. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of it.

How to procrastinate less?

Here are some recommendations:

  1. Break down urgent tasks into smaller parts.
  2. Define a limited time for the task or its completion (for example, 15 minutes).
  3. You can turn on the sound signal, which will inform you that the set time for completing the task has already passed, take a break for a few minutes, and come back to the task again.
  4. Limit environmental distractions, such as disconnecting from social networks, Internet, turning off the phone.
  5. Moderate your work environment, i.e. organize yourself, leave only what is necessary for work at the workplace, and let in fresh air. Or add fun elements to your workout, like listening to your favorite music during a hard workout.
  6. Try to do one thing at a time.
  7. If you tend to complete tasks perfectly, then “steal” 5 minutes from each perfectly completed task development and assign them to an urgent task. Firstly, complete the entire task as it comes out. Do not proceed with the improvement until it is completely completed.
  8. Remember, there is no better time to start than now. Just start doing it. Or ask yourself, “Will it really get easier later?”
  9. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Motivation often occurs when we start doing, not the other way around. We do first, and then the motivation comes.
  10. Identify thoughts that hinder performance and replace them with thoughts that support task performance. For example, change “it will be difficult” to “I can do a small part of the work today, it really won’t be that difficult” or “I will start and see if the task is really as difficult as it seems” and so on.
  11. You can also check your imagination, how you think it will be, and how it really is. For example, you can write down the tasks that you have been putting off; rate them from 0 to 100 based on how difficult you expect them to be and how enjoyable they are; perform; afterward reflect on how difficult and enjoyable it really was.
  12. Recognize the work completed that really required effort. Remember what helped you then. Maybe strong personality traits were also needed then?
  13. Imagine yourself successfully completing a task or job that is now difficult to start.
  14. Try to do the tasks a little differently than usual. These can be small changes related to changing your posture, location, etc.
  15. Think about whether this task means more to you than just getting it done.
  16. After you’ve done some work, reward yourself with a pleasant activity.
  17. Let’s be curious and attentive to what is happening inside us, listen to our needs, and respond to them in a conscious way. Let’s not forget to be honest and open in our relationship with ourselves.

Want to learn more about how to foster your physical and mental health? Reach out to our team and get a free consultation now.


Photo by Nubelson Fernandes.

Davidson, J. P. (2004). The 60 Second Procrastinator : Sixty Solid Techniques to Jump-start Any Project and Get Your Life in Gear! Electronic & Database Publishing, Inc.

Burns D. D. (2019). Geros nuotaikos vadovas. Nauja emocijų terapija. Žmogaus studijų centras. ISBN: 9786094380051

Dobosz A. M. (2016). The Perfectionism Workbook for Teens : Activities to Help You Reduce Anxiety and Get Things Done. Instant Help.

Rozental A., Forsell E., Svensson A., Andersson G & Carlbring P. (2015). Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for procrastination: a randomized controlled trial. American Psychological Association, 83(4), 808-824. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000023.