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Procrastination: Overcoming the Hurdles

Aug 28, 2023

Procrastination is the act of delaying tasks that need to be accomplished. This is something I really struggle with from time-to-time, and know for sure that the strategies below can help. 

The Why Behind Procrastination

Why do we engage in this behavior when its clearly not in our own best interests? The reasons are multifaceted and usually involve various psychological factors:

  • Instant Gratification vs. Long-Term Gain: Our brains are wired to seek immediate rewards. Tasks that promise quick satisfaction tend to take precedence over those with longer-term benefits.
  • Fear of Failure and Perfectionism: The fear of not meeting our own or others' expectations can lead to procrastination. We often delay tasks to avoid the possibility of failure, striving for perfection.
  • Task Intimidation: Complex or daunting tasks can trigger avoidance behavior. The mere thought of a challenging task can trigger feelings of stress or overwhelm, prompting us to delay starting it. 
  • Motivation- The Driving Force: Motivation plays a central role in the procrastination puzzle. It can be categorized into intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivation. When a task aligns with our personal interests or values, we are more likely to feel intrinsically motivated and less prone to procrastination. On the other hand, tasks driven by external rewards or pressure may lead to temporary bursts of productivity followed by procrastination.


    Self-Regulation Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination

    Self-regulation involves managing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to achieve long-term goals. It's a key player in overcoming procrastination. Developing self-regulation skills can significantly reduce the tendency to delay tasks:

    Set Specific Goals and Break Tasks Down: Clear, specific goals make tasks feel more manageable. Breaking tasks into smaller steps reduces their perceived difficulty.

    Use Time Management Techniques: Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break) can help maintain focus and prevent burnout.

    Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness when facing setbacks. Self-criticism can exacerbate procrastination, while self-compassion promotes resilience and a willingness to try again.

    The Two-Minute Rule: If a task takes less than two minutes, do it immediately. This prevents small tasks from piling up and becoming overwhelming.

    Eisenhower Matrix: Prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance. This helps you focus on tasks that truly matter.

    Visualize the Finish Line: Imagine the satisfaction of completing a task and how it aligns with your long-term goals. Visualization can boost motivation.

    Reward Yourself: Create a reward system for accomplishing tasks. Positive reinforcement enhances motivation and reduces the inclination to delay.

    Overcoming procrastination is a gradual process that involves trying and practicing new habits. Through understanding the factors that underpin procrastination hopefully you will have some insight into what may work  or you to get through it. 

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