Have you all but stopped thinking about the new year’s resolutions you made for 2019? Are you procrastinating getting back into your fitness routine? Have you stopped the self-care habits you began several months ago? This may be due to a habit of procrastination. About 20 percent of people are chronic procrastinators. But it’s not too late for your new year’s goals to be realized. Keep reading to learn six things we know about procrastination and how you can use this information to take better control of how you set and reach your goals.
Do you get a rush from the rush?
There is a phenomenon called arousal delay that makes us enjoy performing a task under pressure. We may even feel our performance is enhanced when we’re rushing to meet a deadline. If this is you, it is helpful to understand this about yourself. If you find it motivating and a bit exhilarating when youre working to meet a tight deadline, it is helpful to learn how to monitor this about yourself and embrace how you function without stressing about your deadlines.
If you understand this about yourself, expect to be writing your term paper a day or two before it’s due and make a plan for this. It helps if you prepare yourself mentally. If you know you perform best under pressure then do not stress about the project before-hand. Remove all other obligations during the time you will be focused only on your project and use the rush to get you through it. In this way, you are not only honoring what you know about yourself and how you perform, but you are also giving yourself the best chance of succeeding by clearing your schedule when you need it most.
Do you suffer from hedonistic delay?
If you find you’re allowing too much time devoted to instant gratification (scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, or YouTube) you may be experiencing a hedonistic delay. There are a couple of strategies you can use to help you with this. First, you can schedule your indulgence time. Plan to spend half your lunch hour scrolling or give yourself a block of time in order to satisfy your need for instant gratification. A second strategy is to consciously delay your instant gratification. Tell yourself you’ll set aside time later, this way you know you won’t miss out, on indulging while not letting a distraction get in the way of your productivity.
Are you struggling with an emotional event?
If you are dealing with a strong emotional event, it is very normal to have difficulty being productive. When this is happening, give yourself the gift of time to heal. Have self-compassion and set aside as many tasks as you can. Giving yourself time to heal from an emotional upset is as important as giving yourself time to heal from a physical injury. When you allow yourself to heal you will benefit both yourself and those you are caring for. In the long run you’ll have more to give from you are healthy and taking care of yourself.
Chronic work overload
If you are encountering chronic procrastination you may be suffering from a simple case of work overload. When our schedules are packed, we are constantly dealing with the most urgent task that needs our attention. This is a condition that is difficult to overcome because you can never get anything done in advance. Do what you can to delegate tasks to others and take time for self-care. If you allow yourself time to breathe and focus on you, space will open up in your life and you may no longer be constantly dealing with procrastination.
Do you really just need time to think?
Some of us need to delay our work, especially creative work so we can think about the problem before we begin. This is called a purposeful delay and it is productive. Don’t criticize yourself for letting your subconscious help you work out a problem while you do other tasks or spend time resting and relaxing.
Is your procrastination driven by something you can’t see?
The final explanation is irrational delay. Irrational delay is a form of not understanding why we procrastinate in the first place. We may be procrastinating because of fear of failure. Anxiety can cause us to avoid the work we need to do in order to delay what we perceive as something we may fail at. The strategy to overcome anxiety is to just find a way to start. Break the task down into small steps and begin.
If you are struggling with anxiety, talking to a therapist can also help enormously. There are effective, evidence-based therapeutic techniques to help you cope with and reduce your anxiety.
The secret to taking control
The secret to taking control is to allow yourself to prioritize your own needs. Procrastination is often about time. When you prioritize yourself, you are able to use more of your time for the things that are most important to you.
To prioritize yourself is not as easy as it sounds for several reasons. When we try and put it into practice we are met with a few barriers:
- We feel guilty because we’ve been taught it’s selfish
- It’s hard to prioritize when we feel guilty
- There is little support or encouragement for prioritizing ourselves
Mantras to overcome self-care guilt
- what I give to myself, I can give to others
- I am worthy of happiness and all that brings happiness
- I deserve joy
- I can and will make time to nourish my mind, body, and soul
- I am important
- I am doing my best
One of the keys to overcoming procrastination is self-care. Make sure you are not delaying taking care of you.
Jennifer Lauren Counseling
Jennifer Lauren Arceneaux, LMFT is a licensed Psychotherapist and Marriage and Family Therapist. She provides therapy in Culver City, California to couples, families, and individuals. If you would like to learn more, call and book your first appointment or fill out the contact form and click Send.
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