Culture, Featured, Self Help

Unraveling The Psychology Of Procrastination And How To Beat It

Nmesoma Okwudili


August 16, 2023

The act of delaying or postponing activities is what is known as procrastination, a cognitive phenomenon that affects people from all walks of life. Students appear to be particularly vulnerable to its effects in academic settings. A staggering 80% to 95% of undergraduates consistently give in to the allure of procrastination, manifesting in delays in completing important academic assignments, deferring the preparation for exams, or even sidestepping mundane household duties, according to a thorough meta-analysis published in the prestigious Psychological Bulletin in 2007. It is a relatable inclination, as many of us have at some point in our lives succumbed to its tempting pull.

Despite its seeming innocuous character, the consequences of procrastination are far from insignificant. Its negative effects go beyond time management and affect both our productivity and mental health, which ultimately has an impact on how successful we are as a whole. 

Procrastination often reflects a person’s battle with self-control. About 20 percent of people are habitual procrastinators, and for many of them, “I don’t feel like it” often takes priority over their goals or obligations. This can send them into a downward spiral of unfavourable feelings that makes them less likely to make an attempt in the future.

Procrastination can result from a complex interaction of psychological factors. The need for immediate pleasure is one of the main causes. We often seek rapid escape from boredom or exhaustion through diversions like social media, gaming, or entertainment, prioritising short-term pleasure over long-term advantages. Procrastination can also a result of fear of failure, as people put off work out of concern for their self-worth or to avoid the potential of falling below expectations.

A dearth of drive or confidence in one’s own abilities is another psychological factor in procrastination. People may doubt their capacity to do a task properly if it feels difficult or overwhelming, which makes them put off doing it in order to avoid feeling inadequate.

Self-deception is also a component of procrastination. Procrastinators understand their behavior and the repercussions to some extent, but breaking their habits takes more effort than finishing the task at hand.

Furthermore, perfectionism and procrastination are related, and perfectionism can cause people to delay starting a task until they are confident in their ability to complete it perfectly. This unattainable quest for excellence can breed a paralysing dread of making mistakes, which impedes on development and productivity.

How to Beat Procrastination:

1. Set priorities and define clear goals: Divide more difficult activities into smaller, more doable segments. Put your tasks in order of importance and completion dates to ensure you can concentrate on one at a time.

2. Create a Positive Attitude: Accept that mistakes are normal and that perfection isn’t always possible. Accept problems as chances for growth and improvement by adopting a growth mindset.

3. Utilise time management strategies, such as the Pomodoro Technique, in which you work for brief periods of time (such as 25 minutes), followed by a brief rest. This can aid in sustaining focus and avoiding fatigue.

4. Get Rid of Distractions: Make a list of typical distractions and design a productive workspace. Reduce social media use, disable notifications, and assign specific workstations to encourage concentration.

5. Exercise Self-Compassion: Be gentle with yourself and accept that everyone slacks off sometimes. Focus on growth and optimism rather than self-criticism.

6. Picture the Finish Line: Envision the feeling of success and relief you’ll feel once the challenge is accomplished. One may get started and increase motivation by using visualisation.

7. Reward Yourself: Create a system of incentives for doing chores promptly. After completing a task, reward yourself with something you like to promote positive mindset.

8. Sharing your goals with loved ones, close friends, or coworkers who can hold you accountable is the right step in seeking accountability and support. Having a team to work with can also be encouraging and motivating.

9. Confront Unfavourable Thoughts: If you find yourself making excuses for procrastination, confront those ideas. Think on the advantages of starting and completing the work.

10. Learn from Previous Procrastination: Consider previous instances of procrastination and pinpoint its causes. Create solutions for future prevention using this knowledge.

Recognising the complex psychology of procrastination is essential for properly combating this pervasive practice. People can significantly increase their productivity levels, reduce stress, and improve their general well-being by understanding the underlying causes of procrastination and using practical ways to battle it. Understanding that overcoming procrastination is a gradual process that requires patience and unflinching determination while using these transforming approaches is crucial. Armed with dedication and diligence, one can cultivate a proactive mindset, triumph over procrastination’s grip, and unlock the potential to attain their most cherished goals and aspiration


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