Use Procrastination to your Advantage


procrastination2Everyone can point out the cons in procrastinating, but what about the pros? Are there any pros in procrastinating? Is there a successful way to procrastinate? I know we can all relate on some level where our procrastination has gone wrong resulting in receiving a failing grade, getting late fees tagged on to your bill or not making a deadline at work causing disruption in productivity. This article will discuss two types procrastination, unsuccessful and successful aspect of it.

One of the disadvantages of procrastination is that it is known as the thief of time. When we engage in temporary distractions to avoid a task(s), we often set ourselves up for increased stress and raised anxiety levels. Also, having less time to complete the task properly or to your best ability. You may even risk not completing the work at all. Let’s explore some reasons why people procrastinate:

1.Fear of failure. People avoid starting projects due to fear of the completed project. Your need to finish the project is overpowered by your concern of what others may think, disappointing others or believing you are incapable. Work toward combating your fear by visualizing yourself completing the project and being satisfied with its outcome.

2.Avoidance. Avoidance is a maladaptive coping mechanism that often shows up in the form of procrastination. If there’s a not so positive memory associated with a location or experience, avoiding completing that task in connection with the prior experience will likely surface. Avoidance serves to protect from psychological harm. An example includes avoiding interacting with a co-worker who you do not necessarily get along with although you both assigned to complete a project together that is due at the end of the week.

3. Lack of motivation. We may say, “I’m just not motivated” or “it is hard to get started.” Over the years, I have learned motivation kicks in once you start. In college, I lack the motivation to write papers. I would commit one hour in the library to grab journal articles, which create a spark to reading the research, thus motivating me to write a research paper on my findings.

4.Rewarding. The act of procrastinating can provide smaller rewards than larger rewards. We may delay completing a chore at home, only to know that our partner will complete the task later that week. Another example can include procrastinating meeting with your boss to avoid a serious conversation.

After exploring the time snatchers above, let see how to procrastinate successfully. People who successfully participate in procrastination are known to do four key things:

1) Embrace it. Some people perform better under pressure. They concentration better when the pressure is on. Those with ADHD are often successful in procrastination. However, there is often guilt due to not starting the project earlier even when there is a history of completing projects on time. It is suggested that you embrace your planned procrastination to produce your best work.

2) Be honest. When you are planning your procrastination, be honest about when you will start. Explore your past experiences of how effective you were with the minimal amount of time and adjust accordingly.

3) Schedule it. Yes, schedule your planned procrastination. Circle the date on your calendar and set an alarm on your smartphone. For successful procrastination to work, there has to be an opportunity of when you will complete the task.

4) Do it. Just do it!

To further explore the impact of how procrastination affects your life answer these questions: Think about a time you avoided a task and remembered your reasons for avoiding that task. What problems did this create for you? How did you feel? Now, think about a time you decided not to procrastinate. Why did you choose not to avoid this task? Described the positive things that happened because you completed this task. How did you feel? Which questions gave you a better feeling about yourself? What changes do you see yourself making? Use the tools in this article to help you avoid getting robbed from the best usage of your time, energy, and abilities whether you choose to reframe from procrastination or practice successful procrastination.

Abel, J.L. (2014). Resistant, anxiety, worry and panic: 86 practical treatment strategies for clinicians. pp 147-154

Shayla Peterson, LCSW