Written by Janine Canaday, LPC, LCPC
It’s Thursday, you have a project that is due tomorrow and you have not even started to think about how you will complete it. Time is ticking away. Minute by minute, hour by hour. You know that you need to work on it, but cannot seem to get yourself started. This seems to be a familiar feeling that happens more frequently. You have a task, assignment or project that needs to be done, but any ounce of motivation has escaped you. Binge watching Netflix specials or funny cat videos seems to be more appealing and less taxing on your mind.
So….you decide to give in to the temptation of procrastination. “I will just do it later.”
The dragon of procrastination makes you believe that in the moment, doing it later is a better option. Only for you to feel more stressed, anxious, frustrated or depressed as a result of waiting until later.
What is procrastination, really? It is often characterized by the avoidance of difficult tasks or purposefully finding distractions. It is the reflection of the struggle of self-control and the inability of accurately predicting future feelings and desires. You may say, “I will just do it tomorrow or later” insinuating that you already know you will have the desire to do it then. In reality, you do not know this for sure. There may be the presence of fear of failing/succeeding at a task or a belief that you work better under pressure, therefore you put it off.
Procrastination is not a problem of productivity, but a battle of the mind.
We all procrastinate to some degree, but some suffer from it. When stress and conflicting emotions presents themselves, procrastination seems like a harmless way to cope. Most of us would rather feel better in the moment forgoing the consequences of dealing with our feelings later. We essentially experience a struggle with managing our emotions effectively, not our time.
We must shift our inner voice from I “have to” to I “want to.” Improving our emotional regulation, or ability to cope with our emotions in a healthy way is essential.
You can start here:
1. Appreciate Yourself- Reframe from thinking negatively about yourself for procrastinating. Beating yourself up about it can lead to feeling stuck in ruminating about procrastination. Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Being kind to yourself helps to build a strong foundation of resilience against the dragon.
2. Practice Mindfulness- Being more aware of your thoughts helps you to be more reflective of the feelings you are experiencing. Present awareness creates a deeper level of understanding of your emotions, therefore reducing procrastination. Instead of avoiding or amplifying your emotions, deal with them in the present moment. Acknowledge your feelings, feel what you need to feel, process them and then make a decision to move forward.
3. Take Action- Introspection will get you but so far. You must take the first step. Break down your goals into achievable small steps. Set deadlines. Prioritize. Just start. Be proud of yourself doing it now.
If you or someone you know is experiencing challenges with managing emotions in healthy ways, please seek support. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with me, please contact me!