SAMU Wellbeing: Procrastination

by on Nov 3rd, 2020

Wellbeing blogs are written by the SAMU Wellbeing Assistant, Lauren Rundell.

  • Procrastination
    • Procrastination is a symptom of something else rather than a cause itself
    • Deciphering why you are procrastinating
      • The “real” problem behind your procrastination
    • Figuring out steps to combat that problem

What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is the “act of delaying or postponing something.” Procrastination comes in many different forms, namely five notable versions: The Perfectionist, the Planner, the Avoider, the Crisis-Maker and the Busy Procrastinator. Although procrastination styles are categorized into five different types, most people will experience at least a little bit of every type. Many online resources provide advice on managing procrastination based on which style you are, but this method doesn’t get to the cause of procrastination or how to address it.

What causes Procrastination?

Procrastination occurs when we experience an internal resistance or tension that gets in the way of us doing our work. When engaging in procrastination, most people know it’s not what they should be doing and typically end up feeling guilty because of it. So why do we continue to do it? Psychologists theorize that we engage in this behavior because we lack the tools to cope with the tension effectively. When we experience unpleasant emotions or tasks and cannot effectively cope, we end up procrastinating to receive short-term and immediate relief. The ironic part here is that most people who are procrastinating don’t feel good about it. Our tendency to procrastinate difficult activities points to a difficulty with emotional regulation more than a problem with time management. “Short-term mood repair” – Dr. Tim Pychyl.

What are ways to deal with Procrastination?

Solving procrastination can seem complicated since the reasons for procrastination are often more complex than we realize. The methods to take to help your procrastination depend on what you are experiencing at that moment, but you can take a few key steps to get started.  Mainly, the way to deal with procrastination is to show yourself compassion. Procrastinating sucks and often leads to feelings of guilt, which only add to our problems. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself procrastinating. A simple self-care act can typically spark us to take further steps to address that which we are avoiding. Remember: it’s better to do something imperfectly than to not do it at all. By being softer with yourself, lowering your expectations, not beating yourself up for not accomplishing all the things exactly how you want to will help you do these things. The next helpful step is to address what’s standing in your way and minimize that. If you feel guilty because you know you have to work on homework, but you just want to lay in bed, then do your homework in bed. You can’t bring yourself to get up and get dressed? Try doing your homework in bed, in your pajamas. Break your task down into the smallest task you can imagine. If this smallest task still seems too daunting, break it down even smaller until you have something manageable. Typically, the sense of accomplishment you feel from just starting will propel you to get even more things done.