Fun Fact before we start: Ironically, I wanted to write this article a few days ago but then I….
That’s right I procrastinated, but it’s not that surprising. After all, who doesn’t? Whether you’re a little toddler, a middle-schooler like me, a full-grown adult, or even a toothless old man, I can bet a hundred percent that you have procrastinated at least once in your life!
But the question is, why? Why do we procrastinate? And is there a scientific way to stop?
Now let’s start off with the basics. What is procrastination? Procrastination is a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences.
Procrastination is more of a coping mechanism rather than a disorder. It is a “way of handling challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt, and beyond.” In simpler words, our brain tries to find flaws in the assigned task, so that we have a reason not to do it. Most of the time, the brain convinces us that completing this task will bring unpleasant emotions such as boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt, etc and so that stops you from doing it. Your reason for procrastination all depends on the work you are doing and how you feel about it.
For example, if the task you are doing is something you have done before and found easy, your brain will assure you that doing this will evoke boredom. You don’t want to feel bored, we are already in quarantine, we get our daily dose of boredom every day! So what do you do? You pass it off, and off, and off until it is due.
Similarly, these thoughts can result in you underestimating how much time it will take in completing the task. This definitely happens to me and I’m sure all of you have experienced this as well. I save my assignments for the last minute, thinking that the task will take hardly any time. I am proved wrong when the assignment is actually very difficult and takes me the whole night to complete!
Alternatively, if the task you are doing is something you have never done before, or perhaps, have done but have not gotten good results with, your brain will find a way to over exaggerate how difficult it will be, how much time it will take, etc. Namely, if you are not the most talented artist and have been assigned an art project, your brain will convince you that completing or even trying this task, will result in frustration and failure. You will start expecting that doing this task will make you feel incompetent and unsuccessful. And because of this, you will keep on procrastinating and avoiding it, until it is due.
But I’m sure all of us are asking, how can we stop procrastinating? How can we stop avoiding it?
Now if you think about it, procrastination is based mainly on psychology. What we think about the task, how we feel about doing the task, is what makes us procrastinate. So in order to stop this, we need to change our thinking and our mindset.
If the task is something you have done before and easy for you, don’t make this a reason for you to not do it, instead, make it a reason to do it. Be sensible and take responsibility to complete your assignments! In my years of middle school, I have learned that excuses are not hard to think of, there are plenty of them out there you can take the support of, but those excuses will ultimately do you no good. Change your mindset, so that you are not looking for excuses, but rather, motivation to do the task at hand!
But if you feel that the task is difficult and will take time to complete, again change your mindset about it. Make this a reason for you to complete it earlier and faster, so you will not have problems doing it later. Dr. Bill Knaus from Psychology Today advises, “Adopt a "no-failure" mindset to reduce your self-doubt. He suggests that you “experiment and see what happens,” rather than stopping yourself with unproven predictions.” Change your thinking, be ready to learn! Take the task as a challenge for you to complete and don’t be afraid of failure.
Now I feel that if I had read these tips, I would be heavily disappointed. I get that a lot of people want the easy way out. And I know that almost everybody read this segment expecting to obtain a magical mantra that would get rid of all forms of procrastination in their life. But the truth is, the world doesn’t work like that! You need to work hard for the betterment of your school-life, your career, and even your life.
Anyways, I hope you all learned something new from this article and will apply some of the tips I gave into your life! See you all next time!