Procrastination has been around for quite a long time. We are all familiar with this bad habit that causes us stress and anxiety as the deadline approaches. But why do we procrastinate? One of the individual factors that may make you susceptible to procrastination is low self-esteem or self-confidence. This refers to a gap between the demands of the task or of the person who will evaluate your performance and your self-perceived ability, from which anxiety arises. To cope with this negative affect, your mind tries to relocate your attention to other tasks. Another reason we procrastinate is we often hold this irrational belief about what the world expects from us. In other words, we believe that people expect us to go above and beyond our assigned task and when we canâ€™t meet these unrealistic expectations, we find ourselves feeling incompetent, which in turn causes us to procrastinate.
Based on my personal experience, here are some suggestions to help you overcome procrastination:
1. Try being more mindful and monitor your feelings and thoughts when youâ€™re tempted to procrastinate. If it turns out that every time your in a bad mood you tend to procrastinate, then focus your efforts on self-care in order to get out of that head space, before you attempt to complete the task.
2. Start today, even if itâ€™s just for 10 minutes. When people think of completing a task they tend to focus too much on the final product. My suggestion is to focus instead on the minuscule steps that lead to the end goal. Plan out the steps and aim to accomplish ONE at a time. This will make the task feel less overwhelming.
3. Turn off all distracting stimuli and focus on the task for 30 minutes to an hour, followed by a short break. It is better to work in smaller intervals than to work for longer durations of time, such as working for 6 hours straight. Our brain naturally goes through cycles with peaks and valleys, so itâ€™s important to follow this rhythm in order to maximize output.
4. Visualize yourself starting the task at the last possible moment and what that would feel like. Likely just the thought of doing something last minute will elicit feelings of panic and anxiety, which will hopefully be motivating enough to start early.
By:Â Ruihong Yuan
Ruihong is a graduateÂ from University of Toronto with a major in Psychology and Physics. He is currentlyÂ looking to gain either clinical or research experiences in psychology. His goal is to become a clinical psychologist with his own practice and research in order to help people improve their lives and explore the mysterious human mind.