We’re all guilty of putting off a task because “I don’t feel like doing it” or “I’ll do it later.” If you wait until the last moment to get started on your task, you may be wondering why you procrastinated.
Tim Urban, founder of the famous blog, Wait But Why, is no exception. Urban shared a story of his 90-page senior thesis in college and how he spent months thinking, ‘I’ll get it started on it tomorrow.‘
Unfortunately, tomorrow never came, and months passed by without writing a single word. Then suddenly, Urban had only three days until the deadline. Thus, he pulled two all-nighters and finished a project that required months within 72 hours. And the thesis was terrible.
Today, Tim Urban is a professional writer and a popular speaker who continues to procrastinate. But after completing his terrible thesis, Urban went to get an MRI to learn what goes inside the brain of a master procrastinator.
When you understand the underlying causes of procrastination, you can identify the right strategies to overcome them. Thus, you reach your full potential and start chasing your dreams.
What Goes Inside the Minds of Master Procrastinators?
Tim Urban, in his TED talk, built a framework representing the procrastinator’s system:
- The Rational Decision-Maker
- The Instant Gratification Monkey
- The Panic Monster
The Rational Decision-Maker
Our brains have a rational decision-maker that is responsible for making sound decisions. It takes information into account and causes you to do whatever makes the best sense.
The Rational Decision-Maker allows us to do the following tasks:
- Visualize the future
- See the bigger picture
- Start chasing our goals
- Make long-term plans
The Instant Gratification Monkey
The Instant Gratification Monkey does not have any memory of the past and the future; instead, it lives entirely in the present. In addition, it only cares about two things: fun and ease.
Staying aware of instant gratification money is essential to combat procrastination, especially since the Monkey doesn’t work well in modern civilization.
The Panic Monster
The Panic Monster is typically dormant, and he wakes up whenever:
- There’s a danger of public embarrassment
- A deadline gets too close
The Instant Gratification Monkey fears the Panic Monster. Thus, whenever the Panic Monster shows up, the Monkey gives up control to the Rational Decision-Maker.
Master procrastinators procrastinate in the following ways:
- Procrastination on things with deadlines
When it comes to tasks with deadlines, master procrastinators deal it in the following way:
- They understand that procrastination has short-term effects owing to short-term deadlines
- The Panic Monster steps in when deadlines approach
- Work gets done in time
- Procrastination on things without deadlines
In this type of procrastination, master procrastinators follow these steps:
- Since there is no foreseeable deadline, this type of procrastination can be very dangerous
- The Panic Monster is never triggered
- You can procrastinate forever
Chronic vs. Acute Procrastination
Chronic procrastination refers to the long-term tendency to engage in long, unnecessary delays. On the other hand, acute procrastination is the short-term tendency to put off important tasks.
Here are several important conditions about the two types of procrastination:
- The severity of the procrastination plays a critical role in determining whether you suffer from long-term or acute procrastination
- Some chronic procrastinators procrastinate only in particular areas of their lives
- Chronic procrastination is the long-term tendency to postpone things rather than putting off things for long times
What are the Causes of Long-Term Procrastination?
Long-term procrastination is comparatively less visible and less discussed. In addition, these types of procrastinators suffer quietly and privately, causing long-term unhappiness, regret, and lost opportunities.
Long-term procrastination occurs due to various reasons, including:
- Feeling disconnected from your future self
- Having abstract goals
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Suffering from anxiety, fear of failure, or negative feedback
- Feeling resentment towards specific tasks or the person who assigned the tasks
- Suffering from mental or physical exhaustion
- Struggling with negative perfectionism
- Feeling task aversions because it is too boring
- Engaging in sensation seeking
Examples of Long-Term Procrastination
Here are several common examples of long-term procrastination:
- A student who repeatedly postpones working on assignments and theses until before the deadline. They may continue to do this even if the delay stresses them out.
- A business professional who always postpones essential tasks even if it means that they have to rush, thus producing poor quality work.
- A person who procrastinates going to bed on time by scrolling through various social media apps.
- A chronic procrastinator who postpones a project they are passionate about, such as writing a book, creating a masterpiece, or starting their business.
What are the Signs of Chronic Procrastination?
Let’s discuss the key signs that can help you determine whether you’re a chronic procrastinator:
- A recurring habit of not meeting long-term and short-term deadlines
- Delaying things in multiple areas of life, such as work, interpersonal relations, friends, etc.
- Procrastinating on a weekly or daily basis
- Getting distracted easily
- Have difficulty admitting that you procrastinate to yourself and friends or family
- Filling your time with minor, less important tasks
- Feeling so stressed that it affects your sleep, eating habits, and overall health
- Unable to stop procrastinating despite facing unwanted consequences
What are the Effects of Long-Term Procrastination?
Challenging emotions and negative moods, such as boredom, anxiety, frustration, self-doubt, and resentment, can cause chronic procrastination.
It means that procrastination is an emotion regulation problem rather than a time management issue. As such, it can cause various effects, including:
- Career setbacks
- Chronic illnesses
- Chronic stress
- Damaged relationships
- General psychological distress
- Low life satisfaction
- Lowered self-esteem
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety
What Are Some Easy and Fun Ways Master Procrastinators Can be Successful at Battling Procrastination to Achieve Their Dreams?
To overcome long-term procrastination, you need first to identify the root of procrastination. Then, you need to apply the following anti-procrastination techniques:
- Break your work into small and manageable steps.
- Set intermediate goals and deadlines of a larger project.
- Identify your productivity cycles and avoid scheduling essential tasks on times you struggle to be creative.
- Create a clutter-free and calm environment to make working easier.
- Change your setting in a way that makes procrastination tricky.
- Finish new tasks by committing to tiny steps.
- Start with either the best or the worst parts to motivate yourself.
- Reward yourself for achieving particular tasks.
- Make work enjoyable by adding music, brightening up your workplace, etc.
- Focus on achieving your goals rather than finishing tasks.
The Bottom Line
Chronic or long-term procrastination can make it difficult for you to finish any task in all areas of your life. Thus, your finances, academic, work, and personal relationships can suffer.
Use the anti-procrastinating tips mentioned above to combat procrastination, so you can achieve your goals and dreams.
For more help on reducing procrastination, so you can create your ideal business and ideal life, reach out to me today and schedule your complimentary consultation.
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