Chronic procrastination: what is it, why is it dangerous and how to deal with it?

The term "procrastination" appeared in 1977, it refers to the tendency of the subject to postpone the implementation of an important task, shifting his attention to matters of secondary importance. This condition takes on a chronic form when the habit of putting off develops into a lifestyle, which ultimately leads to psychological problems.

A person can get rid of chronic procrastination only if he honestly admits to himself that the problem exists. Moreover, the problem is complex. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with it, given this circumstance.

What is chronic procrastination?

Some people believe that procrastination is ordinary laziness. However, this is an erroneous judgment.

  • Laziness is a condition in which a person does not want to do something and does not feel any concern about this.
  • BUT procrastination - this is a condition in which he is fully aware of the importance and necessity of performing certain actions, but does not carry them out, switching to entertainment or to household trifles. However, he always finds excuses and explanations for such behavior.
  • Procrastination is an illusion of action. The subject replaces the performance of important matters with something else. He does not just transfer unpleasant work to another term. A person begins to do something else, convincing himself that he will surely carry out what is needed, but only later, when certain favorable conditions come.
Main signs
  • Besides, procrastination differs from laziness as follows. Being lazy, a person has a rest and during this period replenishes energy reserves. But in a state of procrastination, he loses his energy. After all, at first he spends it on minor trifles, and then on the fight against mounting anxiety about the need to carry out important things.
  • I must say that this condition is familiar to almost every individual. All people experienced it to a greater or lesser extent. And to a certain level, this phenomenon can be considered normal. The problem arises when procrastination becomes a normal, “natural” state of the subject, acquiring a chronic form. This is the most dangerous type of procrastination. In this state, a person does not even pretend that he will accomplish something. And life energy gradually leaves him.

The well-known specialist in the field of procrastination, Professor Joseph Ferrari divides procrastinators into three main types:

  • Thrill lovers - Persons who prefer to delay the completion of business until the deadlines in order to feel an adrenaline rush from the current tense situation, when it is likely not to have time to solve the tasks.
  • Gray mice - avoid work because of fear that they will not be able to cope with it. Such people are very dependent on other people's opinions and are sensitive to criticism. For the "mice" it is preferable to stay in the shade, rather than rushing forward and making some mistakes.
  • Irresponsible - such people do not want to answer for anything. They do nothing, because they avoid responsibility for the results.

Causes of Chronic Procrastination

Physiologists explain the causes of procrastination by the conflict of two areas of the human brain:

  • The prefrontal cortex is responsible for concentration.
  • The limbic system responsible for pleasure.

When the upcoming task seems to us difficult to accomplish or very boring, the part of the brain associated with pleasure is activated. She begins to demand positive emotions. As a result, we begin to look for ways to somehow entertain ourselves, and put off the unpleasant work.

Important not to put off
  • Most of us are able to show willpower and not be distracted from the necessary work. However, some people can not cope with this task.
  • There are several theories about the causes of chronic procrastination in humans. However, none of them is scientific and universally recognized.

Most often, the following causes of chronic procrastination are called specialists:

  • Uncertainty. A person is not confident in his abilities or in the fact that the business that he planned will be accepted by society. Due to low self-esteem, he does not believe that he is able to cope with the task and cannot decide whether to spend his strength and energy on it. Therefore, it postpones the execution of work for an indefinite period.
  • Fear. It may appear as a result of a bad experience in the past. Therefore, a person does not want to experience negative feelings again. Putting things off can also be linked to fear of success. In this case, the procrastinator deliberately limits himself, fearing possible achievements and universal recognition. Such a person from childhood is afraid to seem better than the rest. The reasons can be different: fear of responsibility, possible criticism from the outside or excessive demands that may be made in the future.
  • A sense of controversy and rebellion. The state of chronic procrastination can be caused by the desire of an individual to demonstrate to others that he has his own outlook on life and does not want to follow generally accepted standards and rules. Such people are annoyed by externally imposed roles. By putting off business and sabotaging work, the rebels are trying to prove to the world their independence and the right to their own choice.
  • Perfectionism. People who are characterized by this feature always strive for excellence and focus too much on unimportant details. Perfectionists are tormented by the fear that the results of their work will not be ideal. Such people live on the principle of "all or nothing."
  • If they are not sure that everything will turn out perfectly, they won’t even start. In addition, such individuals can consciously or subconsciously create “emergency” situations when deadlines are burning or other circumstances are crushing. The fact is that perfectionists often believe that a good result can be achieved only in case of strong stress and pressure.
  • Creative search. Often, chronic procrastination overcomes creative people. When a person creates something, he does not know for sure what will turn out in the end. He cannot guess what the final drawing, poem or musical composition will become. The uncertainty of the final results gives rise to internal anxiety, which can develop into real fear. Perfectionism also connects to this fear, when the creator wants the result of his work to be perfect. As a result, the execution of a drawing, article or song is postponed. This circumstance can lead to the fact that a person who, in principle, is engaged in what he loves, will simply begin to hate his job.
In search
  • Temporary motivation. The individual considers any action useful when fully confident in its successful completion and a certain reward at the end. Less useful is the matter until the completion of which there is still quite a lot of time. That is, the further the goal is from a person, the less desire he has to achieve it. Especially if delays in work are tolerated by such a person very painfully. And vice versa, the closer the goal, the more diligently it works.

What is the danger of chronic procrastination?

Some people think that procrastination - The problem is far-fetched, and there is nothing wrong with this state. However, for those who are prone to its chronic form, life becomes simply excruciating.

We list the danger of chronic procrastination:

  • Procrastinator postpones all affairs for an indefinite time, "for later", and then either abandons the plan, or tries to do everything in one fell swoop in a very short time. As a result, important tasks are performed by them poorly or not performed at all. This inevitably leads to trouble in the service due to violated deadlines. Thus, career growth and personal development are inhibited.
  • Unfulfilled obligations become cause conflicts with others. Relations with relatives and relatives are gradually weakening, which can lead to loneliness of the procrastinator.
  • With chronic procrastination, self-esteem decreases. This condition does not allow a person to reach his potential, because he does not devote enough time to the main tasks, but is always distracted by trifles. As a result, he feels guilty, dissatisfied with himself and is in a state of constant stress.
Self-esteem worsens
  • Existence in a prolonged stressful situation negatively affects the well-being of procrastinators. They have reduced immunity, digestive problems, nervousness or sleep disturbance may begin. From the constant postponement of affairs, energy from a person gradually leaves, and his body gradually fades away. That is why chronic procrastinators in the morning feel overwhelmed and tired. They are lethargic, they constantly sleepy.
  • In chronic procrastination in humans prioritization is distorted. He makes a choice in favor of momentary pleasure, rather than future prospects.
  • If we do not fulfill what conceived or planned our energy is wasted. The guilt that we feel at the same time eats us from the inside. In eastern culture, such unfinished business is considered an excessive burden that a person carries. And the more unfinished business he has, the less effort to carry them out.
  • Proven to be chronic procrastinators are prone to alcohol abuse. The reason is that they can not only start to do something in time, but also stop in time.
  • Procrastination - It is, in a way, a dependency on putting things off. And you need to get rid of addiction. There is no joy in living a “delayed" life, and it cannot be. Fantasies cannot make life vibrant and interesting.

How to deal with chronic procrastination?

  • First of all, treat procrastination as a signal from your body that you are going in the wrong direction. And your body simply refuses to do what it does not want. Try to find the true reason for putting off your affairs.
  • Unfortunately, there is no universal method for getting rid of chronic procrastination. This is due to the fact that the causes that give rise to it are individual for each person. For each reason, there are separate methods of struggle.

Psychologists offer a number of techniques to significantly reduce this negative state:

  • Due to the fact that procrastination is directly related to motivation, then in some cases, a solution to the problem may be a change of work or study. However, such a measure is quite radical, which may not suit everyone. Especially if the cause of chronic procrastination is personal characteristics (increased anxiety, perfectionism, low self-esteem). Such a person will remain in a state of procrastination and at a new job.
Motivation is important
  • Try to find in every action pleasant or beneficial effects. Learn to enjoy having completed some not-so-pleasant job for you. When starting a new business, remember your past victories. This will be an incentive for your further actions and will help maintain a positive attitude in your work. Reward yourself for success, praise yourself for what you have already done.
  • Find your thoughts and body here and now. When doing any work, immerse yourself in it completely. Avoid estimating how much remains to be done. Know that enthusiasm and energy appear only after you begin to do the work.
  • Motivation lies not in thinking about the action, but in the action itself. It is in the process of immersion in work that joyful excitement and anticipation of the results appear. You just need to start. The same goes for the creative process. Get all the ideas you have out of your head. Having started, you cannot stop the internal flow of artistic images. And among many ideas, at least one is sure to be worthwhile.
  • If your chronic procrastination due to the spirit of controversy, then replace the installation “I should” with “I decided” or “I chose”. In this case, the obligation to do something is transformed into free choice. And the implementation of the tasks that you have determined for yourself will become a strong internal motivation for action.
  • Plan your upcoming day, month, year. Schedule as you like. First, you can record all important and urgent matters, then secondary ones. Or list all that needs to be done, in alphabetical order. A visual list always disciplines a person. In addition, psychologists argue that the cause of stress often becomes the need to remember all upcoming matters and the inevitability of a choice of what needs to be done first. So unload your brain and write down on paper everything that is planned. Indicate the dates, if relevant. Follow your list, doing things in the order that is most convenient for you. You can make two lists - general tasks and daily tasks.
  • If you put off some kind of global business too (for example, to learn a foreign language or make a large-scale project), then break your goal into small stages that will take place daily.
  • Deal with your fears. Try to understand why you are postponing any particular work. What is so unpleasant about her that makes you put it off? It is more productive to analyze the roots of fear in writing. Realizing the true reasons, you can overcome difficulties. Think, maybe this unpleasant thing for you can be assigned to another person or arrange everything in such a way that it does not need to be performed at all. Try to find at least a temporary solution that will satisfy you.
Important to fight fears
  • If the condition of chronic procrastination is related to your perfectionism, start doing "how it goes." Understand that it is better to do something imperfect than not to do at all. You need to achieve, first of all, productivity, and only then perfection. The pursuit of it leads to the fact that a person simply overestimates the complexity of the upcoming task. When you learn to be productive, the results of your work will become better and better. Do not compare yourself with others and stop polishing irrelevant trifles. This leads only to a waste of time and energy.
  • Balance your work and leisure time. Distribute your powers wisely. Before you start a business, soberly evaluate your own capabilities. Do not take it all at once. It’s not necessary to constantly work. Plan your time for idleness. Planned idleness helps restore energy and strength.
  • Replace the concept of "problem" with the term "task". You will feel the difference immediately. The brain rejects the problem, perceiving it as an unpleasant phenomenon. Whereas a task, on the contrary, motivates the brain to search for its solution.
  • Accustom yourself to do those little things right away the execution of which will take no more than two minutes: put the folder in place, wipe the shoes, make a call, copy the file, etc. The principle here is this - saw, made, forgot. You may not succeed right away. However, over time this will become a habit.
  • In the case when chronic procrastination is caused by you the need to experience the thrill, then find another way to release adrenaline. Engage in extreme sports (skydiving, hunting, car racing).
  • Let the world know about your plans. Publish a post on social networks where you commit to do so-and-so. Tell as many people as you can about it. Then you will just be ashamed not to fulfill the promise.
  • Imagine that you have already completed the work. This is an interesting approach in overcoming chronic procrastination. According to this theory, a sense of satisfaction from imaginary successful results gives a person an incentive to begin real actions.
Think of completion
  • An interesting technique for dealing with chronic procrastination is suggested by philosophy professor John Perry. He thinks she needs to Do not suppress, but transform into help. Most procrastinators, putting off some work, still do something, just not so urgent or important. Therefore, you just need to direct this energy in the right direction. John Perry also suggests making a to-do list. Important goals must go first, and then secondary ones.
  • Usually, procrastinator will begin to solve secondary problems. However, then it will taste, as it were, "swinging". And this will allow him to get to the top of the list. Perhaps important things will not be done all the same. But still, a person will develop the habit of acting. Of course, this theory cannot be called a solution to the problem, but in some cases the substitution of one occupation with another can be effective.

Each person individually decides which option to combat chronic procrastination is. The main thing - do not look for excuses like "these methods do not suit me" or "I have a different situation." Give it a try!

If one method does not help you, try the following. And for a start, learn to imagine why this or that action is needed, and what impact it may have in the future on subsequent life.

With perseverance and a true desire to change the situation, you will emerge victorious from the battle with chronic procrastination. Starting to work on yourself, you will certainly find positive changes.

How to improve life after getting rid of chronic procrastination?

The efforts that you put into the fight against chronic procrastination will pay off by improving the quality of life:

  • You will get rid of stress.
  • Increase your self-esteem, which will help you gain confidence in your abilities.
  • Start to work faster and more fruitfully and significantly increase labor productivity.
  • You will receive satisfaction from the work performed.
  • Your life will become much more interesting and brighter.
Life will be brighter

We wish you success in getting rid of chronic procrastination!

Watch the video: What Happens When You Procrastinate Too Much (February 2020).