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Overcoming Procrastination: Breaking a Bad Habit

Imagine that you’re getting ready to complete a task – whether that’s working on a project or going on a run – but something gets in the way.  

Instead of completing the task you set out to accomplish, you find yourself scrolling on your phone or watching TV. 

Why do we do this? Why do we delay the accomplishment of tasks? Why is it so hard to push through that indiscriminate something preventing you from moving forward? 

That something is known as procrastination – the bane of accomplishment. 

What is procrastination? 

Procrastination is a form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences.

Simply put, you delay important tasks until the last minute.  

About 20 percent of adults have regular bouts of procrastination, so if you fit in this category, you’re probably wondering why you procrastinate. 

Why do we procrastinate? 

The reason people procrastinate is less about the lack of self-control, but more about struggling to deal with challenging emotions and negative moods around a task.

On a surface level, your task to reach a particular goal may be boring and unpleasant, but looking deeper, emotions such as anxiety, frustration and self-doubt start to emerge within yourself. 

The science backs this up. A study by Sirois and Pychyl (2013) found that procrastination fails to repair negative emotions in the short-term, getting in the way of longer-term goal pursuit. 

The act of procrastinating provides momentary relief away from these overwhelming emotions. As a result, procrastination propels us into a chronic bad habit, becoming increasingly difficult to break out of this cycle. 

So, what can you do to overcome procrastination? 

  1. Understanding – Acknowledging that procrastination arises as a way to regulate negative emotions is a good place to start. Self-forgiveness supports productivity as you move past feelings of burden and guilt. 
  1. Commitment – Accepting these challenges with greater kindness will help alleviate reoccurring fears and reduce avoidance. Self-compassion has been shown to boost motivation and personal growth by fostering positive emotions, such as optimism and curiosity. 
  1. Action – Try breaking down goals into smaller tasks, and reframing these tasks to consider any positive aspects that will occur as a result. If you’re struggling along the way, seeking advice from a life coach, or family and friends, can be valuable in helping you refocus on your commitments. Removing any distractions will also bring focus to your tasks. 

Although it may feel that you are at the mercy of procrastination, this is not the case. By understanding and committing to taking action against procrastination, you will finish that task before you know it! 

Ceed can assist you in this process. We can provide you with a dedicated life coach who will hold you accountable to your desired goals. Take a look at our service here for more information! 

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