What is procrastination, why does it occur, and what does it say about you?
Simply put, procrastination is putting off something you need to do until later. Procrastinating can turn from an occasional event to repetition. Everyone occasionally procrastinates to some extent. Often this procrastination is easily identifiable and is generally associated with a feeling of a lack of motivation to complete a task which is uninteresting to you. Procrastination is not the same as being overwhelmed with too many tasks and not having enough time to complete them.
Procrastination is simply avoiding completing a task. But for many, procrastination is more than just the occasional lack of motivation to complete mundane tasks; rather it is pervasive and seeps into many areas of life. It is disruptive and interferes with normal everyday living in a subtle, but distinctive way as it begins to affect family relationships, friendships and even has an effect on working relationships.
The subtle intrusion of procrastination which is becoming a problem may manifest in the following ways. Family members may complain that you never do what they ask you to do; they may tell you that they feel they have to nag you. Nagging is an unattractive trait, especially for the person that is doing the nagging as ultimately they are nagging because you will not cooperate. You may hear friends say that you are unreliable, or they do not think you are reliable, or perhaps even entitled. Your boss or co-workers may make jokes, or snide flippant comments because of your constant lateness, or your inability to meet deadlines.
If this, or similar responses are occurring in your life because of your procrastination, then you may be dealing with depression. Depression is not just crying or sleeping as many believe. Depression presents itself in different ways with different people. Moderate to severe procrastination is an indication that you are probably experiencing some underlying feelings of depression. Eventually the occasional thought of “I’ll do this later” turns into “I can’t do this.” You may have the underlying belief, or self-fulfilling prophecy of “I can’t succeed, so why try.”
Depression and Procrastination are interwoven. Nonetheless you can take steps to change your behaviour and to minimize and limit your procrastination all together. First, notice that this is a significant behaviour affecting your life that you have control over. Second, recognize when you are engaging in the behaviour and instead of putting off the activity, do the activity you are avoiding. Third, notice how you feel about yourself when you complete the task without delay.
You should notice that you have more positive feelings about yourself and eventually with constant attention to eradicate this behaviour, you will begin to see your mood be uplifted, relationships improve and greater self-confidence. If you feel procrastination has become a significant part of your life and feel you may need help to change this behaviour contact a local Clinical Psychologist for an appointment so they may assess you for depression.
By Dr Miranda Vincins, CPsychol.