Guidebook for Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination is regarded typically as a function of laziness, apathy, or work ethic but is not. It’s when someone is hesitant when it comes to the prospect of doing anything that presents themselves, which is pretty much everything.

Guidebook to overcoming procrastination
Guidebook to overcoming procrastination. Source: Hygger

Procrastination is also neither relaxation. Relaxation recharges you with energy, whereas Procrastination is putting off and collecting stress and anxiety of putting off work that could be completed now.

The word “procrastination” comes from the Latin term “pro”, which translates to “for tomorrow.”

A common misconception about procrastinators is that they have poor time management skills, which isn’t the case.

Overcoming procrastination is really important if you want to do great things in your life but to overcome anything, we must first understand what it is that we are trying to win over. Here is the science behind Psychology.

The science behind Procrastination and how it affects you

science behind Procrastination

Procrastinators tend to be people who compare their performance with their value as a person. This makes failure or criticism naturally painful and leads to hesitancy when it comes to completing an activity or doing anything that reflects their ability. It’s a neurotic self-defense behavior that is developed to protect a person’s self-worth.

Procrastination is when long-term rewards or punishments do not motivate the present self. It’s exactly how when you have a week to work on a report but don’t do it until the very last few hours on the last day to do it. For a procrastinator to complete a task, the future consequences have to be present consequences. The problem is not doing the work but more so starting the work.

Still Waiting Reaction GIF by MOODMAN

In the past years, Procrastination has received a burst of special interest. Researchers have now recognized that there is far more to it than simply putting something off until later.

One of the first-ever studies done about Procrastination was in Psychological Science back in 1997, where they tracked their academic performance, stress, and general health throughout the semester. Surprisingly there were benefits to procrastination, as those students compared to others had lower levels of stress as a result of putting off their work to go after more pleasurable activities.

However, the cost of Procrastination far outweighed the temporary benefits.

Procrastination Psychology: The psychological reasons for Procrastination

Procrastination Psychology: What are the psychological reasons for Procrastination?

Procrastination can sometimes occur unconsciously, and you may not even realize it or why.

Procrastination can occur due to lack of hope, fear, stress, etc. gaining a better understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing can help you get out of that situation at most times as you’d automatically want to avoid it next time around.

Procrastination psychology is when people often delay or put tasks off because they are afraid of failing at the tasks that need to be completed. The fear of failure often makes people procrastinate. This fear paralyzes people from doing anything in life. This is why there is a famous saying – Procrastination Kills Dreams.

If you’re wondering why you procrastinate, follow this link to find a list that will help you understand what the issue is and how it will help you decide on how to overcome these.

Neuropsychology of Procrastination

Neuropsychology of Procrastination

The frontal lobe of the brain is known to be involved in a number of processes that overlap with self-regulation. Problem-solving, planning, and self-control fall under the domain of executive functioning. Procrastination actually finds itself in our biology. It’s the result of a constant battle within our brain between both the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex.

A recent study shows that the journal of clinical and experimental neuropsychology is the first to investigate subcomponents of self-reported executive functions related to academic Procrastination. We give our brains the opportunity to feel what’s good now.

In fact, Procrastination is also known as the result of your battles between your present self and your future self.

Revenge bedtime procrastination

Revenge bedtime procrastination

Bedtime procrastination or also known as revenge bedtime procrastination is when a person stays up late in the evenings in order to have control over the night because they feel like they lack control during the day, so they delay their bedtime on purpose even though they are tired.

Are you, by chance, not able to go to bed early and to stay up late past your bedtime and want to be able to stop it or at least overcome it?

Procrastination is the aptness to avoid stressful or troublesome tasks that are often very important and trade them with less stressful and less important tasks, find out more by following this link which talks about revenge bedtime procrastination.

Consequences of Procrastination

Consequences of Procrastination

Procrastination can have physical, emotional, and practical costs. Students who procrastinate daily tend to get lower grades.

Staff or workers who procrastinate start producing low-quality work. And general procrastinators can face reduced well-being or immunity varying from insomnia and gastritis. Procrastination can also cause problems in professional and personal relationships.

Recent studies show that students who procrastinate often experience higher levels of frustration, stress, guilt, and anxiety, in some cases, leading to severe symptoms such as depression; studies show that effects of Procrastination can have a bigger impact on high school students compared to everyone else.

>What do Deadlines do to Lifetimes? – New Yorker article


We have now looked at the science, psychology, and neuropsychology behind procrastination. We discussed the consequences and also described a more recent trait in millennials called Revenge bedtime procrastination.

Now we have an understanding of why humans procrastinate, let’s take a look at the ways that can be used in overcoming procrastination.

Overcoming Procrastination:

Below are some tips, frameworks, and methods to help you in overcoming procrastination.

Avoid Procrastination by:

Optimizing your environment

The environment in which we work has a big impact on how productive we can actually be. We can make subtle changes to our environment to improve our work.

For example, studies show that we copy the behavior of most of our friends and family. This means that it’s essential to surround yourself with hard-working and inspiring people, not destructive people. This way, you can create an inspiring environment to increase your productivity.

There are other things you can do as well and I have explained all that in this article on how to optimize your environment.

Achieving a state of flow

The key to fighting Procrastination is a state of flow.

By being able to eliminate external factors and give your undivided attention to the work you have in hand, you will be able to get into a state of flow.

A flow state is a mental state where when you are doing a task, you get submerged in a feeling of energetic focus with involvement and enjoyment in the process.

And if you’re wondering how you can get into this state of flow. Are you struggling to start and keep going? Maybe with studies or homework? If you do, it’s a common problem that lingers within most of us, especially with the many distractions in this century like televisions and mobile phones.

Many of us have experienced flow — or being “in the zone” — but reliably getting into a flow state is difficult. In this video from FiveThirtyEight, discover the elements of flow and hear from a sports psychologist and performance coach who used mindfulness meditation to help Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant get in the zone.

Get to know more about the flow state and how to get achieve a flow state on a regular basis.

Zeigarnik Effect psychology

The Zeigarnik effect is a phenomenon under psychology where people have the tendency to remember interrupted or incomplete activities more than completed activities when asked to describe or recall.

Bluma Zeigarnik
Bluma Zeigarnik

Procrastinating is a common thing for most of us. We are all found guilty of Procrastination with various activities, and it often affects our sleep schedule, increases anxiety, and deteriorates a person’s well-being and mental health.

The Zeigarnik effect psychology is a method to overcome Procrastination illustrating the tendency to remember interrupted or incomplete work or events more easily than tasks that have been completed.

To understand the Zeigarnik effect and how it can help avoid Procrastination, follow this link.

Using visual cues

Visual cues are beneficial in many ways.

For example, they are helpful to remind you to start a behavior. In addition, visual cues have an addictive effect on motivation and so will help you be more productive. Visual cues can help trigger your habits and measure your progress.

Visual cues strategies you can look up to prompt you to take action are the paper clip strategy and the Seinfeld strategy. Visual cues refer to visual reminders that often encourage you to take action by triggering your habits and helping you improve and measure your progress.

Implementing the power of rewards

Behaviour is strongly driven by rewards. Rewarding behaviors get repeated and are how habits are built as well, whereas unrewarding behaviors die out. The big picture overall points out that procrastinators live a life largely deprived of leisure, pleasure, play, fun, recreation, and so on.

Long-term rewards are seen as unappealing for their brains and so need to be substituted for immediate rewards. The plan is to make a contract with yourself.

I still love this django unchained GIF - Find on GIFER

The best advice for a procrastinator is to reinforce the behavior you want repeated to get something done. It’s that simple. By merging effort and rewards, you can learn to associate activities or work in general with something desirable.

You are literally training yourself to exert high effort by rewarding yourself for your efforts.

Changing self talk

Do you at times find yourself coming up with excuses and justifications for doing things?

Well, an underappreciated contributor to Procrastination is the way we think and talk to ourselves. Our internal dialogue can hamper us from getting started or sticking with a project, or seeing it to completion. Our self-talk and ways of thinking can be transformed to overcome these blockages and spur activities.

Best Get Motivated GIFs | Gfycat

Procrastination can stem from an incapability to cope from a fear of being not able to cope with passive emotions or difficult emotions at the moment.

More anti-procrastination strategies 

Procrastination is a pattern of behavior. This means that you can’t break it overnight. Habits stop being habits when you avoid practicing them. Below is a list of strategies to help:

  • Self-forgiveness can aid you to feel more good about yourself and reduce Procrastination in the near future.
  • Commit to the task, Focus on doing, instead of avoiding. Set a time for yourself for how long you’re going to spend solving a certain subject.
  • When you complete a task on time, reward yourself with a treat and notice how fulfilling it feels to finish things
  • Instead of letting tasks build up, tackle them as soon as they arise
  • Minimize distractions

If overcoming procrastination completely is not something that you are comfortable with, then try to take baby steps. In that process, you can try to use procrastination itself in a productive way.

As you get more and more productive then you can push procrastination out of your life.

Productive Procrastination: How to leverage it to make maximum use of your time?

productive procrastination

Are you looking for an outlet to improve your Procrastination but haven’t had any luck and don’t know where to start, then productive procrastination is the way.

You can procrastinate through your tasks but at the same time be busy, so you’ll not get completely off track by breaking down the task force. This way, you can make more use of your time.

There are different types of Procrastination. If you want to look more into the different types of procrastinators and ways to procrastinate more productively, find out more by clicking the link here.


Video on Procrastination:

This is the best video out there on Procrastination.

In this hilarious and insightful talk, Tim Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes, and bouts of staring out the window — and encourages us to think harder about what we’re really procrastinating on before we run out of time.


Best Quote on Procrastination:

Here is one of the famous quotes on procrastination by Edward Young. This quote makes a pretty good case why everyone needs to at least try overcoming procrastination.

Edward Young, "Procrastination is the thief of time"
Edward Young, “Procrastination is the thief of time”

Edward Young, “Procrastination is the thief of time”

Edward Young was an English poet in the 18th century who was mostly recognized for one of his successful works, “night thoughts”, where he describes his musings on death over nine nights after his wife’s death.

However, he’s more well-known for the saying “procrastination is the thief of time” from said work which includes the famous pondering on Procrastination. Young ponders on the loss of his wife, friends, the status of life, and missed opportunities.

Stephen Colbert Reaction GIF by MOODMAN

Get better insight on the saying of “procrastination is the thief of time” and its hidden meaning by clicking the link here.


Closing:

Even after all these tips, if you find to hard in overcoming procrastination, then something that has worked for me and many other people is to understand that ‘We are going to die’, so just do what you have you been putting off now.

Brad Pitt sums it all in one scene in Fight Club, ‘Know that, someday you are going to die’.