6 Surprising Signs that Procrastination May Have A Bigger Effect on your Life Than You Thought
Procrastination is not laziness. From the surface, it appears as though there is a lack of interest or motivation to start a task that needs completing. Often procrastination is the result of an underlying disorder or mental illness, which left undiagnosed, can leave individuals feeling confused and at a loss as to why they find themselves paralysed when they need to be the most active. 20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators.
In our culture, it is a problem not taken overly seriously. Individuals who experience behaviours that delay action are often less than proactive when it comes to seeking treatment. But for those who undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, treatment can be life-changing.
- Experience difficulty concentrating
Many adults who are diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) very often describe symptoms relating to procrastination. Left unchecked, this can lead to problems at work and in relationships. When you are distracted by outside stimuli, or there are internal thoughts that will not allow you to focus, it can make it near impossible to even begin the task at hand. Regulating your attention can be a trained behaviour requiring time, patience and the ability to recognise when you are drifting from your purpose. Simple exercises like technology fasts, reducing multitasking or talking to a therapist are all ways to reset our attention. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/articles/200308/procrastination-ten-things-know)
- Being afraid of failure
Fear of failure is a powerful emotion and affects us all in varying degrees. We set ourselves certain expectations, and when we fail to meet these, it can negatively impact how we see ourselves. However, it is not always about the fear of failure that creates a wall barrier between ourselves and our potential. Sometimes it is the fear that if we cannot do the task to the imagined standard we set. People who experience procrastination as a result of perfectionism have an intense disdain for mediocrity without the certainty of what it takes actually to attain it. We must acknowledge that this perspective imbalance is relatively common in today’s society. Much of what we see on social media appears on the surface to be the result of spontaneous success and not years of early failures and undocumented drafts.
- Becoming bored easily
Another symptom of ADHD is feeling unstimulated and avoiding tasks that seem uninteresting or don’t capture our attention for long periods. Although many individuals who are undiagnosed with ADHD also experience an enthusiasm deficit when it comes to menial task, it is the ability to redirect your attention and take control of where and when it needs to be focussed. How you handle boredom in the workplace can be the difference between getting that promotion or being considered ‘unpassionate’ or careless about the work you’re doing.
- Invest more time in organising and prioritising tasks than actually completing them
It may seem contradictory, but being organised can also be procrastination in disguise. To-do lists are a great way to monitor your progress and stay on track – funnily, many of us have admitted to writing down tasks on our to-do list so that we can triumphantly cross it off. The ‘Zeigarnik effect’ describes how we remember things that need to be done more naturally than the things we have already done.
Creating lists and breaking down tasks into smaller tasks is a great idea. Still, when it comes to procrastination, this familiar task can sedate the feelings of guilt that can arise when we are not doing the jobs that require our attention more.
- Difficulty coping with change and transition
Procrastination is often described as a form of paralysis – frozen from action as your brain considers every possible outcome or potential failure. As anyone who procrastinates will tell you, starting something is often the hardest part.
By breaking down big, medium and small-sized tasks into smaller components that don’t seem so overwhelming you can get over the hurdle of starting things. Change in transition is another trigger that induces feelings of anxiety amongst procrastinators. Experiencing high productivity as you become more immersed and focussed on finishing your task can bring about feelings of dread as the realisation of starting something new arise. So it is just important to celebrate when we accomplish that which seemed colossal in the beginning, and always plan for our next step.
6. Comparing your attitude with others
We have all had that one work colleague who has done their job with a bad attitude. They expect things without having to work for it; they cut corners and negatively distract the team. Procrastination can lead us to justify our behaviours in new ways we wouldn’t usually find acceptable. We can look at an unproductive colleague and think our actions are not as bad as theirs, while completely disregarding personal values and work ethic. Staying true to the standards you set is key to avoiding negative behaviours and keeping you on a path you are proud to reflect on.
If you experience procrastination in your daily life and think it is holding you back from reaching your full potential, talking about your habits and thoughts is a great place to start.
At Onebright, we specialise in therapeutic solutions, tailored to your needs. By listening to your needs and implementing changes in thinking and behaviours, we can work together to achieve a more productive and fulfilling life. Stop procrastinating, get in touch!