How many times do you find yourself saying or thinking “oh, this task will be done tomorrow!”? Then tomorrow comes and you have exactly the same talk and you continue in that mood for several days. By the time you realize it, a week or two has passed since the first day you decided to postpone the task or committed to doing it! I’m sure there were days when you woke up and said “It’s today! I’ll do it today!” and in between it seems like your day has been occupied by other tasks leaving, once again, that daunting task aside. Well, it seems that Britney is not the only one who can make use of the expression “Oops, I did it again!”. And who says task, says that complex decision making or that difficult conversation you have to have with a friend and you already know it might generate conflict. In fact, we can procrastinate about many things!
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today!
But is it really that simple? How much pressure does this expression bring to our daily lives? When today is full of tasks that cross the professional and personal sphere, it can be really difficult not to leave some things for the next day. In a busy schedule, it is natural to create the conditions for the emergence of some anxiety, frustration and even feelings of guilt for not being able to accomplish everything we set out to do or need to do. It is therefore important to manage our time well and set priorities in order to recognize and accept what we are actually available to do, thus reducing feelings of guilt and inability.
And when I put off until tomorrow what I can do today?
Often, even if today is not overflowing with priority tasks, many of us find a way to give them that value, that importance, with the deliberate aim of postponing the tasks that bother us so much. By looking at things from this perspective we may be putting ourselves in the mindset of a procrastinator.
Procrastination, the art of postponing
Procrastination is perceived as the voluntary delay of tasks and/or decisions that are intended to be carried out and are necessary and/or personally important, despite recognizing the negative consequences of this avoidance that outweigh the positive consequences. It is considered a complex behavior because it involves cognitive, emotional and behavioral components that promote temporary comfort when the aversive task is avoided. It is therefore normal that when we procrastinate we feel relieved in the short term. However, several studies tell us that procrastination harms our well-being.
Procrastinating, how much am I willing to pay?
The emotional roots of procrastination include fears, doubts, pressures, memories, etc. However, most people who procrastinate do not identify these aspects as they avoid the tasks that cause some kind of discomfort. Although it is difficult to deal with the negative consequences of procrastination, it is always easier to deal with self-criticism rather than accepting and facing our vulnerability. Therefore, many researchers see procrastination as a failed self-regulation strategy. We can also think of procrastination as a continuum. At one pole we have those who procrastinate and cope well with it, not finding themselves in pain, and at the other pole we find those whose procrastination brings them serious problems. The consequences can be internal, manifested by irritation, frustration, self-criticism, despair, regret and external, such as penalization at work, conflicts in interpersonal relationships, etc.
If you find yourself in the pole whose negative consequences are difficult to manage, it is important to reflect on the possible causes of your procrastination and, if you find this path difficult to accomplish alone, seek help!
So I leave you with this question again but now addressed to you: how much are you willing to pay for continuing to procrastinate?