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6 reasons for procrastination
6 reasons for procrastination
Have you ever wondered why we constantly postpone important work? Choosing between challenging tasks and instant mood-boosting rewards, we most often choose the latter. But such behavior will not bring great success. In this article we will talk about what makes us procrastinate and how to make boring, unstructured and complex tasks doable and interesting.
Let's identify the 6 main characteristics of a task that can make us idle:
- frustrating (efforts seem fruitless),
- ambiguous (you don't know how to do it),
- devoid of personal meaning and does not contain intermediate incentives.
The problem is that we usually don't try to figure out why we dislike the task. We just strive to get rid of negative emotions and postpone work until better times. There are numerous tactics to help fight procrastination. Let's look at some of them:
1. Determine the characteristics of the task
Unpleasant tasks usually combine different features: they can be partly boring, partly complex, frustrating, meaningless, ambiguous, unstructured. By determining exactly what characteristics the task has, you can mitigate their impact and make the task more attractive.
You can evaluate the task and understand, for example, that it is boring and it seems to you that your efforts in working on it are fruitless. Then you can make a game out of it. For example, you can ask yourself: how much progress can I make by working on a task for 20 minutes without stopping? The element of challenge, competition can unexpectedly make the work more interesting.
2. Figure out how the brain reacts to cognitive dissonance
When you notice that you have to do something, but you don't, we respond to this situation in one of the following unproductive ways:
- We get distracted and think about other things.
- We forget what we have to do, intentionally or unconsciously.
- We downplay the importance of what we have to do.
- We deny responsibility in order to distance ourselves from what we are doing.
So that the next time you catch yourself thinking that you are reacting to a difficult job with one of these images, switch to a more productive state. List all the things you say or do to justify your procrastination, and when you notice that you resort to them again, use them as a trigger, as a reminder that this time you need to do something different than you used to.
3. Reduce the time you spend on a task
When we reduce the amount of time allocated to some work, it immediately makes it more interesting, structured and less frustrating. By devoting less time to a task than usual, you invest more energy in it, and this increases productivity.
4. Just get started
As a rule, people overestimate how much motivation they need to take on a task. One of the main recommendations is to just get started.
When you are once again visited by a thought like "I'd rather do it tomorrow" or "Yes, there is still plenty of time", let it become a sign for you that you are going to postpone work for no particular reason. Instead of following this urge, on the contrary, turn it into an excuse to start working right now.
5. Make a list of the costs of procrastination
The costs of procrastination can be huge. When we put off working on achieving our goals, we are actually putting off life itself. Since procrastination is largely an emotional reaction to our responsibilities, a useful solution would be to activate the rational part of the brain in the fight against it. One way to do this is to determine what we lose by procrastinating. Think about how procrastination affects your happiness, health, financial situation, relationships.
6. Come up with a plan of targeted actions
How to cope with ambiguous and unstructured tasks? Think over a plan to work on them. Make the task more specific by deciding when, where and how you are ready to complete it. Shift the focus from a big goal to small, concrete steps.
By analyzing the main causes and tactics that help fight procrastination, you will be able to make boring, unstructured and complex tasks doable and interesting.