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The Psychology of Procrastination: Why We Delay and How to Overcome It”

Onume Ekwo Written by Onume Ekwo · 2 min read >

I fight myself a couple of times struggling to get work done at as when due. It can be challenging sometimes as I find myself trying to procrastinate on tasks I have set or need to carry out.

Procrastination is a common human behavior that many of us struggle with on a daily basis. It refers to the tendency to put off tasks or responsibilities until the last minute, despite knowing that this behavior may have negative consequences. A lot of us want to be or do better but we find it difficult to overcome this behavior.

Why do we procrastinate?
There are many factors that can contribute to procrastination, including anxiety, fear of failure, and a lack of motivation. For some people, procrastination may be a way to cope with feelings of overwhelm or stress, as putting off tasks can provide a temporary sense of relief.

In addition, certain personality traits may also make individuals more prone to procrastination. For example, individuals who are perfectionists may procrastinate in order to avoid making mistakes or not meeting their own high standards. Similarly, individuals who are prone to impulsivity may struggle with procrastination due to a lack of self-control.

How to overcome procrastination?

There are several strategies that can be effective in overcoming procrastination. Here are some tips that you can try:

Break tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.
One of the reasons why we procrastinate is because we feel overwhelmed by the size of the task at hand. Breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable steps can make them feel less daunting and easier to tackle. For example, if you are struggling to write a long report, try breaking it down into smaller sections and set a goal to complete one section each day.

Set deadlines and hold yourself accountable.
Setting deadlines for yourself can help to create a sense of urgency and motivation to complete tasks. Additionally, holding yourself accountable by sharing your goals with a friend or colleague can help to increase motivation and accountability. It is also okay to have an accountability partner in the person of a friend or anyone who you feel that you can talk things through with.

Identify and address underlying emotions.
As mentioned earlier, emotions such as anxiety and fear of failure can contribute to procrastination. Identifying and addressing these underlying emotions can help to reduce the urge to procrastinate. For example, if you are feeling anxious about a task, try practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation before starting the task.

Practice self-compassion.
Procrastination can be a self-defeating cycle, as the guilt and shame associated with procrastination can lead to even more procrastination. Practicing self-compassion and forgiveness can help to break this cycle and reduce negative feelings associated with procrastination.

Use positive self-talk.
Negative self-talk can be a major contributor to procrastination. Instead of telling yourself that you are lazy or incapable of completing a task, try using positive self-talk. For example, instead of saying “I can’t do this,” try saying “I am capable of completing this task, and I will take it one step at a time.”

In conclusion, procrastination is a common human behavior that can have negative consequences. However, by understanding the psychology behind procrastination and implementing effective strategies, such as breaking tasks into smaller steps, setting deadlines, addressing underlying emotions, practicing self-compassion, and using positive self-talk, it is possible to overcome procrastination and achieve greater success and productivity.

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