Procrastination often makes us feel uncomfortable – so why do we do it? Brisbane Psychologist Katherine Vuong has some suggestions on how to stop procrastinating and get things done!
When we put off doing an important task, or anything we feel we ‘should’ be doing, we may experience guilt or shame. So, in order for us to feel better about our decision, we often excuse our procrastination by giving ourselves a ‘good reason’ for doing it. For example, you might tell yourself:
- I’m too tired
- It’s too late to start now
- I’ll do it when I’m in the mood
- I still have a lot of time, I’ll do it another day
The problem is that there is often some truth to these excuses. It’s probably true that you have a lot of time, or that you’re not in the mood, or feeling too tired etc…
But by making these excuses, we conclude that it’s okay to delay the task even when we don’t really have a valid reason.
Why are we Procrastinating?!
In addition to the excuses we give ourselves, there are also many underlying reasons for procrastination, such as difficulty tolerating boredom, avoiding the possibility of failure or uncertainty (especially common if you are a perfectionist), and low self-confidence. Whilst it can be helpful to understand where your procrastination comes from, it’s often not necessary for you to overcome it.
Here are some practical steps to help you stop procrastinating:
- Prioritising – By writing down everything that needs to be done, you will be able to decide how realistic it is to achieve these tasks/goals in the time available. Then you can decide where to start based on urgency and importance, rather than what ‘mood’ you’re in.
- Grading – Large tasks can seem very overwhelming, so breaking it up into smaller steps or chunks may motivate you to get it done.
- Making your life easier – It’s not always easy getting to the gym on a cold morning, so find ways to make it more likely for you to do it. You could set the heater on so that it’s nice and warm when you wake up, and have your bags packed the night before. You could even go to bed in the same outfit you’re happy to be seen working out in.
- Being thoroughly prepared – You need to know what is required for the task. If your reason for procrastinating is because you’re unsure of what to do, ask yourself how you will find out. A comfortable and clutter-free workspace can also help.
Some people will find certain suggestions more or less helpful. Try a range of strategies and see what works for you. If you feel that procrastination is becoming problematic for you, consider booking an appointment.
Author: Katherine Vuong, B Beh Sc (Hons), MAPS.
Please Note: Katherine Vuong is not currently practising at Vision Psychology, however if you call us on (07) 3088 5422 we would be happy to suggest another therapist at our practice with experience in this area.
- Tracy, B (2017). Eat That Frog! 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time (3rd ed.). Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.