What is procrastination?
Some think, ”Why do I need to do it today when I can do it tomorrow?” and some think, “Do not leave today’s work for tomorrow.” Which group do you belong to? Are you a ”procrastinating” one’ or a ”right-now” one’?
According to the Google definition procrastination is “the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It is different from laziness, which is the unwillingness to act.”
We as a society tend to think that working on a deadline is challenging, while doing what we feel like is much easier. It’s enjoyable to engage in less urgent activities than doing what needs to be done.
How many times did you say “I will start it tomorrow”, or “I will start it on Monday”, or “I will start it this evening”. When the ”next day” comes, to most people who procrastinate, it shows up new ”next day” excuses. In this way, postponement becomes a habit and then, even a lifestyle. Procrastination is the space between intent and action.
Causes of procrastination
- One of the main reasons why people procrastinate is the wrong perception of time. We tend to believe that we have much more time than we actually do or that the task we need to accomplish will take us less time than it does in reality. All of the students at the Universities know the feeling when the essay they started to write 2 days before the deadline turns out to be more complicated than expected.
- Another big factor that contributes to procrastination is the perception that we need to wait for the motivation or inspiration to start. Personally, I do not believe in motivation itself. That moment rarely comes. There’s a determination that serves us to make a plan and stick to it despite feeling “unmotivated”.
- Present bias or time inconsistency. When making plans for the future, we divide into the Present Self and the Future Self. We are making plans to lose weight, learn a new language, and start saving money. Everything is for the sake of our better future. However, when standing in front of the choice of remembering 50 new words or scrolling Instagram for the next half an hour in the present moment, there is a huge probability we will choose the latter. We stop to think about our future because we like instant gratification.
Effects of procrastination
While procrastination provides relief and pleasure at first, it creates stress, anxiety and restlessness in the long term. Any postponed job inevitably creates a sense of guilt, and inadequacy.
Once the procrastination behavior has begun, it is much easier for it to become chronic. People quickly master producing justified reasons for procrastination.
Procrastination tends to have serious consequences only when it becomes chronic. These can include:
- anxiety, stress
- social exclusion
- consequences of delayed bills to pay
There may be many reasons under the procrastination tendency.
- If a job doesn’t make sense to us, we will find it hard to find enough motivation to start. If we do not like to do if we do, we may choose to postpone the job for later.
- Not knowing where and when to start, the inability to manage the time, the inability to imagine the time duration of the whole process in our mind, cause a delay. Not planning makes procrastination real.
- If our confidence in ourselves is insufficient, or if we think that others will judge us in a negative way, we tend to postpone instead of starting to work. We might think we postpone the possible failure.
- If we do not know exactly what is expected of us, and if the goals of the job are not clear. It may be more rational for us not to do anything instead of starting. In an environment where there is not enough communication and little feedback, people tend to postpone to that extent.
- If the knowledge and skills we have are not sufficient for the tasks that we undertake, we will postpone the work and leave the decisions that need to be taken if we do not have the necessary equipment and knowledge to do the work in question. It may make us feel better, even for a short time, to procrastinate that job rather than accepting our lack of knowledge and skills in a field.
- Procrastination is also closely related to instability. If we find it difficult to make decisions, we can convince ourselves that it is better to procrastinate. Difficulty in decision-making is another “why” of procrastinating.
Procrastination can be seen as the gap between knowing and doing. If we want to succeed in finishing the job, we have to show the discipline and the courage to start. Right-time perception, determination, and good planning skills are necessary for every job, small or large. Creating good habits and not leaving things for later might not seem too encouraging, but in a long run, we will be grateful to ourselves!
We have to deal with this problem and keep ourselves out of the way of procrastination. We should all strive to improve the ”instant gratification” culture instead of praising procrastinating.
And remember, we have no resources to replace the time we lost by procrastinating.
”Procrastination is missing the life.“
Cherry, K. (2022) What is procrastination?, Verywell Mind. Verywell Mind. (Accessed: October 19, 2022).
Clear, J. (2022) Procrastination: A scientific guide on how to stop procrastinating, James Clear. (Accessed: October 19, 2022).