What Can We Learn From Procrastination and How to Kick This Habit?
文/荟同学校 心理老师 李杏怡 By Huitong School Counsellor Ms. Lori Li
拖延症是我们常见的现象和困扰，无论对于大人还是小孩。拖延症主要描述的是这样的一种行为：明知道拖延会造成负面后果，还是自愿地拖延或推迟做某事的行为。它很常见，从拖延日常琐事到重要事务，如推迟打扫房间、提交工作报告或作业、睡眠、解决朋友之间的矛盾等等。拖延是因为我们缺乏时间管理的能力吗？不尽然。很多时间管理的方法或工具被我们熟知或容易获取，如番茄时钟、计划本、各种app等，但它们不一定能够帮助我们减少拖延。正如卡尔顿大学心理学教授Tim Pychyl所说的，拖延不是时间管理的问题，而是情绪调节的问题。美国执照治疗师Anastasia Locklin也曾说，拖延通常是应对不想要的情绪如焦虑、抑郁、自我怀疑、甚至恐惧的一种功能失调的方式。
Procrastination is a common phenomenon and trouble for both adults and children. Procrastination is primarily an action of voluntarily delaying or postponing doing something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so. It is a common human experience involving delays in everyday chores or putting off important tasks such as cleaning the house, submitting a job report or homework, sleeping, or resolving conflicts between friends. Is procrastination because of our lack of time management skills? Not totally. Many time management methods or tools are well known or easily accessible to us, such as Pomodoro clock, planners, various apps, etc., but they do not necessarily help us reduce procrastination. As Tim Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University puts it, procrastination is not a time management problem; it's an emotion regulation problem. American licensed therapist Anastasia Locklin has also said that procrastination is typically a dysfunctional way of coping with unwanted emotions and feelings of anxiety, depressive feelings, self-doubt, or even fear.
Today, we are going to talk about procrastination from the four main types of procrastinators, the emotions and reasons, and some solutions for you to think about and refer to.
The Performer who says, “I work well under pressure.”
They are often motivated to act under last-minute pressure. This behavior may result from perfectionism. They are usually self-demanding and hope their work to be perfect. Because of the pursuit of perfection, they delay action as they feel that they don't have enough preparation or knowledge. They worry about their abilities or the outcomes, which makes them to use procrastination as a coping strategy. If procrastination results in a less-than-ideal result, he/she can also attribute the result to lack of time rather than lack of ability, thereby releasing themselves from anxiety about their own incompetence. The solution to this situation is getting started. Don’t worry about how or when it will be done. Completion is greater than perfection.
The self-deprecator who says, “I am so lazy right now.”
Often, on the contrary, these people usually have accomplished a lot of things. However, because our society values those who do more, he/she feels that it is wrong to rest. They are extra hard on themselves. In addition, impostor syndrome - the belief that our success is due to luck, rather than our own talents and merits, can also prevent us from taking a rest. If this is the case, we need to be more compassionate with ourselves and recognize our values. Care for ourselves and allow us time to rest so that we do not procrastinate on rest and work.
The overbookers who say, “I am so busy.”
They usually have a busy schedule with various activities but procrastinate on the tasks he/she is supposed to do. Busyness comes up as an excuse for not doing the things that he/she should be handling, which is an indication of avoidance. They may have experienced setbacks, conflicts, or negative emotions about the things they need to deal with, so they avoid facing them again. In this case, what we need is a moment of self-reflection and asking ourselves: what am I really avoiding? How can I fix this problem?
The novelty seekers who say, “I just had the best idea!”
They usually have a lot of ideas or projects and then get bored easily. They have difficulty making consistent efforts in one direction. After tasting the best part at the beginning, they lose interest in the boring or laborious tasks behind and thus jump to another project. In this case, all we need is completion, which can be enhanced by our determination, method, and motivation. Write down new ideas but don’t pursue them until we finish what we are currently working on.
Additionally, there are some common strategies that we can implement to help fight procrastination. For example:
Setting up small goals, which can be as small as one push-up a day and something that we can’t say no to and can be accomplished without effort. It helps us accumulate progress continuously.
Ivy Lee method: write down only six of the most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. List them out in order of true importance. Tackle those things and only those things the next day, whenever you have the most energy.
Categorizing things by importance and urgency. Complete important and urgent matters immediately, plan to do important but not-so-urgent stuff, and authorize others to finish urgent but not-so-important things for us.
Find the cause for procrastination and the methods that suits you. Hope we can all finish the things that ought to be finished every day!
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