How To Avoid Procrastination and Laziness - Custom Scholars

How To Avoid Procrastination and Laziness

Do you have trouble finishing an assignment or do you run out of time to prepare for an exam or test or do you repeatedly leave things to the last minute? If this is you, then you are going through a procrastination problem.

Procrastination is very common and most of us procrastinate about doing homework, doing housework, making an awkward phone call, or even attending some classes while in college. Procrastination is a very frequent occurrence, especially when in college. In most cases, procrastination does not cause any harm but in some cases, it becomes a chronic habit causing significant issues.

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It is important to dig deep into the different causes of procrastination because all procrastination and not stem from the same source. The consequences of procrastination for students are wide-ranging. It can cause missed deadlines, rushed and poor-quality work, underachievement, and compromised goals. All of this can affect students’ relationships with their teachers and family members due to broken promises and unfulfilled expectations.

Are Procrastination and Laziness The Same?

No. Although procrastination and laziness are usually lumped together, they are quite different. Procrastination is an active choice. When you procrastinate, you choose to do something else instead of what you should be doing. In most cases, you are avoiding an unpleasant task and opting to do something that requires less mental energy. Laziness refers to the general attitude toward life and it suggests indifference and unwillingness to act or do something.

That is a key distinction that needs to be made because procrastinators are usually incredibly ambitious. They want to engage in meaningful work and achieve their goals but they have built a destructive habit of choosing to dedicate their time to smaller, less significant tasks.

Procrastinators fantasize about accomplishing more than they usually do. When they can’t accomplish that, they feel guilt and shame because they are not living up to their full potential.  Lazy people on the other hand are fairly satisfied with their life choices.  They are typically not workaholics as they prefer exerting less energy on a day-to-day basis. They do not need to be in motion all the time to feel content.

Lazy people don’t care about how to overcome procrastination and laziness while procrastinators are obsessed with it. The following are examples showing the difference between the two.

  • A lazy person watches TV because they do not want to do anything else while a procrastinator watches TV to take their mind off a huge presentation they have to do.
  • A lazy person can skip the gym because they are indifferent to their physical condition while a procrastinator skips the gym because they do not want to face the discomfort that comes with getting in shape.

What Is Procrastination And Why Do People Procrastinate?

Procrastination is the behavior when a person postpones necessary tasks. Procrastination can be productive for example when you need to prepare for an exam but instead, you are busy with laundry or other duties. Productive procrastination is not the worst-case scenario as you keep yourself busy with other tasks. In the case of unproductive procrastination, you spend hours surfing the internet, watching videos on YouTube, or watching movies on Netflix series.

What Causes Procrastination?

  • It can be caused by your genes in a case where the behavior runs in the family.
  • Psychological reasons.
  • People can postpone tasks if they are afraid of failure and they are not sure if they can complete them perfectly.
  • When the task is not urgent.
  • When you do not know how to start a task.

Although there are many reasons why students procrastinate, the good news is that there are many ways to overcome it effectively.

Is procrastination A Disease?

Procrastination is not a disease but it can be linked to depression or low self-esteem. It is a behavior mostly seen in people but it can also be seen in animals. In some cases, delaying or avoiding something can be natural as part of prioritization.

Identifying Your Procrastination Style And How To Avoid It

Are you feeling lazy? Are you procrastinating on staff that needs to be done?  We all do especially when what needs to be done is not interesting or exciting. Procrastination is not similar to being lazy. The crux of procrastination is an unresolved “approach-avoidance” conflict. A part of you knows that you need or want to do something while another part of you resists doing it and thus you are torn between two impulses.

Being uncertain makes it hard for you to make a clear commitment to action. Even when you start doing something, you do it at a very slow pace. Your positive energy remains dammed, damning you to yet another setback. Failure to tackle important tasks you want or need to do will creates a void or emptiness in your life. This emptiness will be filled up with disappointments, discouragement, and even despair.

Procrastination is driven by strong emotions and tenacious personality traits which makes it tough to change. Changing an embedded habit is hard and you will need to implement specific skills and strategies tailored to your personality style. This is because the right advice for one problem can be wrong for another. One change program does not fit all problems. The following are the 6 distinct styles of procrastination.

distinct styles of procrastination

  1. The perfectionist

A perfectionist often feels overwhelmed by unachievable goals by believing everything has to be perfect. The challenge is to find a middle ground for excellence, not perfection. If you are a perfectionist, you can use the following change program.

  • Instead of giving up because of goals that you cannot achieve, you can decide to set a goal for excellence. Instead of perfection, you can set a goal to strive for good enough. In most cases, good enough is good enough.
  • Change your “shoulds” to “coulds”. Most perfectionists adopt harsh and burdensome “should” that they can never achieve. Could is empowering as it carries the mature message that you have the right, capacity, and obligation to choose the task to do and when to do it. The good news is that when you start doing what you “could” do, you get more done than agonizing over your “shoulds”.
  1. The dreamer

The dreamer has lots of good intentions and gets annoyed frequently by boring or difficult tasks. For a dreamer, the challenge is to tolerate feelings of discomfort and stop making excuses. If you are a dreamer, the following strategies can help you overcome procrastination.

  • Ground your thinking by asking and answering questions that start with “who, what, where, why, and how”. Although dreamers have creative ideas, they avoid doing things that can make their dreams come true.
  • Limit your use of dreamy vague phrases like, “I wish, I’d like to, or I will try to”. When speaking, make it more definitive and you will start working more definitively. For example, you can say, “I’m starting my History homework right now and will complete it by 6 pm”. This gives you a specific time frame to aim for and this encourages you to keep working to complete the task before the stated time.
  1. The worrier

The worrier feels stressed by so much to do and lacks confidence in their own ability. They do not believe in themselves. In case you are in this category, the following tips can help you overcome procrastination.

  • Recognize that not making a decision is also a decision. If you are worried that you cannot make a decision on what to do and when to do it, you place yourself in the mercy of others. Is this what you want? Do you want other people to make decisions for you? If not, then it’s time to stand and build your confidence and your life the way you want it to be.
  • Realize that telling yourself “I can’t” leaves you hopeless. In this case you have no choice, no power, no options, and you are doomed. Instead of remaining in this powerless position, you can shift the focus away from what you can’t do and focus on what you can do. Then do it!
  1. The crisis-maker

The crisis maker believes that to be motivated to do a task, they need the stress and pressure that is inherent in last-minute action. Without this, pressure, they believe they cannot perform to their best pressure is needed to alleviate boredom. In case you are in this category of procrastination, the following tips can help you.

  • Motivate yourself to tackle a boring task instead of waiting until the last minute. Invent a game or create a contest to make the boring task interesting. You can use the “beat the clock” game to motivate you into doing the task as fast as possible.
  • Identify other motivators apart from the last-minute stress to get you moving. You can ask yourself questions like;
  • Will completing this task enhance my career prospects?
  • Will completing the task make me feel better about myself?
  • Will completing the task help develop my independence and maturity?
  1. The defier

Defiers think that the tasks they are postponing are unnecessary or even unfair. In most cases, they prefer doing something else instead of taking care of the tasks as they want to maintain control over the situation or retain a sense of individuality. Defiers make promises with poor follow-through and many excuses or reasoning for the failure of completing the task. The typical belief underlying Defier’s feelings of frustration and rebellious behavior is anger. Underlying this anger is the belief that “I shouldn’t have to do it”. The issue with life is that you probably have to do it. If you are a procrastinator in this category, the following tips can help you overcome procrastination.

  • Mean what you say and say what you mean. Avoid saying things you don’t mean just to make people happy. Don’t commit to doing anything if you don’t intend to do it. In case you commit and then change your mind later on, make sure you inform the person involved as soon as possible.
  • Strive to act not react. Acting is making a choice, not defiantly nor compliantly, but because you have taken your time, thought about it, and made a decision. Reacting is responding reflexively and often negatively to what others want.
  1. The pleaser

The pleaser tends to find it difficult to prioritize and say no to things. This results in too many demands being made on their time. They take too much and then procrastinate because they have too much on their plate. You can kick the habit in the following ways.

  • Do not hesitate to say no to others when you do not have the time and energy to take care of tasks being thrown at you. When pleasers reflexively say yes to what others want, they have no time to take care of their own responsibilities.
  • Say goodbye to the superman/superwoman myth. We all know that you can’t do it all. Thus you should make day-to-day choices about the best use of your time and energy. In case you realize that you are neglecting an important aspect of your life, readjust your priorities to accommodate them.

How To Overcome Procrastination

Just like habits, we can overcome procrastination. The following steps can help deal with and overcome procrastination.

  1. Recognize that you are procrastinating

In some cases, you will have to put off a task to re-prioritize your workload. In case you are delaying a task briefly for a genuine reason, this will not be termed as procrastination. However, if you start putting things off indefinitely or switch focus to avoid doing something important, this is procrastination. The following are other examples of procrastination:

  • Occupying your day with tasks that should be given the lowest priority.
  • Leave out an important item on your to-do list for a long time.
  • Reading emails several times without deciding on what to do with them.
  • Beginning a high-priority task and then going off to make coffee before you are done with the task.
  • Concentrating on unimportant tasks that people are asking you to do instead of concentrating on important tasks on your list.
  • Waiting for the “right time” or waiting to be on the “right mood” to tackle a task.
  1. Work out why you are procrastinating

To solve something, you need to understand why it is happening in the first place. In this case, you must first understand why you are procrastinating. For example, if you are avoiding a task because you find it boring or unpleasant, you can take steps to complete it quickly so you can focus on other enjoyable but important aspects.

Poor organization can lead to procrastination. Organized people overcome procrastination successfully by prioritizing their to-do lists and creating effective schedules. These tools help you to organize your tasks according to priority and deadline.

Sometimes even when you are organized, you may feel overwhelmed by a task may be because you have doubts about your ability and are worried about failing. In this case, you might end up putting the task off and seeking comfort by doing work that you know you can complete with less stress.

Some people fear success as much as they fear failure. Some think that success might lead to them being swamped with requests to take on more tasks.

Surprisingly, most perfectionists are often procrastinators who would rather avoid doing a task that they feel they do not have enough skills that do it imperfectly. They only take up tasks that they know they can handle and have all the skills and experience necessary.

Poor decision-making is also another major cause of procrastination. If you cannot decide on what to do, you will likely put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing.

  • B: For some people, procrastination is more than a bad habit as it can be a sign of a serious underlying health issue such as ADHD, OCD, anxiety, or depression. Researchers also suggest that procrastination can be caused by serious stress and illness. Thus, if you are suffering from chronic or debilitating procrastination, it can be a result of one of these conditions and you should seek help from a trained professional.
  1. Adopt ant-procrastination strategies

Procrastination is a habit. A habit is a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that it cannot be broken overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you stop practicing them. If you want to stop procrastinating, you can try as many of the strategies below as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.

  • Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past. Research has shown that self-forgiveness can help you feel more positive about yourself and reduce the chances of procrastination habit repeating in the future.
  • Commit to the task. Focus on doing or not doing depending on the decision you make. List down all the tasks you need to complete and specify the time for doing them. You can decide to create a daily to-do list. This will help you tackle your work proactively.
  • Reward yourself. If you complete a difficult task on time, you decide to reward yourself with a treat such as a slice of cake, ice cream, or coffee from your favorite coffee shop. The treats should help you understand how good it feels when you finish things.
  • Ask someone to check on your regularly. Peer pressure works and it can work in this case to bring a positive outcome. This is the principle behind self-help groups. In case you do not have someone you can request to check on you, you can use an online tool such as Procraster which can help you to self-monitor.
  • Act as you go. Take care of tasks as soon as they arise instead of letting them build up over another day. This will make sure all tasks are taken care of as soon as they arise preventing the last-minute rush.
  • Rephrase your internal dialog. The phrase “need to” and “have to” imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage. However, saying “I choose to” shows that you own a project, and it can make you feel more in control of your workload.
  • Minimize distractions. You can turn off your email and social media and avoid sitting anywhere near a television while you work or study.
  • Aim to “eat an elephant beetle” first thing every day. Get those tasks that you find least pleasant out of the way early. This will give you the rest of the day to concentrate on work that you find more enjoyable.

An alternative approach is to embrace “the art of delay”. According to research, “active procrastination” which is deliberately delaying getting started on something to focus on other urgent tasks, can make you feel more challenged and motivated to get things done. This can work well especially if you are a person who works well under pressure.

If you decide to actively procrastinate, make sure you do not put your co-workers under any unnecessary, unpleasant, or unwanted pressure.

  1. Have a plan and be organized

In case you are procrastinating because you find a task unpleasant or boring, try to focus on the “long game” According to research, impulsive people are more likely to procrastinate because they are focused on short-term gain. You can combat this by identifying the long-term benefits of completing the task.

You can also make tasks more enjoyable by identifying the unpleasant consequences of avoiding them. For example, you can find out what would happen if you don’t complete the work. Will this affect your personal, team, or organizational goals? You can also reframe the task by looking at its meaning and relevance. This will increase its value to you and encourage you to work harder. If you are procrastinating because you are disorganized, the following strategies will help you get organized.

  • Keep a to-do list. A to-do list will prevent you from “conveniently” forgetting about those unpleasant or overwhelming tasks that are important.
  • Prioritize your to-do list. Prioritizing your to-do list will enable you to quickly identify the activities that you should focus on as well as the ones you can ignore.
  • Become a master of scheduling and project planning. If you have a big project or multiple projects on the go and you don’t know where to start, you can use online tools to help you plan your time effectively, and reduce your stress levels.
  • Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times. Identify when you work better. Do you work better in the morning or in the afternoon? After identifying this, use the time you are more effective to do the tasks that you find more difficult.
  • Set yourself time-bound goals. You should set specific deadlines to complete tasks to keep yourself on track to achieve your goals. This means that you will leave no room for procrastination.
  • Use task and time-management apps. There are many online apps that can help organize all your tasks. Those apps include Trello and Toggl.

If you are the kind of person who fails to take care of certain tasks because you find them overwhelming, you can manage this by breaking the tasks down into smaller chunks. Once you have broken them down into smaller chunks, you can now concentrate on starting them instead of concentrating on finishing them.

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