Picking Apart Procrastination for Happiness
Updated: Mar 17
I sooooo don’t wanna do this blog today can’t I do it tomorrow? Just kidding! I love doing these blogs, but I will be the first to admit that procrastination can strike at any time!
A 2007 study found that 94% of people admit to procrastinating. Another study found that procrastinating can lead to stress, anxiety, guilt, and even affect our health! One would think that this obvious set of actions and consequences would teach us to stop procrastinating…but it doesn't; we continue to do it time and time again, negatively affecting our happiness? Why do we do this to ourselves, you ask?
Research suggests that procrastinating is caused by a wide range of factors, from genetics to task aversion to emotional avoidance. It can be as simple as not wanting to do it or having layered reasoning. For example, one can procrastinate on scheduling a call with a client because they:
A: Understand that talking on the phone causes them anxiety.
B: Recognize that they will end up with more work on their plate.
C: Know that the client likes to drone on and waste their time.
D: All of the above!
So, what can we do to bust procrastinating and improve our happiness? An article from Tania Luna from Psychology Today recommends the following:
Initiate Self Study
By looking internally, we may be able to discover what is causing us to procrastinate. For example, we want to look into what feelings this specific task initiates, what steps we have to take to complete it and why those bother us, the consequences of avoiding it, and how we will feel when it does get accomplished.
Now, I am not telling you to beat yourself up about procrastinating, but rather to find out why it is happening in the first place. If you get stuck in a negative feedback loop, take a break. Not sure what I mean? Check out episode 475.
Give Yourself Some Grace
The second step to busting procrastination is giving yourself some grace. It may sound odd or counterproductive, but sometimes we really just have to show ourselves some compassion.
We need to recognize that we are not alone in procrastinating, acknowledge that it is a normal and reasonable fact of life, forgive ourselves for being behind, and see ourselves as wiser and stronger for taking this mental step.
Studies have shown that giving yourself some compassion will actually make you less likely to procrastinate on the same task in the future. And on occasion, it is healthy to let ourselves off the hook with non-essential tasks. So you didn't do the dishes one night, or you didn't make it to a work event; oh well! The world won't stop turning; it's okay to take a break.
Bust Procrastination with a Dopamine Hit
The last tip to bust procrastination is to dopamine hack. There are obviously some tasks in life that do not make us happy. I can't say that cleaning the bathrooms makes me want to jump for joy. But, we can make some tasks happier to complete through dopamine hacking. Here are four ideas you can try, and we will use cleaning the bathroom as an example.
1. Chunk It!
Break up the task into smaller chunks, and conquer them one at a time. For example, cleaning all the toilets at once. Next round, all the sinks. Next, all the showers. You get it.
2. Time It!
Set a timer for a specific amount of time, and try to get as much done as possible. It's like a race against the clock. When the timer goes off, take a break and do something else fun.
3. Milestone it!
Some of us respond well to deadlines. When you have an arduous task, give yourself a due date and put it on the calendar!
4. Reward It!
We can train ourselves not to despise a task if there is a reward at the end. Let's say you are cleaning all the bathrooms; you could reward yourself with a piece of chocolate, an episode of your favorite show, or a walk in the sunshine after completing it!
I know I will definitely try these tricks the next time I have a challenging task, and I hope you will too! In the comments, tell me which tasks you procrastinate the most often on.
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