There is a common phenomenon which, although easily recognizable, is difficult to explain. It’s the procrastination, A curious word which only refers to the ‘ habit of postponing without valid justification the activities or obligations that must be fulfilled.
One of the characteristics of this type of postponement, moreover, is the fact that we intend to accomplish the task sooner or later, because somehow we know that its completion is something we have to spend.
What is procrastination?
However, this is not just the typical behavior one might associate with a naughty or hedonistic person. In a survey of 1,347 adults of various nationalities, a quarter of them showed a strong tendency to postpone work, regardless of their gender or culture.
Another study notes that each employee spends approximately one hour and twenty minutes per day postponing their main task, With the resulting opportunity cost to the organization. Additionally, about 32% of college students may have serious procrastination issues, according to the Patterns of Academic Procrastination study. On the other hand, psychologist Piers Steel argues in his publication The Procrastination Equation that, where it is present, this tendency goes against its own well-being in the broad sense: it contributes to poorer health and to wages. lower.
In addition, it can lead to compulsive or very intense attitudes that serve to evade the main responsibility: eating a lot, playing video games, etc.
A problem without a simple solution
However, the feeling that procrastination can become so problematic … Why do we continue to allow this to happen? In reality, it is difficult to justify postponing a necessary task, as long as it is recognized as such. We experience the strange notion of having entered the constant cycle of “better tomorrow”, justify this decision once it has already been taken by a body higher than our conscience.
In this way, a deeply irrational and automatic mechanism is rationalized by lining it with a covering of words and justifications to the letter. What is the key that triggers this automatic mechanism of eternal delays? the same Steel pillars he could have found her.
According to his research, there is a clear relationship between the tendency to delay tasks and impulsivity. In these studies, the presence or absence of the ability to self-regulationIn other words, the ability to control oneself in favor of future rewards accounted for 70% of cases of procrastination.
There was evidence of a direct relationship between levels of impulsivity and a tendency to postpone tasks. In more recent research, Steel has found some foundation that supports the hypothesis that between impulsivity and this annoying tendency has the same genetic basis. If impulsivity implies difficulty in avoiding inappropriate behavior, procrastination means difficulty in triggering inappropriate behavior: they are practically part of the phenomenon itself; a mistake of following the behavioral system that leads to long term goals.
What should be done to fix this problem?
Based on this explanation of the mechanics of task deferral, we can apply the same types of corrective procedures that we use with impulsivity cases. In that case, the solution is to create work strategies that transform fuzzy, general and distant goals over time into small, very specific goals which must be completed immediately.
In short, we have to break goals that are limited and with little ability to draw us in the face of other distracting stimuli, into very specific activities that urgently demand our attention and which take us, one by one, to here to now to the achievement of the ultimate goal.
1. Small commitments
For example, in the event that you need to write a 20-page essay, a good way to do it is to commit to writing a page before seven in the afternoon. If we see that it is difficult for us to fulfill these small commitments, we will make them even smaller and more concrete, so that we regard their resolution as something perfectly possible, for example, we can write 15 lines before two hours have passed. It is about approaching in time, and at the same time making less uncomfortable, the pressure that we would be under more and more with each day if we did not get to work.
2. Avoid distracting objects
Another good tactic that can be combined with the first self-imposed difficulties in accessing distractions: Turn off the TV playing in the background, register your smartphone, etc. We can first of all weigh what are the elements that can take us away from the goal and do something to prevent us from being too tempted. In a reasonable and moderate way, this also applies to the people around us.
In short, you have to try let reason take the reins of our short-term preferences tracing a very clear roadmap. Create some kind of cognitive rails that will help us achieve what we set out to do.