Why do people have this marked tendency to leave things for tomorrow? Understand try to understand what the phenomenon of procrastination looks likeThis tendency that we sometimes manifest on a daily basis and which can be summed up as “leaving everything for tomorrow”.
Procrastination: what is it? The definition in itself is simple, it consists of postponing what one has to do: put on the washing machine, study for the language exam, the tax return … But the simple fact of delaying something thing is not to procrastinate, the concept of procrastination implies in its own definition an absurd delay, it is not a question of procrastinating so that it makes sense in a certain context, it is to do it irrationally, sabotaging our interests.
The person who lives obsessed with getting a task done at the first opportunity can be just as dysfunctional as the one who leaves everything at the last minute, neither of them intelligently planning their time. Overcoming procrastination involves make smart use at the same time, Oriented towards achieving one’s own goals. It is in the choice of what to do now and what to leave later where the procrastination is, not in the procrastination itself.
But if we know procrastination takes us away from our goals, why do we do it?
Apparently, there are both genetic and environmental factors that explain procrastination.
On the one hand, it is a phenomenon common to all cultures and at all times in history. It is a trend that affects men a little more (54%) than in women (46%), it is observed more in young people and decreases with age.
According to the data provided by science, most of it is explained by genetics; however, the atmosphere also powerfully contributes to our compulsive carry-over our chores. So much so that modern life has turned procrastination into an epidemic that has personal and organizational consequences and is even felt in a country’s economy.
According to a survey, 95% of people admit procrastination and one in four people admit to doing it constantly. And it is that procrastination is a habit and, as such, tends to last. You might think it’s because of perfectionism, never obsessing over finishing things, that they’re perfect, but the truth is, the data indicates otherwise.
For a long time procrastination and perfectionism went hand in handThis error is because the perfectionists who postpone are the ones who tend to seek help with therapy (and from there the data has been obtained), but there are many other people who are perfectionists and don’t go to therapy and who don’t. get into the habit of procrastination. Specifically, a much more fundamental role is that of impulsiveness: to live impatiently in the present and want everything now.
The role of impulsivity
Self-control and delay in reward they have a lot to do with impulsiveness and that makes it very difficult for us to have a bad time in the name of future reward. Highly impulsive people tend to be disorganized, easily distracted, have trouble controlling their impulses, find it difficult to be persistent and work methodically. This difficulty of planning and easy distractibility make them perfect victims of procrastination.
Impulsive people they are trying to get rid of a task that causes them anxiety, They are distracted, they remove it from their consciousness. Apologies and self-deception are common. It makes a lot of sense, of course, as people generally try to avoid suffering. However, this only makes sense if we look at things in the short term, because in the long term it leads to even greater suffering. Avoiding going through the unpleasant routine medical check-up from the doctor can lead us to detect prostate cancer when it is already too late.
Sometimes the pressure of everything we have to do is so overwhelming that we indulge in tasks that distract us so as not to think about what bothers us so much. It often happens that we do something that deep down we know we shouldn’t be doing because there is something more important and more priority than taking care of. This means that we are not doing what we need because we are not enjoying this moment of relaxation either. our conscience constantly reminds us of our obligations.
However, impulsivity does not explain everything, procrastination is due to multiple causes.
The procrastination triad
Expectation, value and time are the pillars that underpin this type of self-sabotage.
Expectation refers to our confidence in achieving our goals and while procrastination is sometimes linked to overconfidence, the opposite is much more common. In other words, if what we are pursuing it seems to us that we cannot take it, we just surrender. Helplessness, the inability to see, causes us to stop struggling.
This leads us to a state of decomposition and frustration known as learned helplessness, in which we surrender to circumstances to believe that we are unable to change anything and stop fighting. This phenomenon is closely linked to depression.
Ultimately, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: believing that we cannot be abandoned. By stopping trying – we really become able and this confirms our beliefs about ourselves. It’s a vicious circle.
Value is related to how attractive we are to what we postpone. Usually the procrastination list is full of boring tasks like washing dishes, learning those endless constitution items, or doing Christmas shopping. As expected, the value of each thing depends on the appetites of each and some people tend to procrastinate some tasks more than others.
How? ‘Or’ What it’s easier to postpone something that we don’t like, that doesn’t motivate usAt least it has value for itself, a less likely task is for us to tackle it. The lack of pleasurable value causes other more pleasurable activities to distract us and therefore we are easily distracted and we escape into more stimulating things, postponing as much as possible the tasks that seem soporific to us.
The time factor
Time leads us to procrastinate because we choose immediate gratificationBecause we find it more tempting a reward that materializes immediately, however small, to strive for a long-term goal, even if it brings us greater benefit.
Impulsivity, which we’ve talked about before, is what’s behind it all, and some other traits related to impulsive temperament are low meticulousness, low self-control, and a propensity for distraction.
Acting without thinking, not being able to control your feelings… causes us to procrastinate. The time factor makes us see the goals and rewards of tomorrow in an abstract way, so much so that they remain a reality. Instead, everything that has to do with today is more concrete and it feels more real to us.
Procrastination is a deeply ingrained habit that can cause high doses of suffering, it leads us to distraction and takes us away from our goals. It is closely related to impulsivity and time management, it is influenced by the value of the reward we seek and by the beliefs we have about our own abilities.
Author’s Note: This article should have been published last month, but I procrastinated it. In the next article, I will talk about some useful clues to overcome this self-sabotage.
- Steel, P. (2010). The dilation equation: how to stop quitting things and start doing things. Canada: Random House Canada.