Breaking Through Procrastination
Procrastination can occur when the assumptions and rules we have about ourselves and the world cause discomfort which makes the task ahead of us more difficult to finish. If the feeling of discomfort is very strong and we can’t tolerate it, we might use procrastination as a way of dodging frustration, anxiety, and all the negative feelings that can occur. At this point, we can come up with excuses that alleviate guilt for delaying the task. While this might work in the short term, procrastination activities can have consequences that lead to a cycle of further procrastination and guilt.
Depending on someone’s individual experience, it might be beneficial to consult with a psychologist in Melbourne for an assessment.
In order to overcome and turn procrastination into a more positive cycle, it is also important to increase the tolerance for discomfort an individual might experience. To increase distress tolerance, it’s important to be mindful and become a keen observer of our own experience. We can work to focus on sensations from inside and outside of the body, the sounds, the sights, emotions, and thoughts. This will help us to stop avoiding the discomfort and face it head-on. Being mindful helps bring new awareness to the discomfort we might be feeling and helps to break the patterns of avoidance.
As we face the perceived distress from doing a task, it’s important to observe our experience without trying to change what’s happening. We can just label it with “here is a thought”, “here is the feeling of boredom” etc. It’s important to remind ourselves that these are just feelings and experiences without putting too much of a label on them. When we experience discomfort this way, there will be less resistance, which can lead to further acceptance.
With every procrastinating excuse comes a grain of truth, but from that truth comes the unhelpful conclusion that makes us postpone the important task in the first place. It’s necessary that we challenge the assumptions that this is based on. Asking the following questions may help:
What is the evidence or reason that says it’s better for me to put off this task?
What is the evidence or reason that says it’s better to start this task right now?
Is it true that it will be better in the long run to delay this task?
Is it true that I can’t make a small start right now?
Is it true that the later time is a better time to do it?
What will happen if I don’t/do start the task now?
Learning the critical skill of list writing can be something that significantly helps with procrastination. Try writing a “To-Do” list with the larger tasks broken down into smaller steps. After this, work to prioritize the list. There are numerous ways to complete a task and it’s important that you find what helps you the most. You might want to even do the worst part first, so the next parts are easier in comparison. Other things that might help:
- Spend small amounts of time doing the task at first, even if it’s just five minutes.
- Find yourself a suitable and motivational place for the task.
- Plan rewards for when you finish.
- Visualize the task being completed.
- Using a timetable for an organization can be helpful.
Take time to reflect and revise the plan and see your progress. The progress might be slow at first and it might take time to find the right way to overcome procrastination, but every success is important, and each next time might be easier to finish the task. The psychologists at Richmond Psychologist will be able to help assess the functional impacts of procrastination and offer practical advice.