6 Not-So-Obvious Ways Procrastination Can Impact Your Ability To Move Forward

6 Not-So-Obvious Ways Procrastination Can Impact Your Ability To Move Forward

When it comes to our productivity, procrastination will always be our greatest adversary.

Most of us live busy lives, with goals and dreams that we work tirelessly to achieve, but when the sneaky presence of procrastination starts to creep in, it can have a significant impact on our efficiency, which lead to delays, missed deadlines, and feeling of dread.

While it’s often not our intention to put off important tasks and focus our attention on trivial tasks, when we reach mental blockages like fear or imposter syndrome, we can’t help but to fall into the trap of low performance and lack of motivation brought on by procrastination.

But what’s the reason for this? Procrastination is a complex subject and comes in many different forms. It’s generally defined as an involuntary delay of an intended action, despite being aware of the negative consequences associated with said delay. Beyond the many ways that procrastination can present itself in our day-to-day lives, it’s important to note that there’s much more happening underneath the surface.

While some may reduce procrastination down to laziness or the lack of discipline, it can be viewed through several frameworks that apply to different people in different manners. For example, the temporal motivation theory suggests that individuals weigh the costs and benefits of different tasks and allocate their time accordingly. This mental dilemma known as “opportunity cost” is procrastination showing up in how individuals prioritize short-term rewards like socializing and entertainment over long-term goals like studying, exercising, or seemingly mundane tasks.

On the flip side, the self-regulation model highlights the role of emotion regulation in procrastination. According to this model, individuals may procrastinate as a means of avoiding negative emotions related to anxiety and boredom that are typically associated with an activity. However, this can ultimately have an increased negative effect, resulting in lackluster performance and outcomes.

With research identifying several factors that contribute to procrastination, including individual differences like impulsivity and perfectionism, environmental factors from distractions or lack of structure, and task characteristics like the complexity or unpleasantness of a task, we can all see ourselves each category depending on our mood or the capacity of tasks or project. However, when we find ourselves facing the consequences of our procrastination, it can lead to even greater impacts on our mental health and well-being.

The loop of procrastination can be a difficult web to get untangled from. When we procrastinate, we often feel guilt, shame, or even anxiety about the work neglected, which can bring about unwanted stress and negative self-talk. We can sometimes attach our productivity to our self-worth and associate our value with our output. When these loops occur in our minds, it further exacerbates a decrease in our productivity, as we may become distracted or demotivated.

Overall, it's important to identify the reasons behind our procrastination and find ways to overcome it to achieve our goals and lead a fulfilling life. If you find yourself in the loop of procrastination, it’s important to identify the cause so you can get to the solution. That’s why we’ve curated a list of procrastination triggers and how to correct them.

Trigger: You find yourself doing unimportant tasks like scrolling social media instead of the important ones you need to be working on.

Try This: Try creating distance from your distractions and the tasks at hand. If you find it hard to stay focused on top responsibilities, it may be time to install a social media blocker app on your phone and set it for the duration you’d like to complete your work in. You might even want to try putting your phone in a different area than where you work so that it’s less easy to grab in between assignments.

Trigger: You feel overwhelmed or stressed about the work you need to do, but you can't seem to make progress on it.

Try This: When it comes to the duties that stress us out the most, it’s essential that we understand that we can only do what’s in front of us first. We don’t get to the next tasks until we finish the first one, so put less on your plate by giving yourself smaller portions and working your way through. Before you know it, you would have tackled your biggest tasks, bit by bit.

Trigger: You feel guilty or ashamed about your lack of productivity or progress on important tasks.

Try This: It’s time to give yourself some grace. Self-compassion goes a long way when you know that procrastination is less about you as a person and more about the stimulus that’s causing you to put the tasks off. When you begin to feel that negative self-talk begin to creep in, pause, and allow yourself a moment to collect your thoughts, grab a snack, take a walk, or simply breathe before you reapproach what’s at hand. Beating yourself up about procrastinating will only create more procrastination, so forgive yourself and move forward.

Trigger: You are often working on tasks at the last minute, which can lead to low quality work or mistakes.

Try This: Before you start your next tasks, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to approach them in small chunks. Oftentimes, we work on things at the last minute because it feels too big and overwhelming to take on. But if we are reminded to pace ourselves and not try to take everything at once, we can give ourselves the time necessary to present our best work.

Trigger: You find yourself easily distracted and unable to focus for long periods of time.

Try This: Time blocks are going to be your best friend here. By breaking down a larger task into smaller, manageable blocks of time, you can make it less intimidating and easier to start. By setting a clear structure and working in short bursts, you can overcome procrastination and make steady progress toward completing the task.

Trigger: You have a lot of unfinished tasks or projects that you keep putting off.

Try This: Sometimes we put certain tasks off because we may not have the capacity to complete them, or they might simply not be in our realm of expertise. In this case, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. Delegating tasks and projects over people who are more skilled and have more time to complete them, can take them off our plate and allow us to execute our to-do lists in a timely and stress-free manner.

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Featured image by Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images




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