Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Procrastination – What Is Procrastination?

It’s human nature to put off non-urgent chores until tomorrow. I can do the dishes in the morning. I’ll get to those bills later (and preferably before they become overdue, at which time they will become urgent). I’ll finish that blog post tomorrow. If a trivial task can wait, then why shouldn’t it?

Procrastination, however, according to the psychological field, is the act of putting off more important tasks in favour of less important ones. Doesn’t really make sense, does it? Of course, you and I don’t do that. No way.

But, wait a minute, when was the last time you flipped on the television or took a long “surfing” trip to your favourite bookmarks, when you knew some pressing deadline was looming? Or maybe you cleaned the house instead of doing something you should. I know, I know, you needed to relax before you tackled that heavy task. By cleaning? Sounds a little like the P-word.

According to the experts, to qualify as procrastination, your behaviour has to be: needless, delaying and counterproductive. Sound familiar?

The reasons why people procrastinate can be stress or anxiety related yet the act of procrastinating can result in more stress, guilt, and decline in personal/ social esteem. Oddly enough, procrastination has also been linked with perfectionism. We delay starting or finishing a task because we feel that it will fail to meet our own or someone else’s exacting standards (which may not be as exacting as we believe in the first place). Hence the quotation, “The perfect is the enemy of the good”. And “the done”.

We’ve all been caught up in that cycle. We put off something we need to do, we feel bad, we put it off even longer because we feel bad and want to cheer ourselves up. Eventually, we may even become known as that person who can’t be counted on to meet goals and deadlines. You can become…The Procrastinator, with no attendant superhero powers apart from the ability to feel superhuman guilt.

Now, come on, I wrote this post (eventually). Get out there and write something!

Photo courtesy of graur razvan ionut at freedigitalphotos.net

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