Amity Institute Of Training & Development

Why do we procrastinate?

Have you ever picked down to finish a significant assignment — and afterward unexpectedly found you were transferring your documents on various online drives of work or fascinated by the YouTube post about what is going on in the existence of your #1 celebrity? Or on the other hand maybe you unexpectedly understand that the pet should be taken care of, messages should be replied, your roof fan needs cleaning — or perhaps you should feel free to have a brisk snooze, despite the fact that it is just 11:30 a.m.? Before you know it, it is the day's end, and your significant undertaking stays incomplete.

For some individuals, procrastination is a solid and strange power that holds them back from finishing the most earnest and significant work in their lives with a similar strength as when you attempt to bring like polls of a magnet together. Now and again, everyone leaves an important work waiting on their plan for the day for a couple of hours — or days, or weeks — or even excessively long. Procrastination is a typical, near all-inclusive wonder — which makes it even more essential to comprehend why it strikes and what to do about it.

“Procrastination is not just avoiding or delaying a task,” says David Ballard, head of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “It also has to include an aspect that’s counterproductive, irrational or unnecessary.” Those triggers typically fall into one of four camps: expectancy, value, time or impulsivity, says Alexander Rozental, a procrastination researcher and a clinical psychologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. In other words, “People procrastinate because of a lack of value [associated with the task]; because they expect that they’re not going to achieve the value they’re trying to achieve; because the value is too far from you in terms of time; or because you’re very impulsive as a person,” Rozental says.

Etymologically, “procrastination” is derived from the Latin verb procrastinare — to put off until tomorrow. But it is more than just voluntarily delaying. Procrastination is also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia — doing something against our better judgment. "It's self-hurt," said Dr. Wharfs Steel, an educator of persuasive brain research at the University of Calgary and the creator of "The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done." That mindfulness is a vital piece of why dawdling causes us to feel so bad. At the point when we delay, we are not just mindful that we are maintaining a strategic distance from the errand being referred to, yet in addition that doing so is most likely an ill-conceived notion. But we do it in any case.

“This is why we say that procrastination is essentially irrational,” said Dr. Fuschia Sirois, Professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield. “It doesn’t make sense to do something you know is going to have negative consequences.” She added: “People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task.”

Procrastination is not a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond. “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” said Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa. “What I’ve found is that while everybody may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator,” says APS Fellow Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University. He is a pioneer of modern research on the subject, and his work has found that as many as 20 percent of people may be chronic procrastinators.

“It really has nothing to do with time-management,” he says. “As I tell people, to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.” In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as “the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.” Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.

Indeed, there is a whole assortment of research devoted to the ruminative, self-accusing musings a large number of us will in general have in the wake of hesitation, which are known as "procrastinatory cognitions." The contemplations we have about procrastination normally compound our trouble and stress, which add to additional procrastination, Dr. Sirois said. Be that as it may, the flashing help we feel when dawdling is really what makes the cycle particularly horrible. In the quick present, putting off an assignment gives alleviation - “you’ve been rewarded for procrastinating,” Dr. Sirois said. And we know from basic behaviourism that when we are rewarded for something, we tend to do it again. This is precisely why procrastination tends not to be a one-off behaviour, but a cycle, one that easily becomes a chronic habit.

Over the long haul, chronic procrastination has profitability costs, yet quantifiably damaging impacts on our psychological and actual wellbeing, including persistent pressure, general mental misery, and low life satisfaction, depression, anxiety and uneasiness, chronic weakness practices, constant sickness and even hypertension and cardiovascular disease. In the event that it appears to be unexpected that we procrastinate to stay away from negative emotions, yet wind up inclination far more terrible, that is because it is. What is more, indeed, we have evolution to thank. True procrastination is a complicated failure of self-regulation: experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we will suffer as a result. A poor concept of time may exacerbate the problem, but an inability to manage emotions seems to be its very foundation.

A major misperception about procrastination is that it is a harmless habit at worst, and maybe even a helpful one at best. Supporters of procrastination often say it does not matter when a task gets done, so long as it is eventually finished. Some even believe they work best under pressure. Stanford philosopher John Perry, author of the book The Art of Procrastination, has argued that people can dawdle to their advantage by restructuring their to-do lists so that they are always accomplishing something of value. Psychological scientists have a serious problem with this view. They argue that it conflates beneficial, proactive behaviours like pondering (which attempts to solve a problem) or prioritizing (which organizes a series of problems) with the detrimental, self-defeating habit of genuine procrastination. If progress on a task can take many forms, procrastination is the absence of progress.

There is no single type of procrastinator, but several general impressions have emerged over years of research. Chronic procrastinators have perpetual problems finishing tasks, while situational one’s delay based on the task itself. A perfect storm of procrastination occurs when an unpleasant task meets a person who is high in impulsivity and low in self-discipline. (The behaviour is strongly linked with the Big Five personality trait of conscientiousness.) Most delayers betray a tendency for self-defeat, but they can arrive at this point from either a negative state (fear of failure, for instance, or perfectionism) or a positive one (the joy of temptation). All told, these qualities have led researchers to call procrastination the “quintessential” breakdown of self-control.

“I think the basic notion of procrastination as self-regulation failure is pretty clear,” says Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University, in Canada. “You know what you ought to do and you’re not able to bring yourself to do it. It’s that gap between intention and action.”

Social scientists debate whether the existence of this gap can be better explained by the inability to manage time or the inability to regulate moods and emotions. Generally speaking, economists tend to favor the former theory. Many espouse a formula for procrastination put forth in a paper published by the business scholar Piers Steel, a professor at the University of Calgary, in a 2007 issue of Psychological Bulletin. The idea is that procrastinators calculate the fluctuating utility of certain activities: pleasurable ones have more value early on, and tough tasks become more important as a deadline approach.

A subsequent study, led by Tice, reinforced the dominant role played by mood in procrastination. In a 2001 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Tice and colleagues reported that students did not procrastinate before an intelligence test when primed to believe their mood was fixed. In contrast, when they thought their mood could change (and particularly when they were in a bad mood), they delayed practice until about the final minute. The findings suggested that self-control only succumbs to temptation when present emotions can be improved as a result. “Emotional regulation, to me, is the real story around procrastination, because to the extent that I can deal with my emotions, I can stay on task,” says Pychyl. “When you say task-aversiveness, that’s another word for lack of enjoyment. Those are feeling states — those aren’t states of which [task] has more utility.”

In general, people learn from their mistakes and reassess their approach to certain problems. For chronic procrastinators, that feedback loop seems continually out of service. The damage suffered as a result of delay does not teach them to start earlier the next time around. An explanation for this behavioural paradox seems to lie in the emotional component of procrastination. Ironically, the very quest to relieve stress in the moment might prevent procrastinators from figuring out how to relieve it in the long run.

“I think the mood regulation piece is a huge part of procrastination,” says Fuschia Sirois of Bishop’s University, in Canada. “If you’re focused just on trying to get yourself to feel good now, there’s a lot you can miss out on in terms of learning how to correct behaviour and avoiding similar problems in the future.” “The future self becomes the beast of burden for procrastination,” says Sirois. “We’re trying to regulate our current mood and thinking our future self will be in a better state. They will be better able to handle feelings of insecurity or frustration with the task. That somehow, we will develop these miraculous coping skills to deal with these emotions that we just cannot deal.

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By: Vaani Gandha


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