How to Stop Procrastinating

We all procrastinate. The degree and frequency in which this happens however varies greatly. Maybe you procrastination that on that deadline, work, or even your health. Procrastination from a psychology perspective is more than just the delay or avoidance in doing a task, it is the intentional delay of doing a task although it may cause psychological distress later on.

So why do we procrastinate?

Lack of will-power or laziness? Not exactly, research says we procrastinate because we are delaying perceived negative emotions that come along with doing the task at hand. The task may be viewed as difficult, frustrating or that it will lead to unpleasant feelings such as stress or anxiety. Dr. Sirois, PhD, has researched procrastination for 14 years and says at its core procrastination is short term mood regulation.

We sacrifice our future self for our current mood and in doing so, prioritize our current mood over the consequences of our inaction for our future self. Dr. Sirois goes on to say that self-compassion may be key to mitigating our procrastinating ways.

Procrastination is negatively associated with wellbeing, self-compassion, mindfulness and self-kindness. Since research indicates self-compassion can help us deal with procrastination we must therefore understand compassion. It is empathetic, kind, accepting behaviour that wants to alleviate suffering. Self-compassion is not trying to suppress or exaggerate emotions, but rather having kindness, understanding and awareness when confronted with hardship and self-judgement.

Research shows we find it more challenging to be compassionate towards ourselves, Maybe you can relate to this? 80 percent of people are significantly more compassionate to others than they are to themselves. Therefore it can be beneficial for us to understand how we can move into self-compassion for our health and wellbeing.

Dr. Neff, PhD, developed the self-compassion scale (SCS). It consists of six interrelated parts:

  • self-kindness versus self-judgement,

  • a sense of common humanity versus isolation, and

  • mindfulness versus over-identification.

Self-kindness can be viewed as being gentle, supportive, understanding, and accepting toward oneself rather than harshly judging oneself for shortcomings.

Common humanity can be viewed as recognizing the shared human experience, understanding that all humans fail, make mistakes and lead imperfect lives, rather than feeling isolated by ones imperfections.

Mindfulness can be viewed as being present in the moment and experiencing suffering with clarity and balance, rather than being immersed in one’s subjective emotional reactions (over-identification) where it becomes difficult to distance oneself from the situation and embrace a more objective perspective.

It’s not just procrastination that benefits from self-compassion. Researchers found self-compassion to be a key indicator of wellbeing and that it had strong positive associations with optimism, happiness, life satisfaction, body appreciation, motivation and happiness.

If you find yourself leaning into procrastination or having harsh self judgements take a step back notice your self-talk and see how you can move in the direction of self-kindness, a sense of common humanity and mindfulness.

It can be useful to remember that often the build-up and perceived stress or with doing the task is greater than doing it actually is. How did you feel last time you actually did that thing you didn’t want to do? Focus on making action steps convenient, favourable, and small. By identifying and removing barriers to completing your task you can find yourself on the other side of procrastination.

If you’re struggling with your food relationship don’t procrastinate any longer on prioritizing your health and wellbeing. Book a free consult call and let’s chat about what working together will look like!