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The Productive Procrastinator: How to Manage Procrastination and When Do You Actually Need It?

Let's imagine that you have a huge exam coming up. Whether it be for school, for work, for a driver's license, etc. You have 2 more days to study for the exam but you also have other responsibilities and it is creating a lot of stress. You decide to clean up your home instead and put studying off until the final deadline resulting in you cramming for the exam. This is what you call priority dilution, you put off one responsibility in exchange of doing another to feel a false sense of productivity. It correlates with a person having a fear of failure or perfectionism because they know they can do well at another task as opposed to the one that is most important at the time.

What is Procrastination?

The main definition of procrastination is postponing responsibilities that should be prioritized. We have all procrastinated. Whether it be a small or a big task. Sometimes we just need a break from reality and choose to do our task at another time. Although that may sound good on paper, procrastination can have negative effects on a person’s life.

Why do we Procrastinate?

We procrastinate due to many psychological and emotional reasons. Procrastination can affect us emotionally, especially if we are already in a state of sadness, anger, anxiety or stress. We tend to procrastinate when we are feeling overwhelmed by other tasks that need to be completed. Sometimes you may have a lack of motivation to complete your tasks, especially when days just seem to merge together and feel like an endless, repetitive loop. Or maybe you live in a small house with a lot of people, or in a room full of things that can distract you such as a television, a phone, or even posters. 

Procrastinating with art

The Pros of Procrastination

Procrastination allows people to rest and recover from all of their responsibilities. Stress can still happen by thinking of all the work you need to complete. But it gives people the opportunity to take a hard reset and step back to analyze their task at hand and find better ways to approach it in a way that would not cause stress. It allows for better decision-making.

Sometimes people work better under pressure. The mind starts flowing better when that task is the only focus. It is not the best way to handle a task, especially if you have many other tasks due around the same time. We as humans, all tend to work differently. Some people are able to concentrate better when a deadline is near. 

The Cons of Procrastination

As mentioned before, stress and anxiety can still take place when procrastinating. Some people experience it and some do not. The most obvious con is that you end up missing the deadline for an important task and it sets you back further from your goal.

The opposite of completing your best work while under pressure is completing assignments with poor quality because there was not enough time. If you are a college student or have a job that requires submitting assignments, then you have probably heard that "it is better that you submit the assignment half-complete then to not submit it at all".

Feelings of stress and disappointment due to procrastinating on your responsibilities can lead to lack of productivity in other aspects of your life. With a lack of productivity, it can cause lower self-esteem and associate yourself with being "lazy" "unproductive" or "useless".

How to Combat Procrastination

Distractions are one of the main reasons why we procrastinate. Nowadays, everyone has some sort of technology.

  • Working in a room with no distractions in the area, or if you don't have a place with no distractions, head to your closest library or park and put your phone on do-not-disturb to avoid seeing notifications.

  • Using calendars or notes are a good way to help organize your thoughts and the due dates of certain tasks. You can leave a day for productivity and getting all responsibilities done, and schedule another day for rest and relaxation so it balances out.

  • Be mindful of what may trigger you to procrastinate and take short breaks in between tasks. Set a timer for tasks and breaks so you don’t get lost in the break you’re taking.  Be sure to do something you actually enjoy during your break to reward yourself for the work you did.

  • Limit you to do lists so they don't feel so overwhelming. Add one of two things to your daily to do list instead. After you complete those tasks, you can add more if you have the time and energy to do so.

No one is ever useless. Most of the time, we just need a break. Life itself is something extremely challenging to push through especially with never-ending bills, new responsibilities every week and constant obstacles that life throws at us everyday.

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