The ultimate productivity killer of our age – procrastination! Never before were there so many distraction devices, trying to get your attention. Today we are exploring procrastination, the disadvantages & benefits of procrastinating and even how to beat procrastination for good!
Let’s imagine a real-life scenario. It’s Friday night and Rick needs to study for an exam, that will take place on Monday. He even told his friends he can’t go out with them so that he can focus on the work. He gets everything ready to get into a productive mood and decides to just quickly check Facebook before he starts. No new messages, cool but oh he forgot to wish his friend a happy birthday. Of course, he has to take care of that. Then he notices that another friend got a new puppy (like) and hey a new Netflix original just came out. Let’s check out the trailer. Turns out it’s really cool, so he decides to watch the first episode.
6 episodes and one pizza later, he realizes it’s 2 a.m. and that he should not only get to sleep but that his study notes are on his desk, still untouched.
That is what we call procrastination. Officially procrastination is defined as the lack or absence of self-regulated performance and the behavioral tendency to postpone what is necessary to reach a goal. Several studies show that students who procrastinate a lot receive lower grades and also report high-levels of stress. The same procrastinators were also found to be less stressed and more healthy when the deadlines were far off. This can mean that they use the procrastination as a coping strategy to make themselves feel better, at least temporarily.
Active and passive procrastination: What’s the difference?
However, it’s not all doom and gloom with procrastination. There are actually two different types of procrastination. Active procrastination and passive procrastination. Passive procrastinators are exactly like Rick. Somehow they just can’t seem to get themselves to do the work. This happens because of their inability to make a decision quickly and act on it. So, in Rick’s case it would be deciding to study and actually studying.
On the other hand, active procrastinators are capable of making this type of decisions. They postpone doing the task deliberately and focus on other important things. For example, Sussie as an active procrastinator would also not study on Friday night, but she would end up cleaning her room instead.
The level of stress these two groups of people experience is also different. Passive procrastinators feel a lot of pressure and stress when the deadline approaches. However, active procrastinators feel challenged and motivated by the pressure.
In order to reach your goals you need to be able to motivate yourself. Research shows that you can get more disciplined by knowing how self-discipline works. We made a whole video on hacking self-discipline, make sure to check it out!
How to stop procrastination
But now back to procrastination and the most important question of the day. How can you stop procrastinating? First of all, know why you’re doing whatever you’re doing. Make sure you know what the end goal is. It’s ok to forget sometimes, especially when reaching your goals can take several months or even years. For example, getting a university degree usually takes about 3-5 years. A great way of motivating yourself is imagining yourself in a couple of years with the degree, getting a good job and feeling proud of yourself.
Another way of making sure you don’t succumb to the dangers of procrastination is breaking down the task at hand into smaller parts. Starting out with a big project can be overwhelming. For example, writing a thesis sounds like a lot of scary work. However, finding three research papers that fit your topic is a simple and achievable thing to do.
Whether you are an active or a passive procrastinator, having control over your behavior means having control over your life. It’s so easy to get distracted these day but never forget that whatever you are working towards is much more important than the latest Netflix episode or a couple of cat memes your friend just sent.