In this article, we are going to introduce procrastination and talk about some major concepts you need to learn. After understanding what procrastination is, we are going to explore different solutions you can use to escape the procrastination jail.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is the art of avoiding necessary tasks and instead shifting the focus to more pleasant and satisfying ones. Procrastination is not entirely due to lack of self-motivation, laziness or incompetence. Scientifically-speaking, procrastination causes actual physical pain. The pain centers of the brain lights up when a procrastinator is on a dreadful task. When someone is confronted with pain, they don’t voluntarily approach but try to avoid it altogether. Procrastination is more of battle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex controls planning and decision-making while the limbic system is a set of brain structures containing the pleasure center. The limbic system usually wins due to lack of development in the prefrontal cortex thus leading to procrastination.

There are five types of procrastinators:

The Perfectionist:

  • This is the most common type of procrastinators. We all have tasks that we like and dislike. We dislike the tasks we’re not good at and that’s why the perfectionists usually procrastinate. They spend too much time on a task they’re good at and wait for the last minute to finish the unpleasant tasks.

The Imposter:

  • An imposter procrastinator is one who is afraid of being judged on his work. As a result, tries to avoid revealing his work and thus procrastinating.

The Dread-filled:

  • This type of procrastinator won’t work on anything that does not excite him, and therefore will lose interest and motivation to finish the tasks required.

The Overwhelmed:

  • Usually when someone gets overwhelmed with tasks and responsibilities especially under a deadline. They would start with the most important task and finish the work step-by-step, however an overwhelmed procrastinator wouldn’t start with anything and therefore won’t finish the work required.

The Lucky:

  • There’s a group of procrastinators that have actually made peace with procrastination. They know how to tackle their tasks and get the work done on last minute.

How is procrastination really affecting us?

  • Procrastination is often viewed as a lifestyle (whether by choice or not) largely because the behaviors take over all aspects of the individual’s life. Put simply, procrastinators do not usually notice any negative consequences of performing tasks at the last minute and this is likely why they continue to keep up their procrastination habits
  • It’s a common misconception that procrastination is due to a problem with managing time, when in fact, it’s a much more complex issue. People who procrastinate don’t do it because they underestimate how long a task will take. Instead, they are overly optimistic about their ability to get the job done.
  • Procrastination has been linked to higher levels of consumption of alcohol among those people who drink. 1 out of 5 people admit that their procrastination has gotten so out of hand that they have jeopardized their jobs, credit, relationships, and even their health.
  • Research has shown that procrastinators often have a weakened immune system, meaning that they are more prone to develop gastrointestinal problems and suffer from colds as well as flu more frequently. Additionally, procrastinators are more likely to experience sleep disorders such as insomnia. Statistics show that procrastination affects over 20 % of the population. According to research, procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years.
  • In 1978, 5% of the population admitted to being chronic procrastinators compared to roughly 26% of the population today. Procrastination statistics suggest that 40% of people have experienced financial loss due to procrastination

How can you stop procrastinating and escape the procrastination jail?

  1. Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further.
  2. Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines. Break down your project, then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date.
  3. Eliminate your procrastination pit-stops. Get rid of the distractions around you. Turn off your phone and disable the automatic notification option in your email client when you want to work on a task.
  4. Hang out with people who inspire you to take action. Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you — most likely the go-getters and hard workers — and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.
  5. Tell others about your goals. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.
  6. Stop over-complicating things. Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.
  7. Get a grip and just do it. At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

On the other hand, there are some techniques you can use on a daily basis to condition your subconscious brain to stop procrastinating once and for all.

  1. The 1–2–3 Method: Whenever you become aware that you are procrastinating on something, make it a habit to count to three and then go do what you have to do. This way, your subconscious brain will be conditioned to overcome and eliminate procrastination every time you count to three.
  2. The 1 Minute Method: If you are procrastinating on anything, try to force yourself to work on it for only one minute. Usually, when we are procrastinating, all we need to do is start, and once we start, we will find it a lot easier to keep doing the rest of the work.
  3. The Bracelet Technique: You will need to have an elastic bracelet on your wrist. We are going to be using a behaviorism method where you are going to train your behavior to match your goals. Every time you notice thoughts of procrastination arising, you need to snap the elastic bracelet on your wrist, in a way to associate physical pain with thoughts of procrastination, then you need to go and do whatever it is you had to do. Once you’re done, reward yourself for the accomplishment you made. The human brain is conditioned to avoid pain and embrace pleasure. When procrastination is linked to physical pain, your mind would want to avoid these thoughts as they are bringing you pain. You would then shift into completing the tasks as this brings you pleasure. This method is one of the most effective methods you can use.