Why do we procrastinate and how to avoid procrastination are two important questions? I mean why do you put things off that you could do now? For instance, you have to clean your bedroom, you put it off. You have to go to the dentist. You put it off. You have to exercise, you put it off till another day. And another day never comes.
Procrastination is when you put off a task that needs to be done. I do it. We all do it. However, if putting things off is becoming a perpetual habit, and you struggle to finish tasks, it might be a bigger problem. How to avoid procrastination encourages you to identify the reasons for procrastinating over things you normally breeze over, so you can make a better plan that fits in with your lifestyle.
Manage Your Stress
If you feel stressed confronting a task you keep pushing to the back burner, the earlier you get it over and done with, the better for your emotional wellness. Procrastinating on that feared task gives you a short term relief, but your mind is not rested. That is the downside, and the fact that the task won’t go away stresses you even more.
If the stress is becoming awful so much as it keeps you from accomplishing tasks, you might notice it affects you in other ways, too, like:
- Poor sleep
- Troubled mind
- Muscle tension
With regular exercise, alcohol and caffeine limitation, your mood will lighten up and you should be able to sleep better. Alcohol and caffeine can worsen stress. Talking to a friend or a counsellor about this problem also helps.
Find Out If It Is ADHD
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder affects behavior. People who suffer from ADHD have trouble making decisions or accomplishing tasks before a deadline. Some get too sidetracked with other activities around them. Others find it hard to make future plans, or they get exasperated easily and dump the task midway.
Other signs of ADHD include:
- Forgetful and misplacing things
- Making risky decisions
- Fidgeting or restless
Medications can often help control any signs of the disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps identify and change negative thought patterns, also may assist many people with the condition to manage their time better.
Your level of determination changes daily and depends on several factors, including whether you had adequate sleep. If you have had less than 6 hours, it is more difficult for your brain to block out distractions and concentrate long enough to complete what you need to do.
Other signs that you need more sleep include:
- Dozing off while watching TV or reading a book
- Feeling ill-tempered
- Sleeping more hours on weekends
- Struggling to wake up in the mornings
To get a good night’s rest, keep the same bedtime and wake time. Don’t smoke, and steer clear of alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals for a few hours before bed, since they can disrupt your sleep.
Get Rid of Your Anxiety
Anxiety means your brain overreacts to negative emotions. You imagine the worst, even when things are alright and there is really no need to panic. Some people with anxiety devote so much energy worrying about family, relationships, health, finances, or work that they find it difficult to continue with daily tasks.
Signs of anxiety might also include:
- Headache or muscle tension
- Poor sleep
- Bad temper
To stop anxious feelings, take 10 slow, deep breaths, or replace a negative thought with a positive one. It is also crucial to get adequate rest, exercise regularly, and make sure you do not miss your meals. Keep a journal to help you learn what triggers your anxiety. Some people need medications or talk therapy to keep the condition in check.
Move Out of Depression
Depression changes your brain’s chemistry. You may have very little enthusiasm or energy, even for pastimes and activities you love. It is common to feel abandoned and buckle under self-criticism, which can cause someone with the condition to completely go into isolation or “shut down.”
Other signs of depression include:
- A feeling of sadness that won’t go away
- Low appetite and weight loss, or overeating and weight gain
- Irritable or restless
- Thoughts of suicide or death
If you are thinking about hurting yourself or others, get professional help quickly. Even if not, talk to a therapist if you have any of these other symptoms. Your doctor is also a good resource. Antidepressant medicine may also give relief to some people suffering from depression
Resolve Any Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) means your brain cannot signal when you are doing something correctly. Instead, you have a nagging sense that your actions are not just right. Rather than complete a task, people with OCD get bogged down searching for the perfect solution.
Other signs include:
- Many unsolicited thoughts or images
- Feeling helpless to stop the thoughts
- Rituals like hand washing
- Spending at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts and rituals
Anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants can often improve OCD symptoms. Many people get to know how to avoid procrastination by using cognitive-behavioral therapy or exposure therapy where they learn to slowly face their fears.
Be Sincere To Yourself
Your best bet on how to avoid procrastination is to be sincere with yourself about what might be holding you back from getting a task done. Then think of realistic doable ways to move past it.
If the reason for not completing a task is related more to a serious health problem, talk to your doctor and be certain to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
If the problem is the normal good old-fashioned procrastination, divide big projects into smaller bits you can complete easily without breaking a sweat. You can set targets to stay on track. Some people also reward themselves for progress made. This might also be helpful in pushing for the finishing line.
Do not feel guilty, ashamed or angry when you find yourself wasting time. Instead forgive yourself, pat yourself on the back for what’s achieved so far, with a new resolution to complete the task. It is likely you will not procrastinate again if you are kind to yourself.
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