The procrastinator is often remarkably optimistic about his ability to complete a task on a tight deadline; this is usually accompanied by expressions of reassurance that everything is under control!
Take, for example, the student who estimates that a paper will take only five days to write; he has fifteen days; there is plenty of time; no need to start. Lulled by a false sense of security, time passes. At some point, he crosses over an imaginary starting time and suddenly realises, “Oh no! – I am not in control! There isn’t enough time!”
At this point, considerable effort is directed towards completing the task, and work progresses. This sudden spurt of energy is the source of the erroneous feeling that “I only work well under pressure.” Actually, at this point you are making progress only because you haven’t any choice. Your back is against the wall and there are no alternatives. Progress is being made, but you have lost your freedom!
Barely completed in time, the paper may actually earn a fairly good grade; whereupon the student experiences mixed feelings: pride of accomplishment (sort-of), scorn for the professor who cannot recognize substandard work, and guilt for getting an undeserved grade. But the net result is reinforcement: the procrastinator is rewarded positively for his poor behaviour. (“Look what a decent grade I got after all!”) As a result, the counterproductive behavior is repeated over and over again.
Positive reinforcement for delay (a good grade) is a principal contributor to continued procrastination.
Other Characteristics – which describes you?
Low Self-Confidence – The procrastinator may struggle with feelings of low self-confidence and low self-esteem. He may insist upon a high level of performance even though he may feel inadequate or incapable of actually achieving that level.
I’m Too Busy – Procrastination may be used to call attention to how busy they are. “Obviously I cannot do such and such because my affairs are so complicated and so demanding. That is why I am late, etc.” The procrastinator may even spend considerable time justifying his reasons; time that could be spent doing the work. The ‘victim’ attitude may be a way of trying to get attention.
Stubbornness – Procrastination may be used as an expression of stubbornness or pride: “Don’t think you can push me around. I will do it when I’m good and ready.”
Manipulation – Procrastination may be used to control or manipulate the behavior of others. “They cannot start if I am not there.” Or perhaps to push to see how far they can ‘go’ – as in the child who won’t complete their chores until Mom blows up!
Coping with Pressures – Procrastination is one method of coping with day-to-day pressures and experiences. The secondary gain is that if the work isn’t being done, they won’t get any more heaped on them.
Benefits of Overcoming Procrastination
It may seem obvious, but some people don’t really think about how they will feel when they take the bull by the horns and find ways to get things done on time. They fail to imagine the peace of mind, or feelings of strength and purpose, and healthy feeling of being in charge of life. While procrastination makes you feel weak, useless, and helpless, taking charge of your life will make you feel strong, competent, and capable. You will experience increased personal freedom!
The Procrastinator must find out what their ‘secondary gain’ is – what are they getting out of the procrastination? If it is simple avoidance of a difficult task, they need to focus on how they will feel once it is done. Most of the time, Procrastination is a subconscious behaviour and it is worth speaking to a coach or doing an online course to discover the underlying causes.
Hypnotherapy or self-hypnosis can help, as well as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). A good coach should be able to get you motivated without too much trouble!
The mind is a wonderful slave, but a terrible master! In order to be the master of our lives and destinies, we must first become master of our own minds!