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Daily regimen: How procrastination interferes with our plans

04.04.2019 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin

“The worst came when I broke my sleep schedule, in addition to my general lack of organization. My circadian rhythms turned to dust. I slept for mere two hours and woke up utterly exhausted, but I couldn’t fall back asleep. I walked around my house like a zombie, the only things I could do were eat and stare at the screen. In 6 hours I managed to fall asleep, yet I still woke up after two hours. That went for days. I gained ten pounds, failed to work, I was lucky to have some savings. I have no idea how I survived that month. Now my schedule is my friend. I almost worship it.”

– Aleksandr, 34

We often shrug off a daily regimen as something useless and unnecessary. “Daily regimen is for kindergarten! I’m already an adult!” In reality though, a proper daily regimen is a key to our productivity, health and peace of mind.

Our bodies adjust to planetary rhythm and function differently depending on the time of day. For example, our body starts producing a stress hormone cortisol, which also helps us be awake and active, in the morning. Another hormone, melatonin, comes into play after dark and ensures our good night’s sleep.

If we go to sleep at different times every day, our body begins to “panic”. Should it release sleep hormones? Is it time for cortisol? I have already produced this hormone, how should I use it now? Should I start all the digestive processes?

If we have no general regimen, our bodies stop functioning properly, which leads to various physical disorders, general lack of focus, attention scatter and decrease in productivity, etc.

Let’s find out why we need a daily regimen, how it can help us get rid of procrastination and make us more organized, and also let’s learn which actions break our internal clock.

Contents:

  1. Is my daily routine disturbed?
  2. Causes of routine disturbance
  3. Consequences of a disturbed routine
  4. Establishing a daily routine and achieving more
  5. If you’ve already tried everything and nothing helped

Is my daily routine disturbed?

Is my daily routine disturbed

Some people can perfectly live with a disturbed regimen. Ones have already adapted to it, others simply don’t care. Check yourself: do you really wish to change your life rhythm?

Read the following statements and answer “yes” or “no”.

  1. I’d like to have easier time waking up in the morning and going to sleep in the evening.
  2. I want to achieve more things in one day.
  3. I am often upset when I have to go to sleep.
  4. I sometimes fail to do many of the things I have planned.
  5. I often drink coffee or smoke to remain alert.
  6. I have to drink alcohol in the evening to relax and fall asleep.
  7. I want to start doing something but always postpone it (for example, do some sports but postpone it because of exhaustion).
  8. I always work or study in a crunch, meaning I push everything to the last moment.

You may have need surprised by some of the statements. “Well, is there any person who doesn’t want to achieve more? I doubt that!” However, there are also people who can say: “I’m fine with my productivity level”, while others are crammed with unfinished tasks due to poor regimen and even get fired.

  • If you have answered “yes” to at least three of the statements, you’ll find it useful to change your routine and pay attention to your time management.
  • If you have answered “no” to the majority of statements, then you are likely content with your life rhythm. Still, you’ll probably find some useful ideas in this article.

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Causes of routine disturbance

Causes of routine disturbance

A daily routine can be disturbed for a variety of reasons, but in majority of cases they have something in common: lack of useful habits or presence of negative learned behavior patterns.

Incoherent sleep

Also, an inconsistent sleeping schedule. Such erratic pattern can be mandated by frequent business trips and jet lag. However, more often than not is happens out of our own habits.

Alcohol and stimulating agents intake

Coffee, energy drinks and tobacco can help us remain alert, but they can also cause insomnia if the body stays in that alert state for too long. Late sleep leads to late waking up or insufficient sleep, so a person needs another dose of such stimulants. It eventually becomes a vicious circle.

Alcohol reduces the quality of night’s rest, even though it helps with falling asleep.

Lack of plans, goals and organization

Planning helps us perform actions to achieve our goals and track our progress. If a person lacks planning skills, they act erratically, spend too much effort, cannot see their progress, lose motivation and forget their goals.

Life changes

Job change, moving, birth of a child and other events can cause a temporary disturbance in our schedule. We need time to accustom ourselves to changes and our new life rhythm. However, in some cases changes happen too often for us to adapt, for example, a birth of a child has a strong impact on our lives. With a small child, our routine changes every month.

Emotional burnout

In the state of constant stress and exhaustion our body starts to save its energy: we become more indifferent towards our work or duties, develop a negative attitude and lose any kind of satisfaction from any activity. As the result, a person simply stops doing the necessary or important things, or pays little attention to them.

Anxiety and depressive disorders

These disorders can also make a person less organized and disturb their schedule. It is near impossible to make solid plans, achieve any goals and start new things in this state. Fighting such lack of organization is much harder, because a person first needs to treat their depression and anxiety.

Consequences of a disturbed routine

Consequences of a disturbed routine

All the consequences we are about to list appear due to disturbances in daily routine, but they can also intensify the already existing problems. For example, lack of proper sleeping habits leads to the lack of sleep and drowsiness, which in turn disturb a daily routine even further.

Sleeping disorders

According to statistics, people are now sleeping less than before. In the middle of the past century, people slept 8 hours a day on average. Sleep is extremely important for a human being. Our brains recover and rest during the night, organizing and processing acquired information. Our creative capabilities and decision making skills improve during sleep.

However, nowadays people sleep 6-6.5 hours a day on average. Such reduced sleeping time has a negative effect on our health: lower immunity, decreased ability to control our actions, which can lead to weight gain if paired with increased appetite. Prolonged lack of sleep can even cause hallucinations and mental disorders. In most cases though, a person simply becomes irritable, drowsy, passive, they find it hard to concentrate and focus, remember and process new things.

Procrastination

Inability to adhere to a proper daily schedule is often accompanied by a habit of postponing important activities. The following mindset can cause procrastination.

CauseThoughts
Low self-esteem (or depression)I won’t make it anyway, it’s too hard, I cannot do this on my own, no one will enjoy it anyway
PerfectionismI lack knowledge, I need to read 10 more books. I’d better do everything perfectly and never, than haphazardly and right now
StubbornnessI won’t do this because you are making me, no one has the right to order me, I’ll decide for myself what’s best
Lack of personal significance
(or external motivation)
I don’t know why I’m doing this, it’s meaningless, I gain nothing from this activity, I won’t need it any time soon
Desire for immediate pleasureI want to be entertained right here right now. I’d rather pick an easier thing to do

Normally, deadlines and external limitations help us overcome this bad habit of postponing:

  • We are afraid that we will lose our bonus (personal significance), so we finish the project.
  • We decline an invitation to a party today because we don’t want any problems in the university tomorrow.

However, if we lack external stimuli, it becomes much harder for us to stop postponing our duties, as our procrastination comes in play. For example, a sports activity we’d like to start but never do. Or having a proper diet. Or visiting a doctor. Or starting our own business. When no one pushes us to go and do something, when there is no rush, we can start postponing a certain activity endlessly, while the life goes by.

Bad mood

There we should note 3 important points:

  1. Postponing activities negatively affects the mood. You may think that procrastination helps us rest, but rest helps us restore our energy, while procrastination actually makes us spend it on a constant stress about a whole lot of unfinished and urgent business.
  2. We can develop bad mood due to our personal perception of our productivity and constant self-criticism. For example, we may have the following thoughts: “What did I do the whole day? Nothing useful again, didn’t I? I’m an awful person.”
  3. Lack of solid plans can make our life distressing and unpredictable, while proper planning helps us keep calm about many situations.

Problems with self-discipline and organization

A person who cannot or has no desire to follow a proper daily regimen is often struggling with developing self-discipline. They find it hard to make plans, resist temptations, return to desired activities, for example, stop actually scrolling a social feed after 15 minutes and return to work. The more a person disrupts their schedule, the more they get used to this behavior, and develop a pattern that becomes increasingly hard to change.

Establishing a daily routine and achieving more

Establishing a daily routine and achieving more

It is important to understand that a daily routine can be unique to a person. You must consider your work/schools schedule, your physical state, level of fatigue, sleeping need etc. You must also follow these principles:

  • Put all the necessary activities in your schedule and establish their duration.
  • Develop your planning skills and learn to set your goals. Discipline is extremely important for productive activities and goal achievement.
  • Devote enough time to rest, desirably outdoor activities.
  • Eat regularly if possible, at the same time every day.
  • Get enough sleep. An average person needs around 8 hours of sleep, and you should allocate night time for it. It’s better to go to bed before 12 AM. Ideally, before 10 PM.

Make your sleep schedule the basis of your daily regimen.

If you follow the plan properly, your brain will develop its own rhythm and reflexes. For example, you will wake up before an alarm clock, fall asleep easier, your digestive system will be ready for the meal and your mind will be ready for a morning run, etc.

You don’t have to take any pills to treat your procrastination and schedule disturbances. A daily regimen is mostly a learned habit, so behavior therapy can do the trick. You can modify your behavior using our 7Spsy technique. The course lasts 2-6 weeks. By the end of it you will learn to regulate your daily routine, solve your sleeping problems, stop postponing your activities all the time.

Another important step for developing discipline and daily routine is figuring out of all external factors that affect your desired daily regimen.

Let’s see how we can achieve our goals by raising an example: improve sleep schedule.

IssueSolution method
Street lights are too bright, I cannot fall asleepClose the curtains for the night or buy blinds
When I go to sleep, I get stuck in my social feed and forget about timeDon’t take your phone with you to bed
I am used to having time for myself at night, after everyone else falls asleep and no one interferesDedicate a limited amount of time for that and set up an alarm clock to know when it is time to go to sleep
I often promise myself to go to bed earlier, but I never keep this promisePlan your evening, decide upon the time to sleep and keep to it using a timer. Go to bed exactly when you have planned*
I roll over in bed before sleep oftenFollow sleep hygiene: sleep in a dark, cool and silent place, use your bed only for sleep etc. It will take time to develop an ability to fall asleep fast, so don’t get disappointed if you fail the first time you try.

*Forming a habit will require some effort. Willpower will help you fight your laziness and lack of organization. You can develop willpower, and the more you use it, the easier it will be to use.

If you’ve already tried everything and nothing helped

What should you do in such case:

“Well, I’ve tried it and it didn’t work! I am an owl, a pigeon or another sick bird, anyway, I’m not big on all these sleeping schedule.”

“It’s too hard, I cannot make it on my own. How can I defeat my procrastination if I procrastinate on fighting it?”

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Changing your schedule and fighting procrastination is not as easy as you think. Many people forget that they need time to develop a new habit. Also, it is very important to ensure that your chosen method works for you and does not depend solely on external factors. Each of our habits stems from our own mindset.A whole complex of habits and learned reactions leads to regimen disruption. It can be extremely hard to untangle this whole issue on your own. Remember: you can always ask for help. For example, our  7Spsy behavior modification course will help you change your habits that interfere with your daily regimen and become more productive. What’s more, the whole course can be taken anonymously, and you won’t even have to discuss personal topics.