Home page Psychology blog Bad Habits Self-Discipline «I’ll do it tomorrow»: how to fight the habit of putting things off.

“I’ll do it tomorrow”: how to fight the habit of putting things off.

26.09.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Some people can do everything they planned in one day and even exceed the quota. The others are sorely short of time, even for extremely important matters. It’s not that people of the first type get up in the morning and get more energetic during the day. They just don’t put things off for later, like people of the second type. But what explains this habit? Is it banal laziness or a learned behavior pattern? Read the answers to all the questions in our article.

Contents:

I’ll do it later: is it laziness or procrastination?

procrastinator

A man who constantly puts things off is not always lazy and irresponsible. More often, this behavior is caused by the established behavior pattern — the habit of being lazy — and the person is suffering from it.

In psychology, putting things off is called procrastination. Psychologist N. Milgram, who first studied this phenomenon, identifies 5 types of procrastination: [1]

  1. Daily procrastination — putting off household chores that must be performed regularly.
  2. Neurotic procrastination — difficulties in choosing a profession or hobby, a life partner.
  3. Academic – putting off performance of training tasks, preparation of course papers, exams, etc.
  4. Decision-making procrastination — a person cannot find a way out of the current situation within the specified time frame
  5. Compulsive procrastination is a combination of postponing any activity with delaying decision-making.

The problem of procrastination is much more serious than it seems at first glance. Putting off important tasks starts with one-off delays of tasks for an indefinite period, but over time turns into a learned behavior pattern — a habit is formed. Procrastination can lead to several negative consequences:

  • Lack of career growth;
  • Dismissal;
  • Nasty temper and depression due to constant guilt;
  • Lack of sleep and insomnia;
  • Low personal efficiency;
  • Conflicts in the family and at work; and
  • Financial insolvency.

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How does a typical procrastinator behave?

The behavior of a typical procrastinator can be described as follows:

  1. He enthusiastically takes on new projects, sometimes taking on an unbearable burden. But he is unable to perfectly cope with any of the tasks because he constantly gets distracted by something else.
  2. He is an optimist — every time he is sure that this task will get accomplished in time. It is the failure to properly assess risks that leads to constant deadline pressure. 
  3. When he comes to the realization that all the deadlines have passed and the project is still not finished, he feels a sharp sense of guilt, which undermines his self-esteem and self-confidence.
  4. He does not just stall for time; he replaces his task with other activities. “Important” chatting in social networks, phone conversations, search for unnecessary information and cleaning — distractions can vary. [2]

Why do people put off important tasks for later?

fight procrastination

The fight against procrastination will not be successful unless the causes of this phenomenon are identified. What makes a person constantly put things off?

  • Lack of personal interest;
  • Negative emotions in relation to tasks;
  • Inability to plan time and prioritize;
  • Inability to be creative in the performance of tasks;
  • Fear of failure;
  • Unhealthy perfectionism;
  • Psychological pressure from another person (husband/wife, boss, colleague);
  • Reluctance to take responsibility; and
  • Rebellious temper. [1]
According to psychologists, procrastinators usually have low self-esteem. Unsure of themselves, they set themselves up for failure. This “slows down” the development of the person and does not allow them to enthusiastically take on the project. This behavior pattern is formed in childhood. There is a high probability that people brought up by overbearing, tough parents, would become a procrastinator in the future. They are used to the fact that their every move is controlled and mistakes are condemned. They don’t develop the skill of self-planning of their affairs and performing tasks without a clear external incentive. As a result, it is very difficult for them to voluntarily take on an important task. [2]

How to stop putting things off?

If the syndrome of putting things off has transformed a learned behavior pattern, try to change your habits. The recommendations of psychologists will be useful:

  1. Make the proper to-do list for tomorrow

A clear daily routine and to-do list for coming days are very useful for procrastinators. It disciplines.

To make the day more efficient, plan things wisely: the most important tasks should go first, other, less urgent ones — after. This approach will teach you how to prioritize and help develop self-control skills.

  1. Create a work environment around you

The fewer distractions around, the faster and more efficient you will complete the project. Create a basic working environment: if possible, turn off the Internet or the sound of notifications on your smartphone, put a hold on phone conversations for some time. Focus on a specific task.

  1. Take breaks

When performing tasks, the procrastinators are often distracted, and then they try to make up for a lost time.

Don’t set yourself up to sit at work till the last breath — it’s a bad motivation. Breaks are necessary. Periodically switch to another activity to “reboot.” Let it be a pleasant walk somewhere outdoors instead of social media.

  1. Don’t try to make everything perfect

Healthy perfectionism is useful. But in some cases it’s only a hindrance. The desire to do everything perfectly does not allow for relaxation and enjoyment of the process.

Learn to take it easier. Try not to put yourself into the rigid boundaries of “perfection.”

  1. Learn to correct your mistakes

Tasks not finished in due time cause a sharp sense of guilt that you spend emotional strength on.

Even if you failed to get a grip and complete the task on time again, do not call yourself a loser. A mistake does not mean a defeat. Try once more to build your actions step by step to change the situation. By analyzing the flaws, you can eliminate those aspects that prevent you from working productively.

  1. Use the 7Spsy Behavior Modification Technique

Putting things off for later is not an illness in itself. However, in some cases, self-management proves to be ineffective. Do not wait until everything would sort itself out, otherwise your daily routine will always be ruled by procrastination and bouts of laziness. Complete the 7Spsy psychological training on behavior modification technology. It is a patented technique based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky, and others.

We will help you develop the qualities of strong will

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

The training will help you to change habits and stop being lazy, constantly putting important things off. A healthy behavior mindset that you will master will charge you with self-belief and commitment. Then you will be able to perform even the most complex project without procrastination.

The 7Spsy Behavior Modification Technique training is designed for up to 6 weeks. The remote training format will help to plan your day most effectively and work with psychologists at a convenient time. Experts will answer all questions and advise by phone, e-mail and online chats. You don’t have to inform any of your colleagues that you’re working on it — everything is strictly confidential, your reputation won’t be affected.

References:

  1. «Rabota i lichnost’. Trudogolizm, perfekcionizm, len’», 2011 g, E. P. Ilyin.
  2. «Teoreticheskie osnovy izucheniya fenomena prokrastinacii» (elektronnyj nauchnyj zhurnal «Lichnost’ v menyayushchemsya mire: zdorov’e, adaptaciya, razvitie», 2013 g), V. S. Kovylin.(https://cyberleninka.ru/article/v/teoreticheskie-osnovy-izucheniya-fenomena-prokrastinatsii).