Procrastination is an often talked about problem, however the media often trivialise it using it as the butt of many jokes be it in sitcoms, films, talk shows or stand-up comedy. Although entertaining in the moment and often providing comic relief, it does not provide a solution. Unfortunately, such a solution does involve battling your inner demons and we all know this to be unpleasant however the improvement and success you will achieve will hopefully replace any temporary negative concepts you will have to address on the way.
More often than not the biggest negative contender that comes up in my seminars is blame. I stress to my clients and emphasise this here that this series takes a non-blaming view towards the triggers of your procrastination and focuses mainly on areas for positive improvement and advancement. However as we live in a blame ridden society you may have found yourself procrastinating to either avoid or defend social norms or personal standards where “blame culture” is rife. It is a global norm to spend the majority of our spare time blaming others, blaming ourselves or looking for someone to blame. Blame is in many countries linked to performance which makes up social values and is often is extrapolated to personal worth. The reason this series does not focus on blame is that, whether internalising or externalising blame, such negativity only hinders our self growth distracting ourselves from spending the time more usefully on improving the situation in front of us and taking responsibility for the remedy which is unrelated to the cause or mistake of that situation. In addition, the “blame culture” we often find ourselves in leads us to create justifications which are nothing more than self deceptions that our subconscious uses to avoid the acceptance of personal responsibility. It has no bearing on solving legitimate problems and only allows us to re-focus our energies on small irrelevant details rather than looking at the big picture.
In addition, the use of the word blame seems synonymous with other negative terms such as lazy, careless, stupid and indolent which only puts up our defence barriers which again hinders rather than fixes the problem. In this article we concentrate on using our brain to reason why we procrastinate making sense of our triggers allowing us to positively alter our brain patterns and reactions resulting in a better solution.
For those of you interested in the science behind the theory, your pre-frontal cortex is responsible for the reasoning aspect of your personality. It is here that you override the brain’s defence mechanisms setting off a protective element to avoid discomfort, hurt or upset. Such an element can be in the form of procrastination.
Below I have highlighted some of the more common procrastination patterns so that you can identify which areas of your life you would like to work on to overcome your brain’s diversion tactics to discomfort.
- Behavioural Procrastination – having great ideas and plans that never get off the ground and/or a to-do list that never gets quite finished.
- Deadline Procrastination – often receiving final reminders for your bills or only just making deadlines set by your boss.
- Decision-making Procrastination – constantly second guessing yourself, deferring making decisions and/or having trouble making the simplest of choices even down to a restaurant menu.
- Habitual Procrastination – you mean well yet time just seems to pass you by and deadlines arrive before you even realise it.
- Health Procrastination – not attending the gym even though you’ve paid for membership or feeling overly stress yet not taking time out to relax.
- Hinderance Procrastination – making people wait in a passive aggressive way or delaying them or yourself.
- Lateness Procrastination– showing up late for appointments and lacking the ability to be on time even if you want to be.
- Organisational Procrastination – finding it hard to write down clear, measurable and achievable goals, lacking in plans and living in clutter.
- Personal Procrastination – knowing you have bad habits but never getting round to breaking them, delaying facing up to problems and having the feeling that you are drifting through life.
- Social Procrastination – delaying others with a lack of commitment to being your word, inconveniencing others by causing delay, expecting people to accommodate you when you’re late.
- General Procrastination – you are unable to fulfill your responsibilities, you waste too much time, often under-delivering, do not stick to your priorities, start assignments at the last minute, find ways to extend deadlines, put things off that you’re not passionate about and rarely seem to get things done on time.
Reading the above procrastination patterns, work out which ones strike a chord with you and note them down for later on in our series where I will give you coping strategies for each type of behavioural pattern.
I will also look at the catalysts for the above procrastination patterns which include avoidance, fear of failure, mood, perfectionism, diversion tactics, discomfort aversion, self doubts, low self-esteem, overwhelming information, time management and readiness to change.
After reading this article I would like you to write down your top three procrastination patterns and the catalysts that you feel drive you towards avoiding responsibility. Throughout the series you will become familiar with procrastination forms and styles and the more you learn about these patterns the easier it will be for you to reprogram your habitual responses to your catalysts turning what you previously viewed as procrastination into efficiency.
I look forward to working with you to overcoming your procrastination.
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