I’ll do it tomorrow ... procrastinitis – part 2

Hello everyone! Welcome to the second part of my tutorial – it’s great to have you back again!

Today, I’d like to start by taking a quick look back: How are you? How do you feel about your project today? What did you get out of working in short spells, in an orderly pattern and within a clear time frame? Take a look at your record from the past week and let everything you achieved sink in for a moment. You should be proud of every occasion when you kept on going and finished something. Definitely! It doesn’t matter if they were small steps – that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Make some notes in answer to these questions. Writing things down helps you to build up a clear picture and recognise the progress you’re making.

Perhaps you also ran into some difficulties and felt uneasy on a number of different fronts. Maybe things didn’t work out at all.

Well, don’t worry – we’re on the right track and things don’t always go to plan at the first attempt. Keep at it, every attempt is a step in the right direction.

Perhaps a look at the background will help to make things a bit clearer.

Why do we (almost all of us, in fact) procrastinate? Against our better judgement and contrary to all those education guides and time management seminars. What lies behind this seemingly irrational behaviour that consumes a huge amount of energy and often stops you getting better grades? And in serious cases undermines personal well-being and self-esteem.

One of the most powerful sources of motivation is at work here: attempting to avoid negative feelings.

For example, all of us want to feel a sense of wellbeing, pride and pleasure, and would like nothing better than to avoid the unpleasant opposites of these emotions. Basically, this is a useful legacy of our evolution – but unfortunately, when it comes to complex tasks, attempting to avoid anxiety in the short term often leads to precisely that.

So what are the feelings and states that we’re typically trying to sidestep when we procrastinate?

Anxiety is often the core issue – a fear of not being up to the task, a fear of failure, a fear that our self-doubts will be confirmed no matter how well we keep them under wraps.

Closely related to anxiety, a sense of helplessness is often caused by a lack of knowledge about the task and what actually needs to be done.

Strain: we normally enjoy doing the things we’re good at. But leaving your comfort zone means confronting your own (current) limitations, and investing mental energy in things that aren’t always rewarded with success straight away.

And then there is simple aversion, a mix of boredom, indifference and a disinclination to do the job at hand – fertile soil for “procrastinitis”.

Only the bravest among us are prepared to put themselves at the mercy of emotions like these; most people bolt for the exit and avoid such feelings if they can.

So don’t worry if you find yourself experiencing these or similar feelings – this is a very common response to situations where we’re under pressure to perform. Try to be conscious of what it is that makes you uncomfortable – every situation where the potential for procrastination arises is a new opportunity to gain a better understanding of ourselves and develop a more relaxed attitude – and take the next step...

Part 2: Warming up – building on the momentum from your early successes

Over the past few days, you may have noticed that you find some jobs easier to do than others. We’re going to concentrate on these “warm-ups” in the next phase.

Again, I’d like you to set aside a specific period – this time 35 minutes – on every working day over the coming week (don’t forget to plan in at least one day off).

30 minutes of work and 5 minutes for your record. Set this period aside and stick to it.

Pick out some tasks related to your project that you find particularly easy, and begin each project session with the easiest ones of all. Take half of the time – 15 minutes – for these tasks.

In the second half of your project work on each day, try to do something a bit more challenging: try to find tasks that are a little trickier and that you need to put a bit more effort into – but it’s important that you don’t tackle the hardest jobs just yet.

Once again, after you’ve finished working for 30 minutes, take the last 5 minutes to make a record of what you’ve just done. Make a distinction between warm-ups and challenges.

Follow the same rule in week 2: stop working when 35 minutes are up. You’ve done everything you have to and you can take a break.

Next week we’ll move on to part 3: Take off in your mental helicopter and find the approach that’s right for you

If you have any questions or would like to arrange an appointment, you can reach me at angelika.groh@fh-vie.ac.at.


Contact:

If you have any questions or would like to have a consultation, please contact me at:

Groh, Angelika

Psychologist

+43 1 720 12 86-13

angelika.groh@fh-vie.ac.at