Procrastination: The Thief Of Happiness

How time spent avoiding something may take over your life.

Stress 13th Jan, 2021

Procrastination happens to the best of us, in all of our daily lives. How often have you avoided doing the dishes/laundry/working from home by going on social media, sorting the junk drawer, or playing with your pet? There are many other examples, if one just popped into your mind, then you might want to retrain your brain. After all, the cleaning will still need to be done, all procrastination does is put it off and eat into what you have mentally defined as your free time. You may miss out on that walk to the park, hour to paint/ watch tv you were looking forward to, as time ticks away on avoidance activities.


The Definition of Procrastination:

The first step is to recognise what you are doing, if you get up intending to hoover and find yourself doing anything but that an hour later, stop. Even doing other useful activities like going through email is an excuse. Do not distract yourself with displacement activity, do the hoovering. The things we procrastinate about generally don’t take as long, or are as difficult, as we think they will be. In addition, the longer you avoid the job, the worse you start to feel, which ultimately impacts on your general happiness.

The next stage depends a little on your personality, if making a list works for you, then write one the evening before. Plan out your day, including breaks and tick items off for that feeling of achievement. Alternatively, or additionally, break a task down into smaller sections. If you are doing your tax return, focus on completing expenses for one month, then income, fuel etc. If a job feels overwhelming, you are far more likely to procrastinate, completing a small part at a time is far more achievable.

You also need to take short breaks, then you are far more likely to have the energy needed to complete tasks. However, you need to stick to approximately 5 minutes per hour, not get caught up in doing something else and procrastinating all over again. When you manage to stop for a short time, then carry on, you may find your mental health improves as you are achieving your goals.

Finally, you might find looking forward to a reward drives you to complete the tasks you set yourself. Whether it is a food based treat, doing something you love like reading/ gaming, or going for a run, make it a reward that will motivate you. Evaluate your rewards on a regular basis and do not use the same one every day, you want this to keep motivating you, not become just another chore.

Many people procrastinate on a regular basis, or even confuse it with planning, when you stop and think a task through. However when you plan for so long you totally avoid the activity, that is procrastinating. It is all too easy to feel overwhelmed by an activity, or job and then become your own worst enemy by putting it off. This is not good for your happiness and mental health. You can end up in a spiral of guilt, self recrimination and doubting your own abilities.

This is totally normal and can therefore, be changed. If you learn to see the signs of procrastination and put plans in place to motivate yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much you can get done in a day. Try it for yourself, challenge your procrastination habits, you may be amazed by how much time it frees up and how much happier you can be.

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