Procrastination

I’ll do it later.

This phrase is usually used in procrastination, or the act of putting off a task until later. The term is usually associated with students not doing assignments until the last minute, but procrastination exists across all demographics and in all areas of life. In fact, one study found that up to 20 percent of Americans describe themselves as chronic procrastinators.

So why do we procrastinate? In a 2016 Washington Post article, psychologists say that putting something off until later can have to do with the negative feeling a task can sometimes cause. For example, certain chores such as doing your taxes or scheduling a doctor’s appointment might make us feel anxious, nervous, among other unpleasant emotions. Not wanting to feel this way, we push these tasks aside to deal with later.

The constant presence of technology is commonly thought to be another major reason behind procrastination. While it can be a contributing factor, the phenomenon of delaying important tasks actually dates back to ancient times, according to a Mental Floss article. Procrastination can also involve doing the easy tasks first in favor of the difficult, time-consuming ones.

But in doing so, procrastination can have effects on our lifestyle and physical health. Delaying something important means having to do it at a later time, and can interfere with other important projects you have to accomplish. Worrying and then rushing to get the task done can result in an outcome you didn’t expect, as one Psych Central article states. The stress and anxiety procrastination causes can prevent us from truly relaxing during vacation time or keep us from fully enjoying time with friends and family. For physical health, researchers have linked procrastination to insomnia, high stress levels and an increased likelihood of catching colds and other sicknesses.

With that in mind, here are some ways to identify and beat procrastination habits.

Take a look at your habits. The first thing you do when getting up in the morning can affect your entire day. Spending breakfast on your phone might be a normal routine, but can have a major impact on your focus and work productivity and lead to procrastination, according to Entreprenuer.com. If you find this and similar habits in your routine, look for ways to change them. Starting with smaller steps can help you begin the day more focused.

Get organized. This might sound like a cliché, but writing that to-do list gives your brain a visual reminder of what has to get done, as said in this article from the Fast Company. Planning for the next day can help us feel less anxious about what’s to come and assist in motivation. Most smartphones have a calendar app or list function to help you get organized, or even try the old-fashioned notebook agenda or planner.

Seek guidance. Psychology Today points out that procrastination can sometimes be caused by not knowing how to start a task. If this is the case, look for advice on how to do so, either from online resources or from a friend or colleague. Asking for help might seem intimidating, but chances are that someone you know has been through the same situation and may know the best approach on how to accomplish it.

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