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Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200121-why-procrastination-is-about-managing-emotions-not-time

bbc.com

Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time
Like many writers, I'm a supreme expert at procrastination. When I ought to be working on an assignment, with the clock ticking towards my deadline, I'll sit there watching pointless political interviews or boxing highlights on YouTube (cat videos aren't my thing).

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Procrastinating and emotions

According to traditional thinking, procrastinators have a time-management problem. They are unable to understand how long a task will take and need to learn how to schedule their time better.

However, psychologists increasingly realize that procrastination is an issue with managing our emotions, not our time.

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Short-term mood lifters

Studies show low mood only increases procrastination if enjoyable activities are available as a distraction. In other words, we're drawn to other activities to avoid the discomfort of applying ourselves.

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Adverse consequences

Procrastination leads to two primary consequences.

  1. It's stressful to keep putting off important tasks and failing to meet your goals.
  2. Procrastination often involves delaying important health behaviors, such as taking up exercise or visiting a doctor.

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Overcoming procrastination

The next time you're tempted to procrastinate, focus on this question: "What is the next action I would take on this task if I were to get started on it now?"

Doing this will take your mind off your feelings and onto an easily achievable action.

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Helpful procrastination

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something.

From the outside, postponing your work can seem like a big waste of time. However, procrastination can help you do your wor...

Meaningful work

Doing creative and deep work requires you to let go. Procrastination allows one to get rid of the thoughts that are still occupying your mind. It helps you to loosen up.

Letting go

When you have been able to delay your work, your thoughts are empty and you are better able to work with challenging ideas. The work that follows is highly productive.

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The #1 skill to overcome procrastination

Facing a task, experiencing the uncomfortable emotions associated with it and doing the task despite those  emotions.

Procrastination is an emotion management problem

Happens when we feel uncomfortable (anxiety, overwhelm ) toward a task. We want to do it, but end up doing something else that feels better.  We run away from our negative thoughts and emotions.

Our mind is a reason-giving machine

It rationalizes the shit out of anything that’s just a little bit uncomfortable and create excuses as to why we shouldn’t do something now. Those excuses are irrational, but sound superficially reasonable. 

Procrastination as a coping mechanism

People tend to procrastinate to avoid emotionally unpleasant tasks - so they choose to focus on something that provides a temporary mood boost.

This creates a vicious cycl...

The science behind getting started

Progress on our goals feeds our well-being. So the most important thing to do is bootstrap a little progress: get a little progress, and that’s going to fuel your well-being and your motivation.

Implementation intentions for better focus

This is a self-regulatory strategy in the form of an "if-then plan": "If the phone rings, then I’m not going to answer it." "If my friends call me to say we’re going out, I’m going to say no." So you’ve already made these pre-commitments.