According to psychology professor Joseph Ferrari of De Paul University in Chicago, procrastination affects everyone, but that doesn’t make everyone a procrastinator. Ferrari says that 25% of adults can be considered serial procrastinators. They’re consistent about procrastinating in everything they’re involved in, whether in their family life, work places, or social connections. They thrive in life by putting things off, even if they have time for it.
Researchers have long delved into possible reasons behind procrastination. Some findings suggest that it’s a genetic trait, while there are experts who say that it’s a pattern learned. Recent studies conducted on human behaviour suggest that people procrastinate because of a mood disorder. Psychology professor Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada says that people with this disorder are in constant effort to keep themselves in a good mood. They attain this by evading tasks, the hard work that the tasks entail, and everything negative that could possibly result from performing them.
Pychyl says that by procrastinating, a person has it easy and delays any judgment on the outcome. There is immediate reward here, which also lightens the mood and attains the objective of the person with the mood disorder. Unfortunately, this good mood is short-term because, eventually, the tasks build up and cause problems.
Pychyl says that the learned habit can be unlearned to the advantage of the procrastinator. If you are affected by procrastination, the important thing is to start. Start small, if you need to. Start by not thinking about the whole sequence involved; that could be highly undesirable. Perform the first thing about it, then the next, and the next. It will build a momentum instead of daunt you with its bigness. Before you know it, you’re halfway and you realize it’s not as huge as it looked at first.
It may also be wise to make several segments of a whole task, and celebrate each time a segment is finished. There’s nothing wrong with making things easier and happier for you. Pychyl illustrates further by talking about his love for a cold bottle of beer after work (which he often has), though he also enjoys riding a bicycle (which he often puts off for other days). He solves this by leaving the beer on the counter before going to work. He also sets his bicycle by the door. When he arrives from the office, he sees his warm beer, gets it and places it inside the fridge. He then rides his bike to make a few rounds. He returns home just in time for the beer to chill.
Don’t wait for tomorrow to outwit procrastination. There are things you can do now.