PROCRASTINATION: TIPS FOR WRANGLING THE PESKY BEAST

PROCRASTINATORS TO DO LIST 

 MONDAY

  1.) Set alarm for 730am – wake up at crack of noon

  2.) Drink coffee, scrutinize To Do List, then watch 5 Nurse Jackie’s

  3.) Walk past mountain of laundry, avert eyes

  4.) Obsess over noxious fumes inhaled at construction site on 77th and 3rd

  5.) Compare myself to Alison, then feel horrible for 2 hours

  6.) Assume everyone in Tuesday Night Yoga hates me

  8.) Stare at vacuum for 20 minutes then go to Ebay & spend $60 on stupid crap

 

 

 

In this vibrant city brimming with opportunities, procrastination is a postmodern issue that appears to be an unfolding epidemic. Perhaps it’s the explosion of technological advances, internet black holes, gaming vortices, workplace reshufflings or a host of other potential causes. Whatever the case, scientific studies are now suggesting that procrastination affects up to 20% of adults in the United States and close to 95% of those affected would give anything to conquer it.

So, what is exactly is procrastination? Definitions vary for this pesky beast but, to build on its Latin origin, pro means forward or in favor of – and crastinus means tomorrow. Basically we all know and understand procrastination to be about delaying or putting off tasks and lately our collective understanding is that procrastination is a bad thing. In fact, throughout history, it has been widely considered a serious human failing. So if procrastination is so horrendous why do so many of us do it and why then is science just now getting around to examining this crucial human dilemma? Has science also been procrastinating?

 

PROCRASTINATION-WHAT IN SAM-NATION CAUSES IT?

According to the current research, there are many possible causes: Feeling overwhelmed, impulsiveness, task aversion, perfectionism, poor time management, anxiety, depression or even just a general lack of energy, discipline and motivation.  Whatever the cause, the results are all the same – a large invisible creature has plopped himself down in your living room an. He is an unwanted, uninvited guest and you can hear him from the bedroom and smell him from the kitchen. What is a New Yorker to do?

Well, like all unproductive behaviors, procrastination exists on a continuum. On one end there are the occasional procrastinators and on the other, the chronic couch potatoes. All the rest of us are somewhere in the middle. As a psychotherapist and coach, I’ve had a serious number of clients who have wrestled with this issue and the unfortunate truth is- there is no quick fix for procrastination. There are, however, few evidence-based strategies that may be able to help the average procrastinator.

Since inertia begets inertia, doing nothing will not help, so what the procrastanizer must first realize is that in order to break his own unproductive cycle, he must first pay attention to this surly creature. He must greet him, pet him, and tame the fat bastard once and for all!

TIPS FOR WRANGLING THE PROCRASTASAURUS

1.) FEED HIM a healthy meal – anything green, lots of protein - avoid sugar, bread, bagels, wheat products

2.) WATER HIM – drink a huge glass of cold water – notice any difference in your energy level?

3.) EXERCISE HIM – Try a quick 3-5 minutes of cardio: dancing, running, jumping jacks, aerobics etc.

4.) CLEAN HIS CAGE – clean something – one thing – clean the kitchen, vacuum the living room, make your bed, scrub the tub, wash the counters etc

5.) GROOM HIM – Take a shower, wash your hair, get dressed up (as if going to work) put your shoes on then tackle one task that’s been eating at you for days!

6.) REWARD HIM – Do TWO things from your To Do list then treat yourself to your favorite energy-draining, procrastination-laced activity – 7 hours of Netflix, surf the web indefinitely, Funny or Die til you drop, Facebook your ass off, EBay your rent and con ed money, enjoy the season finale of Shameless, etc.

7.) FIND HIM A BUDDY - Create goals for your To Do lists and give them to a friend and have him/her hold you accountable to several items on your list, or start your own procrastination group!

It is important to understand that to change one’s behavior is not an easy fix. The longer you leave the beast alone in the living room the smellier he gets, and giving him the heave-ho will take a little muscle, so be willing to tolerate a little discomfort, and be ready to clean up after him once he leaves.

So, tackling procrastination, like all behavior changes is a process, and although putting things off may feel good at first it will ultimately feel worse in the long run. So, instead of heading off to the kitchen to get some potato chips, or spending another 5 hours doing God knows what on the Internet – why not sit down, make a list of three tasks you’ve been putting off and take a crack at one of them?