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Thursday, August 28, 2014
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The positive, and negative, effects of procrastination
All of us have moments when we find it practically impossible to deal with important and urgent tasks due to distractions. However, according to psychologists, some people are deliberately looking for distractions that prevent them from getting things done.
Procrastinators are people who constantly make decisions that interfere with their overall performance which has a negative impact on their lives. Without further ado, let's review both the positive and negative effects of procrastination.
Procrastination is a lifestyle
Procrastination can be viewed as a lifestyle mainly because the behaviours it determines in people take over all aspects of their life. To put it simply, procrastinators do not notice any negative consequence of performing tasks at the last minute and perhaps this is why they continue to do so. This is one of the reasons why they are actively looking for distractions that do not require a high level of commitment from their part. And, distractions these days are extremely easy to find, especially when you have a computer connected to the internet.
Procrastination is strongly related to self-regulation abilities
Even though procrastination can be linked to poor time management and planning skills, in reality it refers to a problem of self-regulation. In other words, the procrastinator does not perceive time any differently from others, but he is just more optimistic than the rest of us. Add the fact that procrastination is seen as a lifestyle and you will understand the futility of asking these individuals to create a weekly planner and stick to it.
Procrastinators often lie to themselves
Procrastinators are very likely to lie to themselves: essentially, they are convinced that they work very well under pressure and that they can finish all tasks on the next day, when they will surely feel up to it. Obviously, the urge to finish those charts tomorrow is usually absent that day and most of them do not perform well under pressure. When this happens, the coping mechanisms become active again and this is the moment when the procrastinator begins to believe the task is not really that important after all.
Procrastination has health consequences
Studies performed on procrastinating college students underlined several health problems for people in this demographic. Research shows that procrastinators have a weakened immune system, meaning that they are more prone to develop gastrointestinal problems and suffer from colds as well as flu more frequently. In addition, since they are not really using their internal resources, procrastinators are more likely to experience sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Procrastination's social effects
Since they avoid tasks as much as they can, it means that procrastination will have a major negative impact on the relationships (both private and at the workplace). Basically, because the procrastinator will not finish his tasks according to the deadlines established, his responsibilities will be transferred onto others who will become resentful, sooner or later.
The multiple reasons for procrastination
Psychologists distinguish between three types of procrastinators based on their reasons:
The avoiders - the individuals who are very concerned with what others think about them and who have a strong fear of failure or success. Essentially, they do not want to be judged harshly and instead of having their abilities criticised, they prefer others blaming them for their lack of effort.
The thrill-seekers - even though it may seem a bit far-fetched, some people prefer doing things at the last minute due to an euphoric rush sensation.
The decisional procrastinators - the individuals who cannot make decisions and who believe that they are not taking any responsibility, since they did not select one way or the other.
You're not born with procrastination
Regardless of the procrastinators’ reasons, it is important to note you are not born with it, but is rather something you develop over the years. The accepted explanation on the matter is that procrastination constitutes an indirect response to certain parental styles, such as the authoritarian approach. For instance, parents who are very strict and impose harsh rules for their children will prevent the latter from developing their self-regulating abilities. Another theory is that procrastination appears as a form of rebellion against the limiting household rules they had to follow. In addition, children who live under the aforementioned conditions will turn to friends for support. Unfortunately, in most cases friends only manage to reinforce the procrastination behaviour because they can accept excuses easier.
Procrastination allows you to do things you like
At this point, you can agree that procrastination means not doing the chores/tasks you are supposed to be doing. Another way of looking at this statement is that the procrastinator has the freedom of doing exactly the things he enjoys. In a way, procrastinators are to be admired considering that they are actually doing what everyone would enjoy rather than being stuck with work. After all, let's not forget that eventually even the greatest procrastinator manages to pay the bills, finish paperwork and get work done.
Procrastination is always telling you something
Even though it may sound silly, procrastinating when you have important things to do (finish a project or meet somebody) can be perceived as your subconscious mind’s way of telling you to stop. Even non-procrastinators find themselves in situations when they do everything but focus on the things that need to be done. Generally speaking, when you find something to be boring or you do not like a person, you will avoid the unpleasant task or interaction as much as you can. In other words, it is similar to a natural response to stress.
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