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Overcome Procrastination by Understanding Why We Do It

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We’re all familiar with procrastination. For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been postponing the tasks we know we should do.

No matter how you experience it, procrastination affects everyone equally. It’s a force that prevents us from creating the life we want.

This article will break down how procrastination reigns over us so you can easily understand and apply the strategies to overcome it.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

The strangeness of procrastination is that we desperately try to avoid a task we’ve picked as the best way to spend our time. Why is it we know what’s ideal but would much rather do anything else? 

There are two answers to that question: Time Inconsistency and The DUST Model.

Time Inconsistency

Time Inconsistency is our brain’s tendency to value immediate rewards higher than future ones.

The easiest way to understand this concept is to imagine you’re made up of two people: your present self and your future self. When you set a goal—like starting a business—that’s your future self. It recognizes that taking action on things with long-term benefits is important.

While your future self can set goals, only your present self can take action. The problem is that your present self only cares about instant gratification. So if your task doesn’t bring an immediate benefit, you’re not going to have any motivation to do it.

This creates a gap between what you want to do and what you actually do. Your future self wants to work on a side business, but your present self wants to watch Netflix. This disagreement is the primary driver of procrastination.

The DUST Model

Despite procrastination being rooted in time inconsistency, our emotions also exacerbate the issue.

DUST is a simple method to identify the emotions triggering procrastination:

Difficult – Challenging tasks lead to procrastination. This usually happens when you lack confidence or skill.

Unclear – Unclear tasks make it harder to start work. This is because you haven’t given yourself a precise outcome to work for.

Scary – Fear is a massive contributor to procrastination. Our brains are designed to keep us safe, so they will use procrastination to keep us in our comfort zone. 

Tedious – Some tasks we procrastinate on because they are boring necessities. They don’t bring any joy or pleasure, but they have to get done—like filling out a spreadsheet at work.

“Putting off an easy thing makes it hard, and putting off a hard one makes it impossible.” – George H. Lorimer

How to Overcome Procrastination

Since our present self isn’t motivated by long-term benefits, we need to move future rewards and punishments to the present.  

That’s exactly what happens when you put off a project until the last minute. You feel a little anxiety leading up to the deadline, but not enough to do anything about it. Then, suddenly, the day before the deadline, the future consequences become a present concern. So you write the report right before it’s due.

In that scenario, the report was no longer a goal of the future self. It became a duty of the present self. 

So to stop procrastinating, we have to make it easy for the present self to feel motivated and get started. These are two methods that do just that:

Measure Something

It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to your goal. A great way to make tasks measurable is by using visual cues—like the Paper Clip Strategy.

Let’s say you have to make 100 sales calls in a day. To use the Paper Clip Strategy, you start with two jars; an empty one, and one with 100 paper clips. You transfer one paperclip to the empty jar for each call you make until you’re done. 

Visual cues work because of the Endowed Progress Effect—people become motivated when they see their progress towards a goal. Seeing your progress triggers your next productive action and gives you a short-term target.

Chunking

The most frustrating tasks are the ones that take many days to finish—like writing a report. You can spend all day working and have nothing but an unfinished project to show for it. It’s the exact type of work that induces procrastination.

An excellent technique for overcoming that hopeless feeling is Chunking. It’s when you split your large task into multiple smaller chunks. 

An example of chunking is the 15-minute routine author Anthony Trollope used. Rather than tracking his progress by the completion of chapters or books, he measured it in 15-minute increments. Every 15-minutes, he would write 250 words. His strategy gave him short-term achievements while contributing to the large task of writing a book.

Creating tiny milestones makes it less daunting to start tasks and gives you more momentum while working. It motivates your present self and contributes to your future self’s goal.

Address the DUST Model

To lessen our emotions’ impact on procrastination, we can use the following solutions to address the DUST Model. These aren’t groundbreaking ideas, but they serve as a healthy reminder to take action when you’re facing these emotions (rather than suffer through them).

Difficult – If your task is challenging, giving yourself lots of time to finish is one of the most helpful things you can do. Use this extra time to learn the necessary skills and create a proper plan of action. Doing so will also give you an increase in confidence.

Unclear – When your to-do list is so unclear it gives you analysis paralysis, you need to define a clear starting point and end goal. It’s essential to make sure the task itself is actionable and can be finished. For example, instead of saying “Prepare for presentation”, say “Record myself presenting so I can get feedback on Tuesday”. This small change gives you a physical action you can complete.

Scary – When your fears prevent you from moving forward with a task, Removing the Ambiguity is one of the best techniques to follow

Author Tim Ferriss explains this technique in The 4-Hour Work Week. He takes what he’s afraid of and describes every possible outcome (positives and negatives). Then he measures each potential outcome on a scale of one to ten. One being no impact, ten being permanently life-changing. 

By doing this, he realized most of what he feared were temporary three’s and four’s, and all the positive outcomes were eights and nines. Meaning he’d be giving up a life-changing opportunity, because of potential discomfort.

Tedious – When a task’s nature is boring and tedious, the best solution is to create an enjoyable environment or give yourself an incentive. The key here is adding as much joy as possible.

For example, if you have to fill out a spreadsheet at work, can you listen to music or a podcast? Or make a deal with yourself that every 30-minutes, you’ll take a break to walk or scroll through social media.

Procrastination forces most people to endure life. They sit, suffer, and pass through it—surrendering their opportunity to live it. I hope this guide helps you overcome procrastination so you can create the life you want.

Treat Thompson pursues personal growth and shares what he learns in his writing. On his personal blog you can read his array of pieces on the art of living. If you're someone who wants consistent self-improvement in life, you may enjoy his newsletter—The Steady Fella Newsletter. Readers build towards the life they want with the timeless insights on productivity, philosophy, happiness, and life twice a month.

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Life

Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.

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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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Life

5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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Life

3 Simple Steps to Cultivate Courage and Create a Life of Meaning

we cultivate meaning in our lives when we pursue our calling

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Our deepest human desire is to cultivate meaning in our lives. Our deepest human need is to survive. (more…)

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Life

Grit: The Key to Your Ultimate Greatness

Grit is an overlooked aspect of success, but it plays a critical role.

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A grit mindset is an essential key to your greatness. It’s what separates those who achieve their goals from those who give up and never reach their potential. It’s also the difference between success and failure, happiness and misery. If you want to be great and achieve your dreams, then you need grit. Luckily, it’s something that can be learned. Please keep reading to learn more about grit and discover four ways to develop it. (more…)

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