Procrastination is really annoying. I have found myself falling into it’s trap big time this week and it’s been driving me crazy. Procrastination is the act of prioritising less urgent and more pleasurable tasks over the more important stuff that needs to be accomplished. Procrastination can arise out of habit or be intentional, it involves delaying starting or finishing a task despite the negative consequences it could bring.
For me, procrastination rears its ugly head when I fear doing something, because I’ve set myself unreasonable expectations, because I’m experiencing negative emotions or because I haven’t really accepted that the task is important and therefore worthy of my time.
I have written a previous post about how in the past, perfectionism lead to my procrastination. I am learning to accept that nothing is perfect, that producing something is always better than nothing. However, despite this, I have found myself procrastinating all week and if I’m really honest, I think that this week’s procrastination has been down to feeling frustrated and irritable.
The problem with this cause of procrastination is that it sets up a positive feedback loop. I don’t want to work because I’m not in the mood, so I distract myself with other tasks. I then feel guilty for ‘wasting’ time and not really achieving anything then I feel worse and more anxious than I did I when I put off the task in the first place!
Here are some ways to deal with negative emotions and rid yourself of the subsequent procrastination:
1. Accept that they’re normal.
Experiencing negative emotions such as sadness, anger or fear is all a part of being human. I think that now, more than ever, we are made to feel bad about ourselves if we are not always bright, happy and cheerful but this is unrealistic. Understand that negative emotions have an evolutionary purpose that would have been essential for our survival and good health.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Everyone has good and bad days, the problem with life nowadays is that social media acts as a highlight reel, reminding you of how fantastic everyone is feeling and how great their lives are. This can make your negative emotions seem that bit worse, but don’t be fooled, everyone has down days, they are just a lot less inclined to share them on social media.
3. Listen and give yourself permission to feel your emotions.
What are they trying to tell you? By stopping and listening to negative emotions when they first arise you could potentially prevent them from getting louder. Allow yourself to feel the emotion. Trying to ignore them and shutting them out could, in the long term, make you feel worse.
4. Consider taking action.
If you feel sad, frustrated or annoyed about something you can change, perhaps it’s worth changing it? If a loved one said something that hurt you, talk to them about it. If you don’t like your job, consider looking for another and if you’re unhappy with your sedentary lifestyle, start walking more. The only caution I would like to add here is that making hasty decisions whilst experiencing intense emotions is probably not a good idea.
5. Forgive yourself for procrastinating and move on.
Like I said, feeling negative emotions is part of the shared human experience. If these emotions cause you to have an unproductive day or week, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind, show yourself forgiveness and let it go.