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A guide to... the P word (TW procrastination)

AidanAidan Clever idiotPosts: 2,710 Boards Champion

What is procrastination? 

Procrastination is putting off something that needs to be done, and usually doing it at the last minute. It comes from the Latin prōcrāstināre meaning ‘to put off until tomorrow’. 


Why do we procrastinate? 

We procrastinate to avoid negative emotions. If something makes us feel stressed, or bored, or confused etc- we won’t do it and we’ll promise ourselves we’ll do it later. We know it’s going to have bad consequences, and that we’ll just have to experience these negative emotions later anyway- but we still do it.  

 

Say that again, but slower 

In your head, a fight breaks out between a short-term mood boost, and achieving your long-term goals. 
And the short-term mood boost wins! 

 

But, if procrastination is bad- why does the short-term mood boost win? 

Our brains are hardwired to work in the short-term. To our caveman brain it’s more important to think about where dinner is coming from today, than to think about what we’re going to munch on in 5 years’ time. 
 
On a neural level, our brain thinks of our future selves more like a stranger than as the same person as us. Our poor brain is trying to help, it thinks we’re putting off our stuff for someone else to do! 

 

Is reading this procrastinating? 

Probably, but I know that making this was definitely procrastinating!

 

How do we stop procrastinating? 

  • Accept that it will not get easier the longer you leave it. Think about the dread it’s making you feel now, and think about how that dread would be worse if you had one less day to finish it. 
  • Throw out perfectionism. Something okay you’ve actually done, is better than something perfect that’s still in your head. 
  • Just start! Starting is the hard part, when you’ve started the rest will come easier. 
  • Make a draft or a plan. This helps you get started start, and helps you break big scary tasks into little manageable ones. 
  • Reward yourself. If you would usually play video games instead of doing your coursework, spend the day doing coursework- and reward yourself with some animal crossing or some world of tanks or whatever in the evening. 
  • Put off fun things! This sounds daft, but when you’re incredibly bored and you’re not allowed to do fun things, you’ll be surprised how low you’ll stoop to keep yourself busy. You might even do some work! Again, reward yourself with the fun things at the end of the day. Eventually this will trick your brain into wanting to do your work in anticipation of a reward! 
  • Routine! Try to work at the same time every day, and after a while your brain will go into work mode at this time every day.

And google! If these tips don't help you, find something that will!

 

I need help now 

-What would you rather be doing instead?- promise yourself you will reward yourself with that later, after you’ve done some work.
-What is going to distract you? Remove those distractions.
-If you don’t already have one- set yourself a deadline!
-If at any point during your work you’re stuck- ask for help! 

Now, for the work that you don’t want to do:
-Read into the details, figure out everything you need to do
-Make a quick plan of how it’s going to be laid out
-Break it into smaller chunks
-Make a quick draft of each chunk, it doesn’t have to be sentences yet, it can just be bullet points or ideas
-Improve each draft one at a time 
-Stick the chunks back together

Et voila! You’ve tricked yourself into doing some work! 

 

I don’t suppose you have a mnemonic? 

Indeed I do! 
 
Read the question 
Plan the layout 
Break it up 
Draft the bits 
Improve the bits 
 
Read 
Plan 
Break 
Draft 
Improve 
 
Ruthless 
Pinocchio 
Batters 
Dodgy 
Infants 
 
Or make your own steps and mnemonics! 

 

Am I lazy? 

You are not lazy. Procrastination is common, even natural- just very inconvenient! 
 
Your brain is just trying to avoid negative emotions, which really is quite sweet of it. But its plan of putting stuff off doesn’t work, so get it told! 

 

You mentioned negative emotions? 

I did! Procrastination is the brain’s attempt at managing negative emotions like stress, boredom, and confusion... by putting them off for now for future you to have to go through again later. 
 
You can beat your brain’s automatic response to procrastinate by learning how to manage these negative emotions. 

 

Ahhhhh I’m sooo stressssssed 

This is where my expertise ends, but there is lots of stuff you can read on the tinterwebs about how to manage stress: 
 
10 stress busters 
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/reduce-stress/ 
Student stress 
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/student-stress/ 

 

Do you have cute animal pictures for me for reading the whole thing again. Aidan? 

But of course! 





"Do, or do not, there is no try" <(•.•)>              
EleanorLiamMikePoppyBStarlight

Comments

  • EleanorEleanor Living the Zen life 🧘🏼‍♀️ Posts: 1,577 Extreme Poster
    I love this :joy:
    Alis propriis volat 
    Aidan
  • independent_independent_ Resident Coffee Addict ScotlandPosts: 5,367 Part of The Furniture
    I love this @Aidan, I’m procrastinating right this second haha.
    “Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.”
    Aidan
  • AidanAidan Clever idiot Posts: 2,710 Boards Champion
    I love this @Aidan, I’m procrastinating right this second haha.
    There are worse places to procrastinate ;)

    I know I only get an audience for the obligatory cute animals :joy:
    "Do, or do not, there is no try" <(•.•)>              
    independent_Starlight
  • independent_independent_ Resident Coffee Addict ScotlandPosts: 5,367 Part of The Furniture
    Aidan said:
    I love this @Aidan, I’m procrastinating right this second haha.
    There are worse places to procrastinate ;)

    I know I only get an audience for the obligatory cute animals :joy:
    Chat and the boards are fantastic for us procrastinators @[email protected].

    But in all seriousness I’m still procrastinating so really needed to read this haha
    “Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.”
    AidanStarlight
  • AidanAidan Clever idiot Posts: 2,710 Boards Champion
    As an added bonus, I just wanted to cover something else that I know is a reason a lot of us procrastinate:

    The fear that we’ll be a failure 

    If we’re afraid we might fail at something- we won’t want to do it. It’s natural to not want to fail. But paradoxically, if you don't do something because you think you'll fail at it- you will fail at it.


    Why's this?

    Again, our brain is wired for the short-term. It also thinks of future-you more like a stranger, than as yourself. So your brain is putting off something it doesn't want to do because it thinks it'll fail, for somebody else to do.

     

    Have you thought about this? 

    Failing is natural, everyone fails at something. Think at things you are good at today, when you started did you used to fail at it? Of course you did, but you are good at it today so clearly you didn't let it stop you!

    Failure isn’t in your character- failure is simply a feedback that a tactic isn’t working. Think about this: the most successful people in the world have failed many, many, many times.


    "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the Fear of Failure."
    "Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm."


    Where to next?

    Only you know the best way to help you, but here's a few starting points if you don't know where to turn next:


    Wikihow has a page here on how to overcome the fear of failure

    And JK Rowling has done a TED talk on failure:


    And here's a little something for making it to the end!



    "Do, or do not, there is no try" <(•.•)>              
  • StarlightStarlight 💃danceaholic🩰 Posts: 1,386 Wise Owl
    Love this! :lol: I often get so far into procrastinating I forget I’m procrastinating until I realise I was supposed to finish that really important thing by the end of the day and it’s 11:55 pm :joy: 
    There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait!

    * Shine like the star you are! *
    Aidan
  • AidanAidan Clever idiot Posts: 2,710 Boards Champion
    I'm glad you like it!

    I realise asking a master procrastinator to read a wall of text is a lot :joy:  so I may make a shorter and more to-the-point thread later with some short practical tips on beating procrastination!
    "Do, or do not, there is no try" <(•.•)>              
    Starlight
  • AidanAidan Clever idiot Posts: 2,710 Boards Champion
    "Do, or do not, there is no try" <(•.•)>              
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