Nearly one in five of us are chronic procrastinators. Could hypnotherapy be the answer to help us stop idling, and get more proactive for good?
Procrastination. Who hasn’t been guilty of putting things off until the last minute? We all procrastinate from time to time, but why is that? Is it really due to laziness? And what could we be doing to instil healthier habits around all those little tasks we inevitably put off?
Why do we procrastinate?
The reasons behind why we procrastinate can vary significantly from person to person. Perhaps you always leave the laundry until the very last moment – the thought of all that folding and finding space to put everything away is your worst nightmare. Maybe you avoid sending in your expenses to work as the system feels overly complex, or it’s frustrating to find every single receipt so you put it off until the last minute.
Procrastination can often be confused with laziness or poor time management. However, procrastination is, by definition, an active process: you intentionally avoid a task, often doing other, smaller tasks while avoiding the one thing you just don’t want to do. When we procrastinate, we aren’t just putting something off, we’re doing so while knowing it’s against our better judgement (and often, that it will potentially cause us more problems further down the line).
One expert, Dr Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at University of Sheffield, said procrastination is “essentially irrational” in an interview with The New York Times. We know that it doesn’t make sense to do something that will cause us to experience negative consequences, and yet, by continuing to engage in a cycle of chronic procrastination, we know that we will experience more stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, and increased feelings of pressure. These, in turn, often create an outcome that is rushed, incomplete, past the deadline, or that may need to be redone entirely.
A 2013 study found that procrastination is, essentially, caused by our inability to self-regulate our negative thoughts or feelings around a task. These negative impressions can become attached to the idea of completing the task, leading to procrastination in the form of avoidance (‘I’ll do that later’), self-doubt (‘I’m not smart enough for this’), or even undertaking other tasks (‘I’ll just clean my desk before starting that report’).
Feelings of anxiety, resentment, boredom, frustration, and self-doubt can all lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety, self-blame, and lower self-esteem. Over time, avoiding a certain task can lead to these negative connotations growing, which can make even thinking about some of them feel stressful and overwhelming. In turn, this can lead us to avoid the tasks all over again, creating a cycle of chronic procrastination.
If you think you’re ready to take that next step in trying to overcome procrastination, it’s important to ask yourself: am I ready to change? Without the desire to change and improve, old bad habits are bound to return. Once you are ope