Procrastination is more than just Laziness

I have a design project that I have to submit in a few weeks (although its still far away, I’m the type of person who prefers to do tasks right away) and after starting it, I realize that my progress is slow. I thought its because that the deadline is still so far away and that I do not feel the need to rush. But, I began thinking about it differently after I watched this video of @evolveandbloom. (Fun fact: I created a Tiktok acc because of her. In Facebook, I saw a video compiling her best Tiktok vids and I created my own acc just to watch her other videos.)

Based on my actions, I would honestly say that I am procrastinating and that is why I progressed really slow. But from her video, I began to understand and rethink my perspective about procrastinating.

I’ve been hearing this a lot from my professors and a few of my classmates that the reason why people procrastinate is because of laziness. But there is so much more to procrastinating than just laziness.

I am reminded of what social psychologist Devon Price wrote in an article entitled Laziness Does Not Exist, “People do not choose to fail or disappoint. No one wants to feel incapable, apathetic, or ineffective. If you look at a person’s action (or inaction) and see only laziness, you are missing key details. There is always an explanation. There are always barriers. Just because you can’t see them or don’t view them as legitimate, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Look harder.”

Going back to my design project, the reason why I procrastinate or progress slowly (than what I hoped for) is because I don’t know what to do. The project that we have is a new topic and we haven’t even been able to discuss it. I’m just so lost that I do not know where to start. In other words, I’m avoiding negative emotions.

When I’m in the act of doing my project, the negative emotions are too much and they impede my progress.

Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote in an article, Procrastinate Much? Manage Your Emotions, Not Your Time, “The psychologists Timothy Pychyl and Fuschia Sirois have discovered that procrastination isn’t about avoiding work; it’s about avoiding negative emotions. We procrastinate when a task stirs up feelings like anxiety, confusion or boredom. And although it makes us feel better today, we end up feeling worse — and falling behind — tomorrow.”

And how do we deal with it? The answer is not better time-management.

“This means that if you want to procrastinate less, you don’t have to increase your work ethic or improve your time management.” Mr. Grant wrote. “You can instead focus on changing your habits around emotion management.

One thing that I practice (that I essentially works for me) is writing down what you want to make progress today. I cannot possibly complete the project in a day but I can complete small tasks of that project. Before I start working, I write down things that I want to accomplish for the day relating to the project and sticking to it. It helps me to reduce thinking about the project as a whole or the more daunting tasks far ahead.

My negative emotions are holding me back and they gradually stop once my head is on a task that is not too hard but not too easy. Another tips are to gamify the task and give yourself a deadline (I use this a lot and it really works).

Basically, Parkinson’s Law. I give myself like an hour (I have a timer beside me) to finish a task and sometimes, I went overboard for a couple of minutes but the vital thing about it is it gets you to work and to progress at it quickly because you have a deadline to meet.

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