Procrastination (Delaying): definition, causes and how to get rid of it


Procrastination: definition, causes and how to get rid of it

Filling in the tax return? No need to be in a hurry! Make an appointment with the dentist? Tomorrow, promise ! If you too are the type to postpone your obligations, then you are one of the procrastinators. A trend that even has its place on the calendar, through the celebration of World Procrastination Day on March 25.

Procrastination, the art of procrastinating. What is procrastination?

The term procrastination comes from the Latin pro “forward” and crastinus “tomorrow” and refers to the tendency to put off until tomorrow actions that can be done today. This word has long been unknown to the general public, and was even the most searched definition on Google in 2018!

The most famous example of procrastination remains the painting entitled “Abigail Smith Adams”, commissioned from the American portrait painter Gilbert Stuart, who postponed its completion for… 15 years!

The origin of World Procrastination Day

World Procrastination Day was created in 2010 by a French publisher, David d’Equainville, also author of the “Manifesto of March 25 against the tyranny of hyper-emergency”.

The goal according to him? De-dramatize the tendency to postpone certain tasks until tomorrow and highlight the benefits of procrastination.

For d’Equainville, this is not a bad thing, but rather a solution to manage the stress generated by an increasingly time-consuming and fast-paced society. And the day of procrastination wants to be global, because this tendency would be inherent in any society according to the writer.

More prosaically, behind the establishment of procrastination day also hides the promotion of the French edition of the book “Tomorrow is good too”. Written by German authors Kathrin Passig and Sascha Lobo and a real publishing success, it too praises “positive” procrastination.

The advantages and benefits of procrastination

Procrastinate without feeling guilty and leave a little room for laziness, this is the vocation of World Procrastination Day. Delaying the time to perform certain activities without feeling guilty can indeed have positive consequences on your morale.

By procrastinating, you may realize that some tasks are actually much less essential than you first imagined.

For example, there is no need to be overwhelmed by stress if you postpone cleaning for a week. The latter will be just a little longer. Likewise, that presentation that you can’t finish could very well find its conclusion during a twenty-minute meditation session or a nap.

What are the causes of procrastination?

Most psychologists and doctors agree that procrastination could be caused by a lack of confidence, low self-esteem or even difficulty concentrating, fear of failure or perfectionism. Faced with an action to be performed, a procrastinator may also consider that it is too painful and will not bring her / him any satisfaction.

Different studies suggest a possible causal link between procrastination and the following disorders and behaviors: anxiety, low self-esteem, perfectionism, boredom and apathy, as well as impulsivity.

Other factors can also be associated with procrastination: fear of failure or difficulty, fear of success, lack of motivation or difficulty concentrating, professional overwork (burn-out). Lack of immediate pleasure and reward can also be a factor.

Is procrastination a disease?

Procrastination is not a disease. It is a term mainly used in psychology to refer to this behavior. Moreover, most human beings, children and adults, have already found themselves in a situation where they have procrastinated.

However, this kind of behaviour can be a symptom of other psychological disorders such as anxiety. It can also be a source of stress or guilt, so many penalizing emotions in everyday life.

How to get rid of procrastination?

To get rid of procrastination, it is possible to turn to a psychologist. This professional will accompany you in your approach to stop putting off important things and thus better manage your time. Here are 5 tips that you can try:

  • Make to-do lists
  • Set achievable goals
  • Associate painful task and reward
  • Set aside time for relaxation
  • Create optimal conditions for concentrating (calm, solitude, etc.).

What is the opposite of procrastination?

The opposite of procrastination is precrastination. It is a tendency to do everything right away even what is not important or what can wait. A precrastinator likes to measure the number of tasks he has accomplished by checking off actions in a list, for example.

However, he is often faced with the feeling of being overwhelmed, of not having enough time. Like procrastination, precrastination is then a source of stress because of poor time management.

What do you call a person who puts things off?

A person who procrastinates is called a procrastinator. In the feminine, we can use the term procrastinator.

This behaviour concerns all human beings to very different degrees and more or less troublesome in everyday life. To evoke this behavior, there is also a world day of procrastination on March 25 each year. Read also: World Day | List of International Days and Weeks

Anatomy would explain procrastination

Good news for unrepentant procrastinators, it is now possible to blame your brain to explain this tendency to always put everything off until tomorrow. A team of German researchers has indeed published work in this direction in the very serious journal Psychological Science.

Two areas of the brain are involved in decision-making and the carrying out (or not) of an action: the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex. The first warns us of the harmful consequences of certain actions or abstentions. The second helps us select the actions to take by prioritizing them and removing the emotions that could invade us.

Read also: Part of the Brain Controls Language and Speech | Do You Know Them?

The team therefore compared the activity of these two areas in experienced procrastinators and other people who rather take on tasks head-on. To determine whether the 264 participants belonged to one category rather than another, the researchers subjected them to a questionnaire measuring their procrastination tendency. The activity of the brain areas was then observed by MRI.

It appears from this research that those who tend to procrastinate have a more developed amygdala than others. As a result, they will better perceive the negative implications of their actions, while finding it difficult to select which ones to take. Brain stimulation could decrease the tendency to procrastinate.

Sources: PinterPandai, Very Well Mind, The New York Times, Mind Tools

Photo credit: Adroit Customs / Pixabay

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