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Procrastination and The Art of Self-Motivation

Procrastination and The Art of Self-Motivation

There hasn't been a time when procrastination hasn't been at the helm of civilization. 17 th Century literature have been chalk full of examples of "sinning for delaying", and "tilling the land before the Nile floods". Laziness, or indeterminate laziness can be confused for procrastination, but it cuts much deeper. It's the actual act of delaying something. Not just being lazy, but delaying a particular thing that gives you much stress or future remorse. It's like saying - "I have to go on a diet, but I'll do it tomorrow". It's also not about time-management or being late to perform a specific act, or even the idea of "better under pressure". Most students procrastinate on homework , and most adults on their deadlines. In India, the problem is much worse, with increasing pressure from parents, society and bosses, and additional stress from loud traffic, pollution, lack of sleep and poor nutrition habits.

Our great ancestors have procrastinated just as much as we do right now, but we're just more honest about it. Is there anything good about it? Dr. Joe Ferrari, who has published more research on procrastination than anyone else in psychology, does not think that there is any upside to procrastination, and he's right. An interesting piece of research by Dr. Pychyl , noticed the role of mood and emotions on procrastination and solidified that concept with a study published in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality in 2000. His research team gave 45 students a pager and tracked them for 5 days leading up to a school deadline. Eight times a day, when the pager beeped, the test participants reported their level of procrastination as well as their emotional state. As the tasks became difficult and stressful, the students put them off for more pleasant activities. They also reported high levels of guilt — a sign that beneath relief there was a lingering dread about the work set aside.

There isn't one single cause of procrastination , but there is a sense of a trigger-response mechanism that kicks in when you have a stressful situation you're dealing with. Infact, you may not even know that you're stressed in the first place, because your mind is so good at deferring negative feelings . Avoid, rather than deal with it. You feel this feeling when you don't trust your instincts, and your brain tries to find "motivation or inspiration", as you laze around on YouTube or Instagram. There is an immense power in you that you don't know about and you give up on your confident self and defer responsibility onto another person or thing. Whether that person is a parent, sibling, spouse or that thing is failure, self-respect or negotiations. You want to avoid tough situations.

Well it's not as simple as saying - "Oh face your problems head on", as if it was that easy then everyone would be doing it all the time. Actually, here is the secret of life in an essence. It's the art of doing whatever you want to do, however you want to do it. If you want to finish that project, do it your way (even if you think it's wrong). If you are avoiding a tough conversation, do it your way (now), even if you think things will get messy in the end. You'd rather express than keep it all inside. Its' not a simple advice, but a series of changes that you take steps to - with satisfaction as the end factor.

Procrastination can feel like thousand pounds, and chronic procrastination may lead to depression or depression like symptoms. Feelings of wasting away and feeling guilty about it. That's why we like people who are free and desire that freedom from the inside. We love the feeling of flying but don't trust our abilities to spread our wings because we're unaware of our own potential.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) research has proven that with a bit of stimulation in the human brain, the potential can be magnanimous ( Paulus, 2011 ). You can naturally gain these advantages by being un-stuck in that unpleasant situation.

Often, we end up doubting ourselves when we should rather be realizing our potential here and now. We are connected to our task and we are doing it because we want to, not because someone has told us do to so against our best intelligence. When we do face adversities, we must go over them with calm and appreciation and face whatever we have to do head on with happiness. We can complete a task with a frown on our face or a resting-bitch-face, or we can smile and literally gain the benefits of oxytocin to complete our task faster.

In the end, however, procrastination comes down to how we are positioned in our own society . Whether we live in a helpful one that's caring and considerate to what we want to do. Or it's one driven with pure goals of power, money and jealousy around achieving the things we want to do. You never know - maybe its happiness or love that we truly desire instead of "just getting it done".

(Also read: 'Eat A Live Frog First Thing In The Morning' To Improve Productivity )

(Image Credit: Thinkstock)

( About the Author : This article was contributed by Sanchit Khera , a life coach and a motivational speaker)

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