Chronic Procrastination: Build These 9 Habits To Overcome It

Do you ever find yourself delaying important tasks simply by prioritizing other, less meaningful tasks?

We can relate x infinity.

In some cases, the root of procrastination is poor time management.

If you nurture this habit consistently, it can subsequently lead to a life of missed opportunities, late submissions, increased workload, and overall resentment.

Or should we say…the very definition of chronic procrastination.

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What Is Chronic Procrastination?

The art of procrastination has led many to believe we delay urgent matters because we trick ourselves into thinking we work better under stress and time constraints.

The truth? Procrastinating only alleviates the inevitable productivity we rid ourselves of.

All procrastination roads lead to a chain of stress, struggle, self-sabotage, and anxiety.

Ask Yourself: Is That Really the Kind of Life You Want to Live?

Our brain tends to fool us into thinking that procrastination is like a form of instant gratification.

True enough, procrastination does reward us with temporary relief. But how much do we really get out of it?

All THAT goes away quickly once our thoughts fixate back on the problem still being there, only now with less time to solve.

Chronic procrastination is the REPETITION of small, unassuming procrastinations that affect every aspect of your professional and personal life.

Fast Fact: Laziness isn’t always the main source of procrastination habit.

Though some may revert their attention to Netflix shows instead of studying for a test, others could be doing the groceries in an effort to avoid studying for the test.

One lazy action and one counterproductive action, both resulting in procrastination.

The Result?

The consequences of procrastinating open you to feelings of low self-esteem, which then triggers your fear of failure, criticism, or rejection.

It can even affect your confidence the next time you address certain tasks.

And that’s not just it.

Chronic procrastination may be the cause of underlying issues such as adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and depression.

Research shows that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and depression could develop into more unhealthy things such as:

  • Gambling
  • Alcoholism
  • Other addictive behaviors

Luckily, as with any habit, chronic procrastination can be unlearned.

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Causes: The Logic Behind Procrastination

Why do we procrastinate and continue to do so despite knowing its effects?

Procrastination often starts when our emotions dictate our actions towards a task. It could be the fear, boredom, or resentment that makes us struggle.

Like what was mentioned earlier, we distract ourselves to avoid the task because we feel a sense of temporary relief.

That short-term relief only results in more stress due to the time you now wasted on unimportant matters. The guilty feeling after can contribute to a loop of even more procrastination.

Get ready for the truth…

Procrastination is rooted in our false belief in ourselves. Again, it is not a mental health issue, but possibly a sign of underlying mental health issues, such as:

Low Self-Esteem

The anxiety people get from failure is what leads people to simply avoid making an effort altogether. We make the opportunity unavailable for us so as to not encourage more feelings of disappointment.

Once we manifest our inability to do a task, we lead ourselves into thinking that we are totally incapable of doing it at all.

It creates a pattern of wiring our brains to believe that we can’t fail if we never bothered trying.

What does this look like inside?

  • We constantly harness false beliefs within ourselves.
  • It sucks us into a black hole that gets more and more difficult to get out of as you bury yourself in these imaginary incapabilities.
  • Insecurities become easier to project because we made the decision of letting them linger in the first place.

Your Current Self & Future Self

What makes you think you’ll be a better person tomorrow if you can’t even get started on what you need to do today?

Our future self is always a reflection of the progress and development we have made in our past and current self.

People often make the mistake of building a weak foundation because WE THINK our future selves will hold it together for us.

This could be true. But ask yourself these questions first:

  • Why go that route when you can already be better now?
  • Why wait for your future self to work hard when you are just as capable now?

We have no control over our future but we do have control over our current self. As cliche as it sounds, NOW is always the best time to take action.

When the act of procrastinating is done, we often sympathize with ourselves in an effort to not learn from our procrastinating ways.

This might seem comforting at first, but it’s where we are gravely mistaken: it only rids of an opportunity to grow out of not taking action.

This does not necessarily mean sulking and feeling guilty over it. It simply means you are self-aware and have chosen to be accountable and accepting of what has been done.

Symptoms: Who Is The Chronic Procrastinator?

Do you think you may be a candidate for chronic procrastination? Here are a few signs that indicate you may be one:

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You Consistently Show Up Late to Your Commitments

A chronic procrastinator has the tendency to overestimate the amount of time he or she has to fulfill tasks or show up to things.

In effect, they also lack the time management skills needed to work efficiently and put things in order.

Your To-Do List Only Gets Longer

If you feel like your to-do list never runs out of boxes to tick, that may be because you let your work pile up from all your procrastinating.

Yes, a to-do list does give that sense of organization. And nothing is more satisfying than ticking the boxes and ridding yourself of all those tasks.

The problem, however, lies in the failure to prioritize the work that needs to be done.

And the more you don’t get done, the more your tasks increase. The to-do list then ends up giving you anxiety rather than fulfillment every time you check it.

You Always Do the Non-Essential Work First

Something a procrastinator does is constantly getting stuff done, but never the right stuff first.

A chronic procrastinator tricks one’s self into thinking that even though it isn’t the most urgent task, it’s still a task. Therefore, it still makes the person productive.

Researchers state that social media is one of the biggest outlets for procrastination.

Be mindful the next time you catch yourself mindlessly watching Instagram stories when you could be finishing your project instead.

Unfamiliar Territory Intimidates You Easily

Chronic procrastinators feel uneasy when presented with something new. As a result, you drown yourself in Youtube videos about tutorials you don’t even need to know about

The unfamiliar work tends to overwhelm you to the point wherein you would rather put it off as if it never existed.

Yes, you may feel better for a while, but the anxiety is bound to creep in again when you know that the task still needs to be done.

You Find Change and Transitions Difficult

When you finally accomplish something for work, do you end up having difficulty jumping to the next task?

Chronic procrastinators often feel like taking time with things especially after finishing one thing.

Though taking a break is totally acceptable, it can also trigger a gap in your performance when you overextend your break.

You Can’t Function Normally or Efficiently

Procrastination has the power to affect your social life.

All the baggage you carry due to procrastination can easily affect how you see yourself. And this subsequently leads to a lack of confidence in social settings.

In some cases, procrastinators may appear to be oblivious to responsibilities because they instead choose to enjoy life.

In reality, there are unsettling feelings that go on in the mind. Chronic procrastinators will do anything but the necessary to distract themselves from it.

9 Self-Awareness Habits To Overcome Chronic Procrastination

Get started on your journey towards overcoming procrastination.

Redirect your energy, shift your thinking, and improve your overall mood through these tips:

Get Down To The Root Cause

Everyone has their own fears, insecurities, and powerful emotions taking over thoughts every now and then.

Something that differentiates a chronic procrastinator is the inability to understand why his or her mind processes things that way.

To know the root cause, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What emotions do I feel whenever I attempt to sort out the things I need to do but don’t want to do?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if I fail to do the task?
  • What fears will come to life when I start, do, or finish the task?
  • Has anything happened in the past that causes me to hold back?

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Stop Avoiding and Start Rewarding Yourself

This is almost like a reverse procrastination process. Here, you delay the gratification and use it as motivation to finish your work more efficiently.

A tendency for procrastinators is to avoid the problem by doing something else to feel better. Approach this habit by telling yourself that the reward will come after the problem is solved.

That way, you can proceed to your reward knowing it has been worked for. Trust me when I say it will feel more fulfilling now that the lingering self-doubt is gone.

Practice Self-Compassion

Everyone has their mental battles.

And everyone has a different way of fighting them too.

But in order to take the next step into improvement, you have to learn how to forgive yourself for your old ways.

Just like procrastination, self-compassion takes time to build as well. So be patient with yourself.

Don’t feel bad about your progress because it might just lead to giving into old ways.

Progress, whether big or small, is progress. Avoid seeing yourself as a failure by analyzing your life and creating a plan to do better next time.

Here’s a mantra you can start with: progress is better than perfection.

Shift Your Mindset

Individuals perceive life through different lenses, and our minds are what control our responses to these perceptions.

You could be presented with the same project as the person next to you and still feel more anxious compared to the other because of how you perceived the situation.

If you condition your mind to think you’re capable of getting things done, you then have the confidence to pursue things without hesitation.

Communicate to yourself in an optimistic manner and feel your anxiety slowly fade away. This does not mean fooling yourself into thinking that it’s an easy project.

It means knowing the difficulty yet still believing you are capable of doing it.

Reevaluate Your Energy

Once you change your way of thinking, you project a more positive environment for your energy to act upon.

Remember that you will always feel more pain in regret over pain in procrastination. Try to also remember how procrastination might affect your mental health.

It also helps to ask yourself what you have to gain from overcoming chronic procrastination.

Break Down Your Project Into Components

There is always an overwhelming feeling that occurs before procrastination.

When you break down the project into steps or components, you simplify the process. Instead of perceiving it as one giant obligation, you now reduce it to a compilation of small, non-intimidating activities.

In return, it will feel like less of a burden to actually start doing.

And since you have rid yourself of the drama of overwhelm, you feel more than ready to move on to the next step. Then the next one. And then before you know it, the task is done!

For related articles on how to break down and segregate important and unimportant projects, click here.

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Appreciate The Small Wins

In relation to the habit mentioned above, learn to acknowledge the progress you make.

These wins can be as small as:

  • Focusing on something for 30 minutes straight
  • Finally confronting your parents about an issue
  • Starting your research
  • Not getting distracted by Instagram stories the whole afternoon

Procrastination becomes easier to overcome when you learn how to commend yourself. It will serve as a motivator so you can reap the benefits of it long-term.

Pressure Is Not The Enemy

The last thing people want is to feel humiliated by their lack of knowledge or preparation on a certain matter.

Use the pressure as fuel to avoid getting into that embarrassing situation. And overall, to avoid chronic procrastination.

It also helps to be open about your goals and deadlines to create more accountability within yourself.

When you make others aware of what you are meaning to accomplish, it sets you up for an expectation that you feel more obliged to fulfill.

Be Aware of Your Iceberg Beliefs

Iceberg beliefs are beliefs that have been subconsciously engraved in you from your past experiences, most especially during childhood.

Anything with phrases such as “I should” or “I must” is an indication of your iceberg thoughts.

This way of thinking can affect you more than you know. One example of an iceberg belief translated to procrastination is the sentence “I must ensure everything is perfect before I start.”.

This could mean making sure every pencil in your case is sharpened or waiting until your laptop is fully charged before you begin.

Seriously…that only adds to the suffering if you consistently think that way.

The amount of time you spent trying to make things perfect costs you time for the actual thing.

Change Perspectives & Improve Your Mental Health

Procrastination is something that does not change overnight.

Recognizing the indicators of your chronic procrastination will help you to reduce anything that nurtures the bad habit.

It can be a long and winding road, but it all starts with you and how you decide to perceive situations from here on out.

Above all, that’s what this journey towards overcoming chronic procrastination worth every mile and grain of sand you walk through.

Next time you catch yourself procrastinating again, recall the root cause of your actions and proceed to reform yourself into the other tips mentioned.

When you trust the process, you slowly become more productive at work, and happier with the time constraint you no longer have.

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Photo sourced from Getty Images

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