I'm a 20-year-old male who cannot complete any task on time. I always leave my work for the night before the submission date and when the time finally comes to do it, I get stressed and anxious. I then become hard on myself, regretting why I hadn’t started earlier. I tell myself that I won't repeat this mistake again. But then the same thing happens with other deadlines. I am stuck in a cycle of procrastination. What should I do? - P.S.
Answer by Kapil Sharma, Counselor at HUDEC Nepal
You being aware of your habit and acknowledging it is a good thing. So this is the perfect time to work on it.
Procrastination is a form of short-term stress relief for you right now. You may not be a procrastinator by personality. Perhaps you just have a habit of starting your work late.
First, we need to figure out the reason behind this habit of yours. Reflect on why you’re doing this. Do you procrastinate on particular tasks or in all tasks?
Normally, the cycle starts with you getting a new task. You may then feel a sense of discomfort, perhaps due to a lack of self-esteem or motivation. Fear of mistakes or perfectionism could also be the reason. In some cases, people feel they need to do their best and they are not quite ready to tackle the assigned work just yet. So they leave it for another day, thus starting to procrastinate. And this cycle keeps repeating for other works as well.
When a person becomes a habitual procrastinator, they develop an aversion to their work, which then leads to avoidance. Avoiding these tasks offers them temporary relief, but will eventually raise their stress levels when it dawns on them that there is so much to accomplish in so little time.
When you realize why you’re procrastinating, you will be able to figure out how to get out of it too, what habits to learn, and what to change.
One thing to remember is that big work needs big motivation, and small work needs small motivation. For a task as simple as doing the dishes, if you have a sink full of dirty dishes and no motivation to wash them, you can divide it into smaller tasks. Maybe just clean a plate and a bowl now and then do something else. Come back after some time to do the rest. In no time, you will have washed all the dishes without even realizing it.
Looking at the end goal or thinking about what you will achieve after doing certain work can help you get that motivation, be it big or small.