Personal Finance

Rein in procrastination for renewed vigour in 2022

proc
scottbellows

Summary

  • Procrastination carries numerous negative consequences both professionally and personally.
  • Business Talk in the Business Daily has highlighted in the past year mountains of recent research that delves into the latest science behind procrastination and how to overcome the struggle in jobs and life.
  • Lower procrastination is associated with greater expressive suppression of negative feelings.

Across the Republic of Kenya, millions of us scuffle, tussle, and battle with procrastination. Procrastinators often delay accomplishing tasks by putting off working on assignments, projects, and responsibilities until later in time.

Procrastination carries numerous negative consequences both professionally and personally. Colleagues get fed up with broken promises and missed deadlines. Family and friends feel exacerbated by the procrastinator’s unreliability.

Business Talk in the Business Daily has highlighted in the past year mountains of recent research that delves into the latest science behind procrastination and how to overcome the struggle in jobs and life. In brief, historically the world largely assumed that those afflicted with procrastination struggles suffered from poor time management skills.

Essentially the inability to properly and effectively schedule adequate blocks of time to accomplish tasks. However, more recent scientific discoveries uncovered that more frequently the root causes of procrastination revolve around the disdain for and avoidance of the unpleasantness perceived in certain tasks.

Delaying tactics basically suppress the negative feelings about the chore or labor. The postponing and deferring provide the procrastinator with brief momentary respite from the repulsiveness of the task or responsibility.

Please take a moment and complete the brief Sheffield University abbreviated General Procrastination Scale to ascertain your level of procrastination.

After all the following nine statements, assign a number value to each one as to how well you think the particular statement applies to you with 1 = False; 2 = Not usually true for me; 3 = Sometimes false/true for me; 4 = Mostly true for me; 5 = True of me.

I often find myself performing tasks that I had intended to do days before. Even with jobs that require little else except sitting down and doing them, I find they seldom get done for days. I generally delay before starting work I have to do. In preparing for some deadlines, I often waste time by doing other things.

I rarely have a task finished sooner than necessary. I usually buy even an essential item at the last minute. I seldom accomplish all the things I plan to do in a day. I am continually saying I’ll do it tomorrow. I rarely take care of all the tasks I have to do before I settle down and relax for the evening.

Then take each of your nine different assigned statement values and total them. If you scored higher than 31, then you likely struggle with substantial procrastination difficulty. Sadly, procrastination can often result in a negative spiral. Following delays and delays, then someone often feels guilty and saddened by their inability to work on or finish a task.

The negative feelings then perpetuate procrastination further as the procrastinator seeks to postpone tasks even longer to feel relief from the negative emotions about the tasks compounded from the earlier delay guilt. They keep seeking more and more relief.

But exciting new research just published uncovers which area of the brain is involved in procrastination decisions and how to help moderate the stalling.

Via MRI scans of procrastinators and non-procrastinators, scientists Junyu Wang, Rong Zhang, and Tingyong Feng found that the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex area of the brain contained more grey matter in those who were able to suppress their expression of negative emotions who then, in turn, procrastinated less.

In short, lower procrastination is associated with greater expressive suppression of negative feelings.

Self-compassion

Psychiatrist Grant Brenner argues that learning how to utilise self-compassion could also moderate feelings that lead to procrastination. He advises that we should apply forgiveness, sympathy, and gentleness to ourselves.

Recognise the need for kindness towards ourselves will help us better achieve our short-term emotional needs and medium to long-term goals. Self-compassion can assist to regulate and suppress harmful emotions and lead to less procrastination.

Lower levels of delaying and putting things off will then enhance our health, career, and interpersonal relationships.

The above research is in line with Dana Lassri and Ateret Gewirtz-Meydan’s findings that self-compassion by extending kindness to oneself correlated with reduced mental health issues from self-criticism.

So, standing on solid scientific founding, let us millions of Kenyans who suffer from stalling, delays, and postponing, enter 2022 with new vigour and determination to organise ourselves and achieve our goals with dramatically less procrastination.

Dr Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor