You’re supposed to leave for work in five minutes but you can’t because you’re unable to find the goddamned stapler. How do you staple the papers you just finished working on? What’s up with all the rush? It’s because the work was assigned three weeks ago by the boss and you pulled an all-nighter as you spent three whole weeks doing nothing but forgetting about the paper. It’s 08:15 on a Monday morning and you have to find the stapler.
Procrastination is a common cause of chaos in the lives of many young men and women, and the urge can originate at any situation, anytime if something we’re supposed to do even displays the slightest hint of ‘boring’ or ‘mundane’. No, the TV or the internet didn’t give birth to procrastination; the 800 BC Greek poet Hesiod had once written about “not putting your work off for tomorrow or the day after”.
Procrastination is in itself a paradox, an absurdity – we put off doing things with which we would be satisfied after completion and instead resort to momentary mood elevating agents like “one last episode” or “I’ll just post a picture. I swear not to go through my feed” but wind up getting hooked in the things we so easily give in to, finally postponing the task for tomorrow. We wake up the next day, follow the same pattern over again with a slightly higher expanse of guilt in our minds. Eventually, the feeling of guilt reaches its peak, and that’s when we carry out the mundane task which has been lingering in our to-do for two weeks.
Some people feel so guilty of procrastination that all they’ve left to do is sulk in the corner and carry on doing the things they’ve been doing for a long time, which is nothing. Research suggests that procrastination is one of the strongest forms of self-sabotage, slowly deteriorating one’s mental and physical health conditions. Failure to engage our body into physical activities can cause obesity and lower our dopamine levels (on top of this, obese people have low dopamine levels by default). Dopamine, being the “feel good hormone”, demands a paycheck in the form of physical activities like working out or getting things done in exchange for the motivation and smugness it provides us with.
Fresh research in psychology has illustrated a number of ill effects, mental and physical, especially in the youth. We often remorse over procrastination even though we’re supposed to be content and happy by the substitute we’ve settled down for. The burden of pushing a task further ahead in time adds up to the frustration and a habit of getting used to unreached goals is developed. All of this amounts to low self-esteem, self-doubt, stress, anxiety and even clinical depression. As emphasized in our previous article, the suicide rate in Sikkim and around is nearly triple than that of the whole subcontinent due to clinical depression. People from the North-eastern suburbs actually face this problem but cannot find help, due to various causes of their own. Procrastination is one of the thoroughfares that leads to clinical depression and doctors consider it as a symptom involved in the diagnosis of depression in their patients.
Feeling good and feeling guilty share the center point in our mind immediately after we make the decision of not completing the task we’re supposed to, which is a tremendous tug of war situation in the brain. The habit of procrastinating develops because even though we don’t feel so good postponing our work, we dive into alternations which, in turn, wipe away our commemoration of the errand for a short period of time. Thus, small amounts of dopamine are released every time we procrastinate, making us susceptible to getting addicted to procrastinating.
We often perceive the errand set in front of us as a tiring and useless chore, instead of envisioning it as an opportunity to experience and achieve. Procrastination is a dreadful habit which implicates exploitation of unearned leisure, making us feel terrible simply because of the fact that the luxury we so gladly enjoyed was in fact, unearned.
There are ways to fight this habit, even though it seems like another Herculean task, doing extra work to get more work done. Partaking and maintaining a substantial perspective is key to putting away bad habits into the past. No matter how massive these tasks might appear, they only seem to take the big burden off our shoulders once we start believing firmly that procrastination is self-harm and it is an enormous necessity to liberate oneself from this destructive habit.
- MODIFY/BREAK-DOWN YOUR TO-DO
Breaking down your to-do list so the task looks simpler than you’d imagined helps your mind in settling down and making firm decisions. Odds are that one will certainly complete the task in no time as a result of spending enough time with pen and paper, motivating him/her to accomplish the task. One starts seeing it as a piece of cake. In David Allen’s book entitled “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”, he highlights techniques to achieve a serene state of mind, which in turn results in getting things done.
- START WITH THE SMALLEST TASK
Mainly, the hardest thing to do for procrastinators is to start doing the work they’re supposed to do. Simply starting on the smallest task in hand can induce a sense of fluidity into our mind which can shove us into doing further work, eventually producing the outcome of completion of all the tasks in no time. By small, I mean literally the smallest task there is. If you have to do the laundry, start by getting off the couch. That is the first task done.
- PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Being mindful and patient in tough situations is a skill which requires a lot of effort and time to develop. Only practicing the art of patience makes a person more patient, and patience fosters in him the capacity of effective and fruitful decision making. Mindful and deep work is appreciated all the time and one also has the autonomy of learning more from mindful work. One of the best-proven ways to build patience is a few minutes of meditation every day. You can achieve mindfulness anywhere you want, for example, concentrating on the balls of the feet when you are walking, or eating mindfully, or listening with undivided attention to what the other person is saying.
- TIME BLOCKING
Blocking your time can efficiently boost the amount of enthusiasm felt while engaged in any sort of activity. It is often said that putting thoughts down on paper can actually embolden the commitment we put into our work. Well, this is true as we engage only the mind while processing thoughts, but putting those on paper requires obligatory action which engages both the mind and the body. Due to this simple reason, the contents are impressed in our mind profoundly. Also, we wouldn’t want any distractions around us while we carry out this practice. A quiet, cool place is recommended. Time blocking is done by simply creating a schedule for the rest of the day in the morning, jotting down important plans for the day. It brings order into things and lifts one’s state of mind from a constant state of disarray into a feeling of organised union whose upshots will most probably be a flurry of checkmarks on your to-do list at the end of the day.
If the reader unites to the subject of this article, it is a necessity to spread what they’ve learned into a larger pool of people as there are teenagers and youth in and around Sikkim facing severe stress due to their daily workload, which could cause a variety of mental illnesses, mild and severe. As the future of the world lies in the hands of today’s youth, we cannot afford to let them have such dysfunctional conditions. Victims of disorders like depression and anxiety kill the desire and the sense of urgency in them to act further towards their goals, and hence we lose dreams for a better state, a better world, every time a person is diagnosed with depression. We hope this message reaches out to those who have problems at work and home and strikes into their mind a positive response to the outlooks put forward here.
DISCLAIMER: The Redendron team does not try to dictate how to solve these issues. However, we do wish to open a discourse on this issue which has been masked by the many other achievements.