Wellness Matters NewsletterAn Experience in Creative Journaling

Courtesy of Life Esteem, Published by Simmonds Publications

Confronting Procrastination and Getting Things Done

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today"

     Everyone has been afflicted by procrastination at one time or another, that nagging menace that compels us to put things off for another day, another time. For some people this is a persistent problem, and for others it appears in only some area of their lives. The result, though, is the same for everyone: increased anxiety, wasted time, poor performance, missed opportunities, guilt, excusing ourselves and avoiding people who depend on us. There are better ways of dealing with the demands of living. Procrastination is not a trivial problem -- it causes suffering for many people.

     Who is likely to procrastinate? There is no research evidence that gender and intelligence have anything to do with a tendency to procrastinate. Age may have something to do with it. A recent study has found that procrastination peaks in the middle twenties, decreases for the next forty years and then increases again in the sixties. Other research has found that people who feel overwhelmed and cannot calm down readily tend to put things off. Similarly, there is a relationship between anxiety and procrastination. It is no surprise that people who fear failure have the problem, as well as people with low self-esteem. People with a poor tolerance for frustration or difficulty delaying gratification, of course, find it difficult to stick with a task until it is completed, and the same holds true for those who cannot concentrate for long. Those who have conflicts with authority figures and are rebellious have been shown to have a proclivity toward procrastination.


     People with depression, who may have low energy and hold negative thoughts about their ability to get things done, frequently have problems with procrastination. And then there is the perfectionist. Those perfectionists who set their own standards seem to have a problem with "sloth", but those who have adopted the standards set by others do have trouble completing their work. This is because they are sensitive to the evaluations they might receive from others -- they want to avoid social disapproval.


     We procrastinate...

  1. when the dishes don't get done and the bed doesn't get made;
  2. when that term paper is due tomorrow morning and we're sitting in front of the TV;
  3. when we talk about superficial things with our partner rather than confronting some pressing issues that really need to be addressed; or
  4. when we play solitaire on the computer rather than getting the report done that has to be in at 5:00.

     Clearly, we are not accomplishing those things that need to be done, and to confront the underlying reasons for our procrastination may be either uncomfortable or beyond us. So what do we tell ourselves to justify our behavior? We may use any of a number of excuses -- and here are some common ones:




This newsletter is intended to offer general information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from these broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problems.

La Jolla, CA 92037

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