The postponement of work, such as the unpopular tax return, is a well-known everyday phenomenon. However, if the completion of unpleasant but necessary work is chronically postponed, procrastination is a work disorder that must be taken seriously. Those affected often end up in a vicious circle of self-doubt, pressure and fear of failure, while outsiders misinterpret the symptoms as laziness. Because of the serious professional and personal implications for those affected, it is important to take early steps towards treatment. Other synonyms are: procrastination, blockade of completion, postponement of arousal, postponement of action, procrastination or loafing.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination refers to the regular and counterproductive postponement of work that has to be done. The word is a combination of the Latin ‘pro’ (for) and ‘cras’ (tomorrow). Chronic procrastination behavior is a serious work disorder that must be distinguished from everyday phenomena such as laziness or personal weakness of will. See gradphysics for Testicular Torsion in English.
As a rule, those affected suffer considerably from the procrastination and its consequences, such as the termination of training or studies. They are also usually aware of the negative effects but feel unable to solve the problem or get the job done.
Procrastination is a serious self-regulation disorder that needs to be taken seriously and treated specifically. It can affect school, academic, professional and private activities, insofar as these are perceived as unpleasant.
Procrastination can be caused or facilitated by various factors, such as unwillingness to complete tasks, incorrect prioritization, unrealistic project planning and poor time management. A lack of performance or concentration, for example due to an illness or disorder, can also promote procrastination.
The level of aversion to the work to be done and the temptation to take alternative actions also play a role, as does the fear of failure or criticism, as well as excessive self-demanding to the point of perfectionism, impulsiveness and boredom. The various factors often reinforce each other or cause them in a kind of vicious circle.
Developing feelings of inferiority or shame subsequently reinforce avoidance behavior. Serious mental disorders such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders, and anxiety disorders can also cause procrastination. Conversely, chronic procrastination can also lead to these mental disorders.
Diagnosis & course of disease
There is no universal rule for when procrastination is such a big problem that it should be addressed. According to surveys, almost everyone postpones unpleasant activities from time to time.
There is a reason for treatment if the postponement leads to impairments for the person concerned, for example in their studies or at work, but also in other areas of life. Individual factors that lead to or maintain procrastination must therefore be considered. According to the various causal factors, other diagnosed mental disorders as well as the specific work behavior, the effects of procrastination and the degree of awareness of the person concerned are of interest.
Self-observation by those affected and standardized questionnaires by experts can provide information about this. Common questions include: How often is the start of important work delayed until the last moment? Is working on important tasks often uncomfortable or does it make you feel unwell in advance? Are other, less important tasks pursued instead and perceived as more attractive at the moment of starting work?
Procrastination can bring with it a whole range of complications for those affected, which are physically, psychologically and socially stressful. Due to the fact that the pathological procrastination is the normal state for those who are severely affected, the complications usually arise when the balance between the performance that has still been achieved and the expectations of the person themselves or those of their environment are no longer right.
If the drop in performance goes hand in hand with a loss of quality or if the performance is to be regarded as consistently insufficient – in which case it is a question of required and not actual performance – problems can arise in the area of professional life. Missed deadlines and unfulfilled tasks may lead to the loss of a job, a place at university or the like. Opportunities can also be missed or social life severely disrupted.
Due to the fact that those affected are suffering themselves, which is fed by the devaluation of their own person due to not being able to perform, the symptoms of stress and depression appear. It can lead to heart problems, metabolic problems, weight gain, a worsening of the complexion and much more. These complications are compounded by negative consequences that have resulted from procrastination.
Complications can also arise from underlying psychological conditions. This includes, for example, the increased willingness to self-injurious behavior in the case of depression or the onset of megalomania in the case of narcissistic personality disorders.
When should you go to the doctor?
It is difficult to estimate when a doctor’s visit is necessary in the event of procrastination. In any case, a presentation is necessary if the person concerned has the feeling that procrastination is having a major impact on his life and that he is no longer able to organize himself. With such an impairment of everyday life, it is advisable to seek appropriate help.
However, it may be advisable to see a doctor earlier. Early treatment is helpful to prevent the affected person from getting into a difficult life situation. The earlier the problem is recognized, the more likely it is that strategies can be developed in the course of therapy that have a supportive effect in overcoming procrastination.
At the latest when the person concerned has the feeling of losing control of his life, it is urgently necessary to see a doctor. However, it is important that the person affected is aware of the disease. Therapy only makes sense if the patient recognizes that he needs help and if he is willing to accept it.
Treatment & Therapy
There are hardly any systematic treatment approaches for procrastination. If the procrastination has developed as part of a mental disorder, i.e. if it is the result of depression, then the depression must be treated. In order to treat symptoms of procrastination, factors that are important for progress, such as precise starting, realistic goal setting and time management, are usually manually promoted, which are recorded in a work diary for self-observation.
Since people affected by procrastination find it difficult to estimate the amount of work they have to do, it can help to subtract about half of the actual work goal in order to avoid the cycle of disappointments and feelings of shame. Breaks and rewards are also essential to staying focused and being able to enjoy work successes.
Working in a team or voluntary control by others, for example through evening talks with friends, also makes it easier to overcome the “inner bastard”. The exchange with others can also take the pressure off and create a forum for praise, positive thoughts and support. Dividing larger work into small steps, avoiding multitasking and clearly setting priorities usually make it easier to start work. Here, too, a work diary in combination with group or individual therapy can contribute to better work planning and structuring.
As a preventative measure, it can be recommended to be aware of important and urgent tasks and to structure your daily or weekly routine accordingly. Unimportant and non-urgent tasks can often be ignored or not done at all without significant consequences, making room for the important tasks or relaxation. A fixed ratio of breaks and free time to working hours and thus a balanced work-life balance also helps to protect against the feeling of being overwhelmed and a cycle of fear of failure and procrastination.
In the course of the post-anamnesis in the case of procrastination, it must be analyzed to what extent excessive accumulations can be spun out again. A positive trend is to be achieved in the future. Excessive agglomeration in scheduling (“agenda storming”) must be unleashed again, and the overall network must be stretched. It is also about making the days concretely non-repetitive.
On the one hand. On the other hand, at the same time less in “packing them in” (creation of modulation and variety). ‘Cras’ and ‘crassare’ are irretrievably linked to both “morning” and “volume”. And so it is important to gain distance from things, but at the same time to ‘attack’ them non-obesely. That’s the social secret.
In aftercare, procrastination also means that social status can change. Procrastination during college is bad if you go back to a desk job afterwards. However, it can have a beneficial effect if you move from an urban to a rural area. To fully understand the various aspects of aftercare for procrastination, one must consider temporal, causal, local, and physico-psychological factors. The principle of contiguity is also important in this context.
You can do that yourself
There are many possible self-help measures that procrastinating people can take. Based on the observation that procrastination primarily affects people who suddenly have to structure their daily routine themselves, self-imposed timetables can help. In this way, the times for work and free time can be defined, which provides a guide. It can also help to start immediately with tasks that arise – no matter how difficult or urgent they are. This reduces the chance of putting off a task for a long time. At the same time, those affected should set themselves a time limit that is not too generous for each task.
It can also be helpful to pay attention to your own bio-rhythm. There are people who are not efficient in the morning. If the possibility exists, tasks should be started later accordingly, whereby the working time is then extended. For all work steps, it also applies that dividing it into small sub-steps is better than seeing large tasks. Small steps ensure more success and are clearer.
Self-discipline is also more important for people who suffer from procrastination. This starts with the fact that they should remove all disruptive factors from their work environment. Thoughts that justify procrastinating need to be challenged. Motivating thoughts should always be repeated and manifested.