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The Science of Procrastination: Three Tips to End the Bad Habit

Posted February 14, 2014 by Cassandra Ehrhart in Life After Five
This week has been hectic, to say the least.  Between papers, interviews, training calls, and attempting to make it to the gym, I’ve been forced to stop procrastinating like I normally would during a typical week. What have I learned? That there actually IS hope for those of us who procrastinate on a daily basis.

After doing some research,

I gathered 3 tips to help you stop procrastinating and fly through your to-do list

  1. Turn everything off. Seriously, EVERYTHING.  Not just social media, not just your phone, not just your TV, but EVERYTHING. Many people think they work better or are less distracted while listening to music. However, psychology research shows that noise affects the brain and leads to deterioration of performance, especially in the case of a complex task. If you allow yourself to think in complete silence, your ideas will flow quickly and clearly. Leave yourself alone with your thoughts, and I promise that task will go by a lot faster than you anticipated.[i]
  2. Let go of self-criticism. This may sound a bit strange, because, what does self-criticsm have to do with procrastination? Surprisingly, a lot! Underneath the surface, in our subconscious, procrastinators often put off completing tasks because they’re afraid of rejection, failure, not being good enough, etc. For example, I’ve put off turning in an application to my dream agency because I’m afraid of that next step, which could ultimately be rejection. Let go of self-criticisms and just accept the fact that you may be rejected or fail. On the bright side, if you do fail, at least you will have more time to pick yourself back up because you didn’t procrastinate![ii]
  3. Consistently think long-term, not short-term. Procrastinators may put off completing a task because they enjoy the benefits of doing so. If someone puts off a task until the last minute, they have all the time before to do whatever they please. However, procrastinators suffer a huge amount of stress and worry when they discover their deadline is nearing, and they also perform worse than they would have if they didn’t put it off. So the next time you want to procrastinate, ask yourself what’s more important, stalking your favorite beauty blog for hours or getting a better performance review. [iii]

Now that you know how NOT to procrastinate you’ll have plenty of free time to do what you please, guilt free! So I guess all that’s left for you to do is binge-watch House of Cards on Netflix. (The new season comes out today!) Have fun!

[i] Nagar, D., & Pandey, J. (1987). Affect and performance on cognitive task as a function of crowding and noise. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 17(2), 147-157. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.indiana.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/617289149?accountid=11620

[ii] Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do about It Now, By Jane B. Burka, Lenora M. Yuen

[iii] https://www.amherst.edu/system/files/media/1636/procrastinating.pdf

About the Author

Cassandra Ehrhart

Cassandra Ehrhart is a results driven, public relations professional. She's currently a senior at Indiana University, Bloomington. This semester she's working for Coca-Cola as a Brand Ambassador, Author Solutions, Inc. as a Marketing Intern, and serving as the 2013-2014 Director of Communications for IU's Public Relations Student Society of America. She’s a bona fide dog lover from a small town in Indiana. There's not much that makes her happier than her niece and red wine. Cassandra is passionate about the mission of CGN and is proud to contribute her knowledge as a rising career girl.