Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.
People who procrastinate put off things because they hope to avoid the stress in dealing with them. However, procrastination is really a form of self-sabotage, actually increasing a person’s stress level and making most problems worse.
If you don’t deal with a late bill, the charges go up and your credit rating goes down, creating more stress. If you don’t talk to your partner or child about their behavior toward you, their behavior becomes ingrained and communication becomes more difficult, creating more stress. If you don’t start a work project, the pressure to get it done mounts, and other activities get tainted by stress.
Life is full of surprises and challenges. By facing such challenges head on, we adapt, grow, and learn to manage life without exacerbating the stress. If you stop running from your problems and face them sraight on, starting with the biggest one first, the relief you will feel will be liberating and life altering.
Rather than letting the fear of pain and frustration cause you to avoid life and its challenges, you can examine that fear to make better decisions. Instead of thinking, “Oh no, how can I avoid this miserable problem?” you can ask yourself, “What added pain and frustration will I have to suffer if I put it off?” No one likes undue stress; however, it is much easier to endure when we realize that we are minimizing long-term pain and suffering and maximizing long-term peace of mind.
Making a list of the steps you need to take is a good way to start. Then you just have to take that first step and face a problem head on. That’s usually the hardest part. If you just start the project, the momentum builds and usually takes care of the rest.
Of course there are appropriate times to procrastinate. On some occasions it’s wise to mull problems over for a day or two. Moreover, if a truly exceptional situation comes up, it can be worthwhile to wait until tomorrow and then to stop procrastinating.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD