Procrastination is a common problem. After all, we know a thing or two about putting off important tasks just to check our social media or clean the kitchen shelves. While we have all experienced postponing tasks at some stage of our lives, procrastination can be a debilitating problem.
According to Joseph Ferrari, who is a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, approximately 20 percent of adults in the US suffer from chronic procrastination. And the issue can manifest itself in various areas of life including work or school, social activities and household tasks.
The chronic tendency to postpone important assignments or errands in favor of inconsequential distractions can have various consequences. From mild stress to losing an entire career, the effects of procrastination range from uncomfortable to devastating. Avoiding tasks can lead to professional or academic failure, as well as social disapproval. It can also be the cause of low self-esteem, anxiety, insomnia, low immunity and gastrointestinal problems.
How Do I Stop Procrastinating?
Overcoming chronic procrastination can be tricky. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can offer a solution. Unlike some other therapy methods, CBT investigates the connection between thoughts, behaviors and feelings. In particular, CBT therapy for procrastination assists individuals in the development of realistic skills and strategies to help them deal with challenges whenever they arise in the future.
Ready to kick procrastination to the curb? Here are just a few benefits of CBT therapy for procrastination.
- Focusing on Positive Thought Patterns
When individuals procrastinate, they are often overwhelmed by negative thoughts such as “this task is too difficult” or “I will never finish this on time.” These can often become automatic and make a person feel helpless. CBT techniques for procrastination can help to approach negative thoughts and behaviors in a more positive way.
- Identifying Small Goals
Many procrastinators choose to ignore tasks because they find them overwhelming. Rather than focusing on how “impossible” a task is, CBT treatment for procrastination teaches individuals how to look at projects and activities in a more realistic way. In particular, creating accessible goals, rather than thinking about the entire project, can go a long way to beating procrastination. For example, a day’s project can be easily divided into separate 20-minute tasks.
- Making the Most of Natural Patterns
Are you an early bird or do you do your best work in the evenings? Do you shine at meetings after lunch but struggle to keep your eyes open in the mornings? CBT techniques for procrastination can help to make the most of these natural patterns. Specifically, CBT treatment for procrastination teaches individuals that they can benefit from scheduling their tasks and meetings at a time they are likely to be most effective.
- Learning to Prioritize
Let’s face it. Life is filled with projects and errands. While some are small, others can seem insurmountable. Whether we like it or not, all of these tasks need to be completed sooner or later. And here is where many procrastinations make one crucial mistake — they finish small low priority tasks before tackling urgent projects that may seem more difficult. A part of CBT therapy for procrastination involves creating “To Do” lists that separate tasks into three categories — urgent, somewhat important and to be completed later. This helps individuals tackle the most time-sensitive tasks first rather than spend valuable time dealing with smaller errands simply because they are easier. In addition, some minor tasks can be completed immediately such as quick emails and calls. It is best to cross these off right away as they can add up quickly if left for later.