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      How does procrastination affect mental health and our everyday lives? How to stop procrastinating? Procrastination in a systemic approach.

      Self Confidence Concept Illustration

       Procrastination, what is it?

      The origin of the term procrastination comes from the Latin words “pro” (forward or in favor of) and “crastinus” (of tomorrow). It also has its origin in the Latin word "procrastinare", which means to postpone, delay, prolong, defer, block or postpone the execution of a task. It involves carrying out an activity other than that planned and is synonymous with idleness. Procrastination involves avoiding a task or postponing it until a later, often unspecified, time. For example, you may know that you need to pay your taxes or submit your passport application form, but you are not doing what is required (and important!), which therefore implies the idea of ​​avoiding doing what we know we should do.

       

      We can procrastinate in many ways and our strategies can be exceptionally creative. The best definition of procrastination is "delaying an initially planned task, while expecting to suffer as a result." We all procrastinate from time to time, but in the modern world we also feel the pressure to continually start new tasks. We rearrange the pens on our desk, empty the trash, and surf the web, while the deadline hangs over our heads like an executioner's ax - the anticipation feeling worse than the task we're avoiding . In management jargon, we talk about creating a hot platform, from which we should be forced to jump, but we don't. In reality, we hold back from acting, like a train that has arrived and that we must now take. Yet we persist in using pens, the trash can, the internet.

      Here are some characteristics of procrastination:

      • Procrastinators have a hard time starting to work on something.
      • Procrastinators complain about how difficult things are and how busy they are.
      • Procrastinators generally don't finish what they start.
      • Procrastinators have too many things on their minds and on their to-do list.

      Our search for a compulsive, pointless activity to undertake or continue gives us an escape, a reason not to begin what needs to be done. The downside is that all the unfinished work remains on our calendar and to-do list, which only exacerbates our inability to begin the necessary task. This also means that in our downtime we tend to obsess over the things we haven't yet accomplished and how much time we have to free up. Avoiding the discomfort of the task is now mildly or severely unpleasant and so, whether we are busy or free, we do not have a sense of satisfaction and so we seek even more pleasure by delaying until that we feel comfortable. Procrastinators recognize that they procrastinate, delay a task or decision, and continually delay the start or completion of a planned action.

       

      Doubtful procrastination

      Delaying the inevitable

      The series of delayed or postponed actions results in an imperfect and undesirable behavioral outcome for our brain, resulting in emotional disturbance. Procrastination is quickly becoming a topic of interest in many professional contexts, whether it is finance (people putting off solving their financial problems) or health (people delaying their visit to the doctor). doctor).

       In psychology, the exact definition of procrastination is the subject of much debate, but the fields of neuroscience and behavioral economics view procrastination as an irrational delay, where one postpones an action when one feels worse off because of her. Consistent with our neurobiology, long-term intentions appear to be generated and observed, primarily in what is known as the prefrontal cortex of the brain. These impulses may be generated by our limbic system, which is particularly sensitive to very concrete stimuli, suggesting immediate gratification. The result is that we intend to work but procrastinate when the time comes, discovering that our preferences suddenly change as we pursue more easily pleasurable concrete temptations. This would explain why impulsivity is one of the traits most strongly associated with procrastination. We put off tasks with long-term rewards because we are impulsively distracted by short-term temptations.

      Doubtful procrastination

      Postponing making a decision in the event of conflict or choice is completely normal in procrastination. People who avoid making many decisions tend to be afraid of mistakes and are likely very perfectionistic. These procrastinators obsessively seek increasing amounts of definitive information about all available alternatives (as if that were possible!) before attempting to make a decision. The perfectly reasoned solution never arrives. Procrastinators experience deep uncertainty about their decisions, find themselves unable to act, and continually seek certainty before acting. This mechanism, which leads to the formation of a deep distrust of one's abilities, has a harmful effect because he overestimates the abilities of others or underestimates his own. This delay in action turns into increased anxiety, which blocks them even more. Repeating these delay tactics only increases their shame and self-loathing, which further exacerbates their feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. These behaviors usually result in the person suffering from low self-esteem and eventually becoming chronically insecure.

      Procrastination behavior

      Behavioral procrastination is a form of self-sabotage that allows people to blame others and avoid taking action. Procrastinators prefer to appear as if they lack effort rather than ability. Their logic is best illustrated by the idea that “if I never finish the task, you will never be able to judge my abilities.” Their guilt-ridden approach and inability to achieve their goals usually results in time being the culprit. Concern about others and how they may criticize or judge their abilities is paramount in their minds. It is not uncommon for people who procrastinate to view themselves solely on the basis of their abilities and continually seek to build a self-image and self-esteem on this basis. However, the closed loop they are stuck in becomes a vicious cycle in which avoidance leads to anxiety. Not succeeding fuels anxiety and low self-esteem, and so on.

       

       

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      Self-delusion: “I work best under pressure”

      Procrastinators may have the uncanny ability to underestimate the time it will take to complete a task and may suffer from the illusion that they have everything under control. The logical continuation of this reasoning is therefore the following: “there is no pressure to start” since there is more than enough time. At this point, considerable and usually excessive effort is expended to complete the task and the work progresses. This sudden surge of psychic and physical energy sees them progress due to lack of time or resources, ultimately leaving them exhausted, tired and out of breath.

      Obstacles to action

      A procrastinator may face feelings of low self-confidence and self-esteem, as we mentioned previously. The real pitfall may also lie in their insistence on demanding the highest standards, because they cannot accept that their work is not good enough. When people procrastinate, they may insist on achieving the highest level of performance, despite their pervasive feelings of inadequacy. My very dear colleagues, doctors Claudette Portelli and Matteo Papantuono (2019), have written an innovative book on the compulsive aspects of pleasure and they highlight the fact that pleasure is also a source of great pain. Too much pleasure can inhibit our ability to experience pleasure. Procrastination is accompanied by a desire for more pleasant activities and experiences, in order to distract us from the work ahead of us that seems so unpleasant. We embrace distractions such as the pleasure of doing something pleasant, having a coffee or going for a beer with a friend. It can also be about the pleasure of resisting and taking control, which results in declaring to others or to oneself: "I will do it when I am ready."

      References

      Gibson, P. (2021) The 12 Most Common Mental Traps. Strategic Science Books.

       

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      A team of more than
      50 trainers in France
      and abroad

      of our students satisfied with
      their training year at LACT *

      International partnerships

      The quality certification was issued under
      the following category of actions: Training action

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