Procrastination Station

February 27, 2019
written by:Claire Brandon, M.D.

Often find yourself burning the midnight oil?

We use it a lot, the idea of procrastinating, sometimes to joke about habits we think we cannot break and sometimes to make ourselves feel better. But what exactly is procrastination and can we break it?

Procrastination by definition is a delay or putting off something we probably know we should do.

It can encompass a wide array of things from going to your doctor’s appointment to finishing a work project. We put it off, try not to think about it, or tell ourselves we have plenty of time, so one more episode of that show we’re watching won’t hurt. But the truth is, at least partially, procrastination usually is found in scenarios that often require a significant amount of work to get the eventual payoff. Defining goals that are really important to us can help keep us on track. If your goals seem difficult to reach, it may be necessary to redefine the outcome or the path to regain motivation.

What thoughts might cross our minds that we tell ourselves to pursue delayed gratification? Maybe some of the following thoughts sound familiar. 

  • You think that you work better under pressure. 
  • You give up believing that you get easily distracted.
  • It’s difficult to prioritize.
  • You blame perfectionism.
  • Estimating the amount of time needed for the task is always a little off.
  • You believe the task will take too much effort. 

These are all examples of distorted thinking. Try calling yourself out on these excuses and ask the questions about how much you actually want the goal you’re going after. And then take steps:

How To Deal With Procrastination

1. Write down your goals.

Putting goals down on paper helps to make them real and easier to visualize. 

2. Schedule your goals.

Schedule time to work on your goals, whether that is going to the gym or spending time practicing a foreign language, putting it in your calendar and setting alarms helps reinforce that you are making it a priority. 

3. Break it down.

Figure out the smaller pieces of your goals so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the big picture. One step at a time.

4. Pick a goal that makes you happy.

Working on goals is hard. Working on a goal that you think other people would admire or that you think makes you feel more important versus one that is actually meaningful to you is harder. Pick something that excites you and even through the hard work, you’ll have fun.

**This blog is not to be treated as medical advice, please discuss with your physician if you have any concerns.**

Claire Brandon, M.D.

Dr. Brandon is a dual board-certified psychiatrist in both adult psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry (treatment of psychiatric illness in medically ill adults). She completed her residency and fellowship training at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and did a second fellowship in public psychiatry at New York University in New York City

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