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Laziness is not why you procrastinate. That's it

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If you’re stuck in what seems like an endless cycle of procrastination, guilt, and chaos, you might be asking yourself, “Why am I so lazy?” or “Why can’t I just pull myself together?”

But despite common perception, laziness is usually not the reason behind procrastination, said Jenny Yip, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the Los Angeles-based Little Thinkers Center, which helps children with academic challenges. “Laziness is like, ‘I have absolutely no desire to even think about it.’ Procrastination is: ‘It bothers me to think about it. And therefore it is difficult for me to do the work.’ That is a big difference.”

Knowing why you procrastinate and learning how to fight it are the only ways to change your behavior, according to experts. Psychologist Linda Sapadin sought to help in this self-improvement effort with her book “How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age”.

You can be the perfectionist, the dreamer, the worrier or the challenger – these are all procrastination styles that Sapadin lists in his book.

While these types of procrastination aren’t specific diagnoses and aren’t supported by research, “they’re psychological types or reasons why someone might procrastinate,” said Yip, who is also a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. .

Procrastination can have practical consequences, such as falling behind at work, failing to meet personal goals, or crossing tasks like grocery shopping or mailing off a letter from your to-do list. But there are also emotional or mental impacts. It has been linked to depression, anxiety and stress, lack of sleep, inadequate physical activity, loneliness and economic hardship, according to a January study of more than 3,500 college students.

“Particularly in the United States, where so much of our value is tied to what we do, how we work, what we produce – it can be very embarrassing if you can’t do that,” said Vara Saripalli, Chicago clinician. psychologist. “It can leave people feeling very defeated and not worth trying.”

Knowing why you procrastinate can make you self-aware, but you still need strategies to break the habit. “Otherwise we will keep repeating things,” Saripalli said. “The strategy you employ to beat procrastination will change based on what purpose procrastination is serving for you.”

Here’s how to explore what type of procrastinator you might be – although remember, you can embody more than just the characteristics of one type.

A procrastinator is usually a perfectionist, Yip said.

“Since the perfectionist needs things done perfectly — all Ts crossed and dotted — it takes an unsurpassed amount of effort. And if (they) don’t have a plan on how to complete that task, the perfectionist will be lost.”

Worriers tend to be indecisive and dependent on others for advice or reassurance before taking the initiative on their own. They also have a high resistance to change, preferring the security of the known.

Both perfectionists and worriers may put off starting tasks due to fear of failure or criticism, said Itamar Shatz, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, and creator of the website Solving Procrastination.

Challenge these beliefs and your behavior by recognizing that perfectionist standards are unrealistic, Shatz said. “Replace them with patterns that are good enough while allowing yourself to make some mistakes,” he added.

Avoid all-or-nothing thinking and set a time limit for completing a task. (And then stick to that time limit – don’t give up if you don’t meet it!)

A “dreamy” procrastinator doesn’t like the minute logistical details often required to get projects done, Saripalli said. “They like to have ideas,” he added. “This thing is fun. It’s kind of hard or boring to execute those visions.”

Dreamers may also think of themselves as people for whom fate will intervene, making proactive hard work and efficiency seem unnecessary.

And like a perfectionist, a dreamer can always want something better, Yip said. Train yourself to differentiate between dreams and goals, and approach goals with six questions: what, when, where, who, why, and how. Change “soon” or “one day” to specific times. Write your plans on a timeline, specifying each step.

People with defiant procrastination tend to see life in terms of what others expect or require them to do, not what they want. This pessimism lowers your motivation to complete tasks.

If you have that mindset, find positive ways to feel in control, Shatz said. Strive to act rather than react, and try to work with a team or supervisor, not against them.

“If something you don’t like, instead of being passive-aggressive about it, acknowledge what is and isn’t working and then talk to whoever is giving you that assignment,” Yip said. “Challengers often don’t feel prepared to have these conversations with whom they see as authority figures, or don’t believe that having these conversations would bring them any benefit or positive outcome. … That is not necessarily true.”

Like working with anxiety or other mental health issues, dealing with procrastination can be difficult, especially if it comes from deep-rooted issues, Shatz said.

For some people who procrastinate, “their sense of self is so fragile that the idea of ​​doing something and failing would just throw them into utter worthlessness,” said Sean Grover, a New York-based psychotherapist who specializes in group therapy.

In these cases, “consider reaching out to a professional, such as a psychologist, who can help you,” added Shatz.

“Visualization works,” Yip said. “If you can visualize yourself completing (a task), it becomes more doable simply because you have an idea that it can be done.”

At the end of the day, how you approach life is “all about your belief system,” Yip said. “If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you can’t, you can’t. So whatever you believe, you are right.”