Reduce procrastination to improve wellness

Enjoyable activities can be the spice of life, but what must be done when they become excessive and interfere with our productivity? We’ll have to look in the mirror and take the initiative to reduce behaviors leading to procrastination.

Procrastination is often regarded as a time management problem. However, psychologists like Tim Pychyl at Carleton University attest that procrastination has more to do with emotional regulation than time management. This stance conflicts with popular understandings of procrastination, leading us to re-evaluate our perspective on this behavior.

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastination is often caused by emotional dissatisfaction associated with working on productive tasks, such as school assignments or work-related tasks.

Emotional dissatisfaction associated with productivity often leads to engaging in distractive activities like watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet and social media.

Procrastinating by engaging in distractive activities provides short-term mental satisfaction but can be detrimental to long-term wellness.

Impacts on wellness

Procrastination has been found to contribute to the following mental health problems:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

As time is spent procrastinating, stress and anxiety levels increase due to worrying about completing a task at hand, especially as deadlines approach.

Procrastination may also lead to depression because stress and anxiety are known to exacerbate symptoms of depression.

The following physical health problems have been associated with chronic procrastination:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic illness

Physical health consequences attributed with chronic procrastination are largely due to the physical impacts of anxiety. For instance, anxiety hinders functioning of the cardiovascular system, immune system and central nervous system, leading to physical health consequences.

Poor health habits are also common in people who experience immense stress and anxiety, therefore contributing to physical health consequences.

Reducing procrastination

While there are no cheat codes to conquer procrastination indefinitely. However, some useful tips can be used to significantly reduce this behavior.

A notable tip for reducing procrastination is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • “What tasks need to be completed to promote my wellness?”
  • “What actions will benefit my future wellness and success?”
  • “How will I feel if I do not complete a task on time?”

Such questions provide insight on what needs to be prioritized, as well as taking wellness into consideration.

Another useful tip to reduce procrastination is by giving yourself incentive to complete a task through rewarding yourself with an enjoyable activity after you’ve completed it. You can tell yourself, when I finish my assignment, I will watch that awesome new movie everyone’s been raving about or beat the next level in my favorite video game. Whatever the reward is, ensure it will give you strong incentive to complete your task.

Also, no exceptions. Enjoyable activities make it harder to be productive because transitioning from a pleasurable activity to a productive task is difficult.

Taking breaks

If you feel overwhelmed while completing a task, take a break. Do something that is not distractive, time consuming or mentally taxing, such as:

  • Take a short walk
  • Eat a healthy snack
  • Engage in mindfulness meditation

Such activities will promote mental clarity and enhance productivity when returning to your task.

Final thoughts

Procrastination is a prevalent behavior in society. Statistics estimate around 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinate academic work. Further, about 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are chronic procrastinators. However, through knowing the impacts of procrastination on wellness and tips to reduce this behavior, you can save yourself the unnecessary stress by completing your tasks ahead of time. What are you waiting for? Now is the time to tackle those productive tasks and overcome procrastination.   

Establishing good habits as well as finding ways to cope with mental health issues can be challenging. If you or a loved one has a mental health concern, we are happy to consult with you at Community Reach Center. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Broomfield and Brighton.

This blog was contributed by Brice Pernicka, a Westgate Community School student who is also an intern at Community Reach Center. The Grants, Public Relations and Marketing team extends a big thank you and high praise to Brice who exceeded expectations in writing exceptional blogs and handling at wide variety of tasks during his internship. We enjoyed the past six months he has worked with our team and predict great success in his future.