Procrastination is a very familiar problem. If you often feel that you struggle to self-motivate, you may be prone to procrastinating. As negative beliefs are at the root of our most common psychological vulnerabilities, it is helpful to become aware of the attitudes, rules and assumptions that are stopping you from getting things done.
Here are 5 common beliefs of procrastinators:
1- “If I can’t do my best, it’s not worth doing it”
Perfectionism is not a skill, but a self-confidence killer. A perfectionist wastes precious time on unproductive thinking while life passes him by. You can learn how to embrace your humanity by accepting the idea of trial and error and celebrating your efforts. Ten thousand “good enough” actions are much more rewarding in the long term than carrying out a single perfect one.
2- “No risk, no disappointment”
If you value your efforts – and not only perfect results – you are not afraid of taking risks. Self-confidence is nurtured from the inside out. Practice self-compassion whenever you are brave enough to get out of your comfort zone. Tell yourself that trying is as good as winning and act as your own best friend. Praise yourself even when it feels like no one else seems to be taking notice of you. Do not wait for outside recognition to build an inner sense of self-esteem, but let unconditional self-love guide you through your endeavours.
3- “Nothing ever works out for me anyway”
In CBT, such statements/automatic thoughts are classified as cognitive errors due to their unrealistic perspective. To tell yourself that absolutely nothing works out for you is too global and simplistic a statement to be reflective of objective truth. Aren’t you failing to recognise some of the good things that you have managed to achieve? It sounds as if you were allowing perfectionism to undermine your self-confidence.
4- “If I don’t feel like it doing it, it means I shouldn’t”
You would be surprised by how untrue such belief actually is. When you manage to overcome that initial resistance, you usually find that you can carry on doing what you have set yourself to do with reasonable ease. Motivate yourself by developing a higher tolerance to discomfort, little by little. Make it your thing to challenge thinking that seems to be working against you. Question negative and unproductive cognitions through raising self-awareness. After all, who is in control of you, your self or your thoughts?
5- “I don’t have time for this”
Really? Or isn’t that just another excuse not to dedicate yourself to something new or make some positive changes in your life? If you genuinely feel that time is against you, it may be a good idea to work out what you are actually doing with it. Take a few minutes during the next week to write down what you do on an hourly basis, every day of the week from Monday to Sunday. Then analyse your findings and assess how you have been managing your time. What are your priority tasks? What activities could be excluded, shortened or extended in order to allow you to attain your self-improvement goals? Actively structuring your daily routine is a self-empowering initiative that gives you a renewed sense of control and responsibility over your own life.
To win the battle against procrastination and become more productive, be attentive to errors in your thinking. Thoughts that are too general or send out a message of rigidity, perfectionism or bias towards the negative, for instance, are renowned for resulting in personal conflict and feelings of inadequacy. Targeting dysfunctional thinking requires little effort and dedication from your part, while it helps you realise your potential in a healthy and independent way.