No more procrastination: What helps with constant procrastination?

Calling the customer, completing the minutes, writing the email to the boss: That tends to end up at the bottom of the to-do list.

No more procrastination: What helps with constant procrastination?

Calling the customer, completing the minutes, writing the email to the boss: That tends to end up at the bottom of the to-do list. But those who only procrastinate have a real problem.

"What you can do today, don't put it off until tomorrow": People who tend to procrastinate have little use for the much-cited proverb.

The graduate psychologist Prof. Florian Becker describes procrastination as "the irrational delay or omission of an activity without considering the negative consequences to be expected".

This is not done out of ignorance or laziness. It's because people with a tendency to procrastination simply can't bring themselves to do it or prefer to do other things. Someone doesn't learn even though they know that an exam is coming up soon. Or someone prefers to surf the Internet, although he knows that the manager is waiting for the quarterly figures.

People who are lucky enough to have a lot of freedom of action in their job are particularly susceptible to procrastination, says Anna Höcker, psychologist, book author and coach. Executives can feel the same way as students. Good self-control is required here. "If it doesn't work or isn't well trained, the risk of procrastination increases."

This is particularly difficult in the home office. Anna Höcker headed the procrastination outpatient clinic at the University of Münster for ten years and developed a self-test for procrastination there. "Occasional procrastination isn't usually a problem, and not everyone who procrastinates occasionally has a problem," she says.

However, the inner alarm bells should ring if you keep getting angry with yourself because of the postponement and can only rarely relax and enjoy your free time. For example, because you constantly think about the postponed work. Or when deadlines - if at all - can only be met under great pressure.

"Procrastination becomes a problem when it becomes chronic and excessive and repeatedly has a negative effect on your well-being and satisfaction," says Höcker. For many it goes so far that personally important goals are also affected.

In addition, the ability to work suffers. "People who constantly procrastinate not only have stress and feelings of guilt, they are also less successful in their studies and at work, they achieve less, they earn less and they tend to be single," says business psychologist Florian Becker.

For example, people who get bored easily or have weak impulse control can be susceptible. "Those who believe in their own competence and are self-confident are more immune," says Becker.

As soon as procrastinators face a task and feel pressure, they unconsciously look for a way out: "They either numb their feelings with distractions or look for another task that will give them a quick sense of achievement." That means: you tidy up your desk, immerse yourself in a computer game or chat through social networks.

It has nothing to do with laziness. Rather with a lack of impulse control and with the fact that you give in to every stimulus immediately. "The perfidious thing is that the brain learns: If you're under pressure, that helps me. But if the pressure keeps increasing, then you have to watch more Netflix, more computer games..." says Becker.

But how do you break this vicious circle? "It may sound trivial," says the business psychologist. "But it means: start, just start. Because that's exactly the problem." And if it's only five minutes that you're learning or sitting at the new numbers: It's important to make this start in the first place.

Of course, it helps to turn off the systematic distractions. For example, by reducing your time on social media or setting a fixed time window for use. Last but not least, everything is a question of training: the more often you succeed in starting a job that you have postponed, the longer you can hold out at some point.

It's important not to be guided by false beliefs like: "The project is so important, I can only work on it when I'm in the perfect mood for it!" Or: "I can only work under pressure!"

For Anna Höcker, it is precisely such thoughts that prevent people from going about their work with ease. Her tip: set priorities. What is important and what is just "nice to have?". That's better than getting bogged down in long lists and details.

"Also, ask yourself if you want to do the task at all, and if so, why," she advises. "If it's unimportant, just cross it off your list altogether. Then you don't have to have a bad conscience."

By the way: Even those people who always do everything immediately, that is, who "precrastinate", don't always have it easier. On the contrary. "Anyone who is always purely reactive often loses orientation," says Florian Becker. If you work through everything immediately in anticipatory obedience, it does not mean that these are the fields with which you score the most points. In other words, "You need to know what's really important." And then start.

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