The panic monster is back and you can hear him roar.
Your adrenaline level is way up as you type in the last three paragraphs of your news story. You do a cursory reading looking for missing words that often forget to type in when you are in rush trying to beat the afternoon deadline. With a sigh of relief, you hit the send button and seconds later, your news story reaches your editor’s inbox.
You are a beat reporter stationed at the SEC and this is how your daily grind looks like. Procrastination is not an option. Journalists can’t afford to delay news as it would mean depriving the readers of important information. Your editors would yell at you and you would feel small if all the other reporters have the story and you don’t. There is just too much to lose if you procrastinate.
While you manage to beat your news story deadlines day-after-day, the other aspects of your life are not as spot on.
You are a procrastinator.
You manage to cram at the last minute what needs to be done but only after so much delay. You make excuses for putting off deciding which workshop to take, negotiate with your boss for a pay raise or call the laundry service for your dirty clothes. In all these situations, there is no panic monster who could be relied upon to rally all the cells in your body toward action and not stupor.
You find yourself asking, "why do I sabotage myself"?
After much soul-searching, you admit that you dread failing. You do fear rejection by your boss and not getting a raise, as much as you fear being disappointed that your chosen workshop is closed, or that the laundry service may not send someone right away to wash your clothes. You postpone acting on these and other similar issues. It seems natural for you to dawdle on tasks that are unpleasant or those with difficult results.
But, is this the only reason?
Recent studies in psychology are now painting another picture.
- It seems procrastinators don’t only linger; they are also almost always are late. But tardiness “doesn’t have to do with their ability to care about punctuality.”
- Procrastinators are said to be "skewed optimists" who think they’ll “have enough time to make it, no matter how much time is left.” They believe that good things are very likely to happen.
Sources: Lay, C. H. (1988). The relationship of procrastination and optimism to judgments of time to complete an essay and anticipation of setbacks. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 3(3), 201-214. Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012).Applied Social Psychology. SAGE Publications, Inc.
This is the half-full version of the glass of water.
- While you do admit you have the tendency to suspend acting on both minor and important issues in your life because you hate coming to terms with negative outcomes, you do see that you are always hopeful that things will come out right in the end.
- While you do fear failure, which is normal, you are also a believer that things will soon lift and the situation will be okay.
Presented with this new side of the coin, you have a better grasp of your sense of self.
With this new explanation on your cause for delays, you have a better appreciation of your approach to dealing with the world.
You are a fearless optimist with a very bad habit of postponing. So when you start to play for time, you nip it in the bud and catch yourself.
"Am I just afraid of a negative result?" (afraid to fail).
"Or am I just hoping that things will be alright?" (too optimistic).
Swing by these questions to get to the bottom of your procrastination.
Nowadays, you are a better procrastinator. :)