Procrastination: I’ll Get To It I Promise!
An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 9, Number 11
November is the month that reminds us to give thanks. While there is much emphasis on shopping during this month, we remind you to take some time to count your blessings and to give thanks for your freedom and your standard of living. It is only because of the sacrifices of others that you are able to have so much to shop for. Therefore, take time during the holiday to think about and give thanks to those who have made you who you are.
This month’s E-letter focuses on Procrastination. Our email of the month is about 25 Affirmations For Confidence, and Our Ask the Doc question is about retirement. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We thank you for the many responses we have received through the years to our E-Letter.
Living with Fibromyalgia group. We have started a support group for people who have fibromyalgia, a debilitating disorder that causes physical problems including aching muscles, sleep disorders, and fatigue. The group meets once a week and is run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad. For more details, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Depression groups. An ongoing weekly depression therapy group meets regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Research Study. If you are overweight, you might consider participating in a research study. Our practice has been asked by Life Extension Institute to participate in conducting research assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Results show continued weight loss for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at 954 755-2885.
Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Our practice is one of the few offices certified to provide the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, it is required by the State of Florida for all parents divorcing or separating even if not legally married. We have designed it as a 4-hour, one-session presentation that focuses on ensuring that parents protect their children from the effects of divorce or separation by setting aside their differences and focusing on the children’s need for both parents in their lives. The course also provides information about divorce as loss, gives an overview of the Florida laws and statutes related to divorce and parenting plans, and offers information on how children react to divorce based on their ages. The course is offered live on a flexible schedule, based on the availability of those attending the course. Please contact our Administrative Assistant, Jillian, at 954 755-2885 for additional information.
Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.
PROCRASTINATION: I’LL GET TO IT LATER I PROMISE!
Our E-Letter this month focuses on something we all do, that is, procrastinate. Yes, all of us tend to put things off but for many, many people, especially students, procrastination becomes a way of life. Procrastination is basically the putting off of tasks to do until a later time. Most of the time we do them. However, some people become “last minute” doers where they create a great amount of stress and worry for themselves. It becomes a problem when it interferes with work, social, and personal functioning.
Procrastination is a learned behavior that one may have been taught by observing others while growing up in their home. It is a simple behavior pattern where putting off a task to do is reinforced by not having to exert effort at that moment. Because the reinforcement is positive, it tends to strengthen the avoidance of the task behavior pattern. It becomes even stronger if the task is eventually done by someone else or never has to be done. However, in most cases, eventually people will feel anxious about deadlines, guilt about not having done what they are supposed to, and possibly even depression as after a while they may feel helpless. In addition, they don’t get the satisfaction of getting the job done and possibly missing out on incentives if done early. People who procrastinate may precipitate little crises as their deadline draws near and they have not done the task. Social disapproval from others can cause friends to be upset when they count on the procrastinator to do what they are asked. Common examples of procrastination include:
- Not paying taxes and filing for extensions
- Not paying bills on time
- Not having completed term papers or projects
- Waiting for the last minute to get tickets to an event
- Not buying gifts until the day of the party
- Not cashing refunds, winning lotto tickets, or gift cards
Procrastinators have well developed excuses and reasons for not immediately doing the task. Some of these excuses include:
- It’s not due until Monday so I will do it over the weekend
- I am not motivated right now so I’ll wait until the motivation hits me
- I work better when I have a lot of things to do so I’ll wait until I have some more
- I don’t how to do it so I’ll wait until I figure it out or someone shows me
- I really don’t want to do it
- And one of the best: I always pull it out at the last minute
These excuses can be called avoidance, distraction, trivialization, humor, reframing, denial, and laziness.
There is also a correlation between procrastination and perfectionism. Those who are perfectionists often exert a lot of energy and effort in doing their tasks as they have to be done without any error. Procrastinators who are perfectionists often look at tasks as being bigger than they actually are because they have to not only be done just right but perfectly. Their expectations are too high for the task and consequently, they will tend to put it off.
To overcome procrastination requires the changing of a behavior pattern. To start, it is important to be honest with oneself and recognize that you are actually procrastinating by putting off your tasks. It is helpful to understand why you procrastinate. Often people procrastinate because they are disorganized, find the task unpleasant, or feel overwhelmed. You can organize yourself by using a to-do list, a planner, and a calendar to set up due dates before the actual deadline. You can make the task more pleasant by breaking it down into smaller, easier to do tasks. You can also provide yourself with some type of reward for completing each chunk of the task. The final step is to actually exert effort and take action to change this pattern. You can overcome feeling overwhelmed with the above suggestions and also by asking a friend to check in on your progress. By having this peer pressure, you may actually be more motivated to complete the task and not risk social disapproval. If you are a chronic procrastinator, it may be helpful for you to work with a therapist to overcome this pattern of behavior.
The benefits of overcoming procrastination include peace of mind, a sense of strength and confidence in oneself, and a feeling of being in control. You will have less stress by not worrying about deadlines and instead, feel a sense of an accomplishment. Reward yourself so that you learn a new and more efficient pattern of behavior.
We offer the following information on Procrastination:
PROCRASTINATION: I’LL GET TO IT I PROMISE!
”So here I am it’s 3 a.m, I don’t know where to begin,
Time’s running out and There’s no doubt that I feel,
Like throwing in the towel,
With no way I can get this Start finished”- “
WHAT TO KNOW!
- Procrastination is simply the putting off of things you have to do for a later time
- 20% of people say they are procrastinators; they typically:
- Do not pay bills on time
- Do not file their taxes on time
- Do not finish school or work projects on time
- Wait for the last minute to buy gifts
- Do not cash gift cards, lottery tickets, or refund checks
- By procrastinating, a person can avoid stressful tasks and negative emotions and it can become a learned pattern of behavior
- Procrastination is not a problem of time management or planning but of self regulation that can become a lifestyle of avoiding tasks at hand
- Procrastinating is reinforcing since every time there is a delay, it reinforces and strengthens the habit of not doing and putting things off
- Other mechanisms people use when they procrastinate besides avoidance is denial, distraction, trivialization, humor, laziness, and reframing to put off their tasks
- Procrastinators look for distractions such as checking email, facebook, and youtube
- Typical rationalizations include:
- I work better under pressure so I’ll wait until I feel pressure
- I really don’t want to do it so I’ll wait until I feel like it
- I don’t know how to do it so I’ll wait until I know how
- I’m just not in the mood to do it now but I will be later
- I always wait until the last minute and then pull it out and get it done
- The world isn’t going to end if I do it later
- It’s not due until next week so I’ll start it over the weekend
- The end results of procrastination can include stress, anxiety, guilt, crises, health problems, loss of personal productivity, and social disapproval from others
- Psychologically, in some cases, procrastination can be linked to depression, irrational behavior, low self-esteem, anxiety, poor habits, and ADHD
- There is a correlation between perfectionism and procrastination as tasks may be put off due to unrealistically high expectations, that is, everything must be right for the task
WHAT TO DO!
- Be honest with yourself and recognize that you are procrastinating
- Identify why you are procrastinating and give yourself some type of reward for changing your pattern of behavior
- Ask a friend to check-in on you and let peer pressure push you forward
- Focus on the negative results and how they are worse if you don’t complete the task
- Mentally, make the task look small and easy; do only a chunk of the task at a time
- Work on something for just five minutes then decide to finish or switch to something else
- Organize yourself with have to-do lists, schedules, due dates, and breaking tasks down into steps to get them done
- Change your environment so that it is conducive to completing the task
- Seek professional help if you are unable to stop procrastinating on your own
We Can Help!
Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067
As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.
Ask the Doc
JS writes: I am 64 years old, still working, and still married. I plan on retiring next summer from my job as a teacher. My husband will continue to work and probably retire in 3 to 4 years from now. I am looking forward to having nothing to do and not answering to any students, parents or principals. I can’t wait. However, my friends say I better find things to do to keep active. What do you think?
- Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: I agree with your friends completely. Our society doesn’t prepare us for retirement. Since most of the information we get is about financial retirement planning or long term care, we really don’t know how to do retirement. We look forward to it as a stress-free time and something we earned by hard work. No more will we look forward to not having a work schedule, answering to others, or completing work at home. Yet how do we adjust to giving all this up?
Your friends are correct in telling you to have things to do. I’ll go a step further and suggest that you have a plan. You have come from a career where you were quite important, affecting the lives of your students. You have always been busy solving problems, teaching information to young minds, and having to prepare lesson plans and tests. You have been a vital part of shaping the lives of others. You have had a position of importance, some status, and hopefully, a lot of respect. Now you will be retiring and you will be giving all that up. Will you?
Many people who retire feel depressed because of their losses. They lose their job responsibilities, their title, their professional identity, their workplace, their work friends, and their work expectations. These losses can be overwhelming. While they may have been a somebody at work, in retirement, they may be a nobody. Although they have freedom and time, often they don’t know what to do and wake up saying what should I do today? Once vital, retired people often slip into unimportance.
Having a plan will give you focus about how you want to spend your future. You have been an active and involved person so it is important for you to continue to be active and involved. You will need to make new friends who are also retired as well as find activities to do. Consider the dreams you may have had and said you would do when you retire. Do them. You may find great satisfaction in volunteering and helping others. Take classes in the subjects you always wanted to learn. Go to lectures and discussions. Get some exercise by walking or going to a gym.
To enjoy retirement, create a new sense of being vital. Have a new attitude where you and your family come first. Just because you stopped working doesn’t mean you stopped living. Now is your time. Make a plan to keep active with exercise, mind enhancement, social activities, accomplishments, etc. You will find importance, satisfaction, and enjoyment in retirement.ul>
Email of the Month
We would like to thank Henry S. for the following email:
Affirmations for Confidence
1. I am worthy of happiness
2. I am worthy of love
3. I am choosing inner peace over internal conflict
4. I believe in my skills and abilities
5. There are no failures. I learn from everything I do
6. Life is a gift I choose to fill with joy
7. I have the knowledge to succeed
8. I do not need someone to feel complete
9. I treasure my imperfections
10. I am grateful to not be perfect
11. Every fiber of my being radiates positive energy
12. I am not a victim of my circumstances
13. I have the ability to grow and change
14. Every moment I am here is a gift
15. Because I believe in myself, so will others
16. I attract only healthy relationships
17. I am releasing negative thoughts
18. I trust in my abilities to love
19. I am not damaged or “sick”
20. I love that I am unique
21. I can do healthy things for myself
22. I make sound decisions
23. I am worthy of love
24. I attract harmony and peace
25. I am a vessel of happiness
Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.
The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.
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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.