Procrastination is our way of coping with negative emotions associated with certain tasks, think boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, self-doubt, etc. Because we associate a task with negative emotions, our brain perceives it as a threat and will aim to remove the threat in the present.
HOW CAN WE PIVOT FROM PROCRASTINATION TO TASK INITIATION?
Have compassion for yourself in the moments that you do procrastinate. This will allow you to move past previous maladaptive behavior and focus on upcoming tasks. Self-compassion also offers a buffer against negative reactions to events.
2. Cultivate Curiosity
If you feel tempted to procrastinate, pay attention to the sensations in your mind and body. What feelings elicit the temptation? What happens to the thought of procrastinating as you observe your feelings?
3. Consider the Next Action
Motivation follows action, so thinking about the next action opens up the possibility of tackling your task in the present. For example, if you were to start on your paper, maybe the next action would be opening up Canvas to look at the rubric.
4. Make your temptations more inconvenient
It's easier to change our circumstances than ourselves. If you're tempted to take a nap, work at a table somewhere far away from your dorm. If you're tempted to check social media, put your phone at the bottom of your backpack.
Adapted by Sarah Storm '25 from "Why You Procrastinate" by Charlotte Lieberman, NY Times