Procrastination and the Habit of Negative Delay
By Chris Joscelyne

As a mature-age student at the University of Western Sydney, I was one of very few seniors in a young and energetic marketing class. What I found particularly interesting was the number of occasions on which many seemingly highly motivated students sought extensions of deadlines for the submission of their course assignments.

During coffee breaks, I listened with interest as students shared their reasons for not having assignments ready on time. Some students appeared to get a thrill out of what educators call the "deadline high". This is the deliberate delay in commencing a task until the deadline has arrived, producing a "high adrenalin" response. Others had excuses for delay that ranged from the mundane to the unbelievable, however I noted that procrastination was a common issue.

When people delay tasks by putting them off until they are unavoidable, they create avoidable problems for themselves, including stress. Procrastination slows achievement of current goals, and reduces personal efficiency as time pressure accumulates.

Procrastination can be the result of:

  • Analysis Paralysis 
    The task planning process is drawn out to avoid confronting an issue. Plans for a task are argued, finessed, analysed and perfected, while commencement of the actual task is delayed unnecessarily.

  • Perfectionism 
    A task is not completed because it is being fine tuned long after it has been achieved to an acceptable level. This can delay tackling the next task, creating a backlog of work.

  • Hostility 
    A task is given to a person who does not like it, or dislikes the person who has allocated the task. Commencement is delayed due to hostility.

  • Boredom 
    A boring task is delayed because it is perceived as being unexciting and therefore of little importance. In reality, many "boring" tasks are important and of value.

To overcome procrastination, avoid negative thoughts about the task or the person who has allocated it to you. Note the deadline by which the task should be achieved, and then stick to it. Use your diary, a planner or work sheet, and set mini-goals within the task to keep track of your progress. With realistic planning and self-discipline the task should be completed on time, with greater satisfaction and with less stress.

About the author: Chris Joscelyne trained as a clinical hypnotherapist under the tutorage of Margaret Tomko. He was taught grief counselling by Mal McKissock, and he learned meditation in a course sponsored by the Department of Health. He developed his personal awareness knowledge with mentors Barbara and Terry Tebo of Lifespring. For ten years Chris was a visiting lecturer at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School where he taught personal development, meditation and stress management skills. Now he shares his knowledge with a wider community as a speaker, trainer and coach, teaching people how to "Life by choice - not by chance".

The original version of this article can be found at www.positivepath.net/ideasCJ2.asp