Procrastination

Why am I procrastinating?

Procrastination. This is one of the biggest things teenagers struggle with, and something I’ve been struggling with for a long time.

I can undoubtedly say that every single human being has procrastinated at least once in their entire life. It’s even more common among teenagers to procrastinate. 

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But first, what even is Procrastination?

Basically, it’s a pattern of behavior when someone delays their work or puts it off for later and instead focuses on other less important tasks. 

I found this very good visual example from Procrastination.com, that explicitly explains what procrastination is.

{Insert visual example from research}

The other day, when I was researching about the types of procrastination, I found an awesome TED talk from Tim Urban that explained long-term and short-term procrastination. 

Tim started off by saying that in every mind of a procrastinator, there is a gratification monkey, a rational decision maker and the panic monster”. 

Now the rational decision maker makes rational decisions that are appropriate for the time being. However, the gratification monkey doesn’t like doing hard or boring work. 

So, most of the time the gratification monkey takes over and makes irrational decisions such as working on less important stuff or just not working at all.  

But the thing is that this working pattern breaks whenever the panic monster shows up as the deadline is very close. 

Well, what does this do? It makes the monkey hand over the wheel to the rational decisions made because the monkey is terrified from the panic monster.

Now, the rational decision maker makes the rational decision and decides to work continuously to finish a project by the deadline. 

This is why sometimes, procrastination because there is a deadline, a panic monster that awakens.

However, it turns out, there are two types of procrastination.

“Everything I’ve talked about today, the examples I’ve given, they all have deadlines. And when there’s deadlines, the effects of procrastination are contained in the short term because the Panic Monster gets involved. But there’s a second kind of procrastination that happens in situations when there is no deadline.” Tim

This procrastination is called long-term procrastination and occurs when there are no deadlines or due dates. When there’s no deadline, there’s nothing the panic monster has to wake up for and thus the gratification monkey keeps making irrational decisions. 

Now this type of procrastination is what evokes those guilty and gloomy emotions in a procrastinator. 

This is the type of procrastination that is way more harmful in the long-term as it keeps us away from achieving our dreams.

“The frustration isn’t that they couldn’t achieve their dreams; it’s that they weren’t even able to start chasing them” — Tim Urban. 

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What are the reasons for both types of procrastination?

Generally, people confuse procrastination with laziness. Let me make it clear, procrastination is NOT laziness.

Just because someone is refusing to do their chores or delaying their homework, doesn’t mean that they are lazy.

However, most of the time there are significant reasons why people procrastinate and here I’ve listed a few reasons as well as the cures for why you may be procrastinating.

  • Lack of Motivation. When you’re not motivated about what you’re doing, obviously, you won’t want to do it. 

If this is the case, then you’ve got to reflect about why you’re doing that task, if you should be doing something different, and what you can do to be motivated.

  • Lack of Self-Confidence: This is one of the reasons why I used to struggle with avoiding procrastination. I simply did not feel confident enough to submit my work and receive a good grade on it.

This low self-esteem is what held me back from completing my assignments and feeling as if I’ve done a good job. 

Then, after identifying that I was procrastinating because of low-self confidence, I started to avoid this by pushing myself outside my comfort zone. When I was outside my comfort zone, I would be nervous and scared, but that helped me be confident in the long-run.

  • Fear of failure. I think this is another reason why so many people don’t chase their dreams in the first place. They’re afraid to fail. They feel as if by not attempting, they’re won’t be any chance of them failing. 

To reverse this habit, you’ve got to understand that failure isn’t bad. In fact failure and mistakes are the most important experiences for a human being to succeed. Just because you’re scared to fail doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Now, I know this is easy to say and hard to do, but the only cure out of this habit is to train yourself to accept failure and not be afraid of it. 

  • Perfectionism. Now, you may ask, “wait but isn’t perfectionism a good thing?” “It means you want to be perfect.” The answer is yes and no. 

Perfectionism at times can play to your advantage, as it helps you pick out little details or gaps that need to be perfect. However, it also leads to procrastination as you’re always subconsciously worrying about whether your end result will be perfect or not.

When you want your product to be perfect, you’re afraid to start it as you worry that it may not be perfect. Kinda similar to fear of failure. 

Cure?

Well, the cure to this is to change your mindset. I’m not saying, don’t aim to make your end results excellent. Instead, just aim to do your best and be confident with yourself. 

Remember, there is no “perfect”, so try doing the best you possibly can rather than aiming for a “perfect” that has no end. 

  • Weak organizational skills. Another reason for procrastinating, is that you’re not organizing your tasks in a neat way. When your work isn’t organized, you have no idea where to start. 

So then what do you do? Well, it’s simple, get organized! Use organizational strategies such as keeping a schedule or a planner. To get organized, you may need to even reflect on your priorities.

Once you’ve organized and made a plan, it’s easier for you to get started. 

What to take away from Today.

Now that you’ve understood procrastination and hopefully identified why you’re procrastinating, you’ll be able to defeat the gratification monkey in your head. 

Check out my next blog post, to learn about a balanced school life and how to attain it. 

Productivity In General

Understanding Productivity!

Before I start giving you guys tips on how to be productive, I think it’s important to first understand productivity and identify what it means.

For me, productivity is like a measurement of how many relevant and important tasks a person can do within the time that they are given. For example, the more work one can get done in a set timeline, the more productive they would be. 

All the tips and strategies that I will be posting on my blog, will help you to boost your productivity.

Now, being productive is an essential skill that especially teenagers need to be successful.

Why?

Well, this is because at this point of our lives, us teens have much work and pressure on our hands.

We have to get through all the homework we’re given in high school while also working on our long-term goals and relationships. 

Being productive has two main effects.

  • You can get into the habit of managing your time well. This skill is definitely important to be successful, as in adulthood, teenagers will be exposed to even more stress and will need to learn how to handle it.
  • It can be emotionally healthy as it helps to lift your mood. Research shows that being productive has a psychological effect on you that can make you happy. Whenever you check-off a task on your to-do list, dopamine is released in your system that makes you feel accomplished or happy. 

This is a great mood booster for short-term as well as the long-run! 

Plus, don’t you all want to learn how to manage your time so that you can get your homework done really quick? Then, you can save some free time for yourself to relax. That definitely sounds like something I’d like to do!

Well, then why do teens struggle to be productive?

The same reason why teens need to be productive is also the culprit to why teens might not be. 

All the pressure and stress kids receive, leads to many reasons why they might not be productive

Here is a list of the 5 main reasons why one may be struggling to be productive:

  • Distractions: Getting distracted is very easy for teenagers, especially because of all the diverse technology that they have access to. For example, social media is one of the biggest distractions in today’s world.

 It’s fairly easy to end up scrolling through Instagram or YouTube rather than actually doing homework or something productive. 

Some other distractions may be family issues or irrelevant thoughts in your mind that can divert your focus from the task at hand. 

To get rid of this habit, you need to first identify what your distractions are. If you don’t know what’s distracting you, you won’t be successful in avoiding those things. 

Then, you need to find ways to eliminate those distractions. 

When it comes to my own experience, I’ve often been unproductive due to distractions. For example, whenever I used to sit down to get some work done, I would end up watching TV shows on Netflix for a few hours instead. 

Once I had identified that Netflix was my culprit, I set goals for myself to stop using it during certain times of the day. At one point, I even canceled my Netflix subscription. After doing this for about a few months, I was able to redirect my focus and be more productive. 

  • Lacking Direction: Another very common reason for the lack of productivity and time management, is that you know your destination but have no idea how to get there. For example, you may know your long-term goals or dreams but have no plan on how to achieve them. 

If this is your case, then you should stop what you’re doing and take some time to map out your action plan for the dreams you have. You may need to ask for help from your parents or other trusted adults.

Don’t just sit there, and expect help to come running for you, you’ve got to ask for it. Remember, you can also reach out to me and ask for advice (Visit Contact Me!) I’ll try my best to provide helpful recommendations and answer any questions you may have. 

  • Difficult Work or Boredom with Tasks: Personally, I find that I can’t be productive when my work seems boring or difficult. It then acts like a burden for me and I either end up procrastinating or not managing my time well. When the tasks at hand are too complicated and not manageable, it can seem very hard to complete them.

The cure to this, is to ask yourself some important questions. The first “Should I be doing this task in the first place or should I focus on something else?” Once you’ve got that answered, ask yourself how you can make your tasks seem less difficult and become motivated to complete them. 

  • Messed up Routine: An improper routine can be another contributor to your poor productivity skills too. When your routine is messed up, or you’re not starting your day early, you have even less time to complete the tasks.

This distracts you from being productive while also giving you less time to complete the tasks you want to. 

  • Being Overly Stressed Out. When you have too much work on your shoulders and less time, you start to panic and may not find yourself managing your time well. 

That’s why you need to learn how to manage stress. You can find some strategies such as mindfulness on my blog as well as other places on the internet.

My Final Message to you guys

Now that I’ve talked about what productivity is and the reasons for why some teenagers may not be very productive, I hope that you all have a better understanding of this topic.

After reading my post, I’d also like to ask you all to carefully reflect on your productivity skills as of right now and try identifying why you are or are not being productive. 

This is because, in my next upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing tips about strategies you can use to be more productive in my blog post “How can I be productive?”

Also, if you’re struggling with procrastination check out “What even is procrastination, and why am I procrastinating.” In this post I explain what procrastination is, and also list out many reasons why people might procrastinate and share some of my own opinions.

Productivity In General

How can I be productive?

“How can I be productive?” This is probably one of the questions I’ve asked myself repeatedly in the past couple of months. After doing research, I discovered that there’s actually no one simple method to improve productivity. 

We are all human beings and have different ways that help us be productive. Obviously don’t expect me to magically give you an answer to this question. But, I will provide you with ways to understand what’s your answer to this question.

I’ll also provide you guys with some recommendations and strategies that can help you be more productive in general. 

Let’s start with the very first step, which is helping you answer your own question? 

Wait, but how do you do this?

Simple; understand why you’re not being as productive as you want to be in the first place. Now, there are a billion reasons why someone may not be productive. I have a list of some reasons why teens specifically may struggle to be productive in my first blog post “Understanding Productivity”. 

Do check out that blog post and try identifying why you’re not being productive. Then, once you’ve identified why you’re not being productive, you can better understand what to do next. 

For example, maybe you’re not being productive because you’re being over stressed. This means that you have to seek help to manage your stress.

Another example may include, that you’re distracted all the time. So, your next step would be to avoid distractions and seek strategies to be more focused on your work.

Maybe there isn’t any specific reason, and you simply have to manage your time better.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

Speaking of managing time, time management is key to being productive. 

Once you’ve identified if there’s a reason for your inefficiency and gotten rid of it, now it’s time to boost your productivity in general! 

This is where time management comes in. Time management is basically how well can you manage your time and get what you want to get done in a specific timeline. 

The first and foremost step to improving your time management is understanding how you’re already managing your time. You can do this by tracking your time on some of your typical days including work days and weekends.  

Personally, I use the old-fashioned technique of pen and paper to do this but you can also use certain apps like Toggl or Clockify. 

Another way to understand how you’re managing your time is to view your screen time reports on your phone or device. These reports can tell you which apps you’re spending the most and least time on. 

When you know how you’re managing your time, you can immediately identify distractions and tasks that you think you shouldn’t be doing. 

Now, once you’ve understood your time management so far and have eliminated all your distractions, it’s time to take steps in order to improve. 

Below, I have listed many strategies and steps to take that will help you manage your time better. These tips include my own experiences and opinion as well as the research I’ve been doing. 

  • Plan out your Goals and Objectives. 

This means that you should create an organized system in which you plan out what you want to accomplish in each “work” session. Remember these planners don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be efficient and easy for you to use. 

  • Prioritize your tasks and schedule accordingly

Yes, prioritizing is very important as it avoids you working on tasks that can really wait and being diverted from the more urgent tasks. Even just color-coding your to-do list works!

  • Break bigger projects into bite-sized tasks

Personally, this is one of the tips I have found as most helpful. Whenever I have a big project coming up, I try breaking each part of that project into smaller less-time taking tasks. This helps me from not being overwhelmed and gives me direction. 

I would especially recommend this for those of you who find that you have a lack of direction in your work.

  • Take breaks during “work” sessions

I read once in a book that the average focus time for a human being is around 30-45 mins. Yes, that’s all! After that time period, our focus drops gradually until we’re totally distracted and end up procrastinating. 

You need to avoid this by constantly taking breaks and not working for like 6 hours straight. 

Now, interestingly speaking, when I talked to some other people I know, I found that by not taking breaks some people find themselves in a zone and they become more productive that way. 

If this is you, then maybe this tip may not be the best strategy for you. Remember, it’s all about seeking out for our individual needs and if taking breaks during work sessions stops you from being productive, don’t take them. 

  • Set reasonable goals and to-do lists 

Oftentimes, I find myself jamming my to-do list with tasks that don’t all have to be done in one day. Then, I become overwhelmed and distracted because I’m constantly worrying about the load of work I have on my hands. 

This is why I’m suggesting all of you to NOT do this. Know your capability and stamina. You have to set reasonable and accomplishable goals for yourself. 

  • Planning ahead for projects and assignments. 

This means that you have to plan ahead for any projects that you may have. I know at times it may seem like you’re starting too early, but trust me. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Sometimes, I’ve done projects where I thought that I could get a task done really quickly, but when I actually sat down to do it, it took me way longer than expected. Had I started a little early and planned ahead, this may not have happened. That’s why Plan Ahead. 

  • Stay organized

Lastly, you should always make sure you’re organized so that you can efficiently use your time. In my next blog posts, I will be sharing some organizational strategies so make sure to check those out if you want to know about how to stay organized. 

Final Message

After reading this blog post, I assume that all of you know that being productive is all about understanding yourself and using strategies that best fit your “functioning”. 

That being said, another reason why some teenagers struggle to be productive is procrastination. I didn’t touch on procrastination in this post because I thought it was too big of a topic and needed a separate post for itself. 

Check out “What even is procrastination, and why am I procrastinating” to find information about this concept and its reasons. I’ll also be explaining the difference between long-term and short-term procrastination.