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What Does Procrastination Do To Your Happiness?

What Does Procrastination Do To Your Happiness?

In September 2014, two British professors wanted to find out what happens when students do not hand over their assignments on time. Their study threw up an alarming surprise, which, if the students knew, would make them give up procrastination forever.

First, the professors David Arnott and Scott Dacko decided to define the procrastinators as the ones who wouldn’t submit their end-of-term tasks until the last day. Then they dipped into five years of submission data on 777 marketing students from their own Warwick Business School, and found that while each of these students had four weeks or more to hand over their assignments, only about a hundred had done so before the last day. The rest (669 of them) waited out until the last 24 hours to submit their task.

That is, 86% of them were procrastinators.

In a different study at the University of Vermont done in 1984, it was found that 46% of the students had reported they procrastinate writing academic papers. But even that figure might not the surprise all of you. Students are known to be ‘natural-born’ procrastinators to school homework across the world. Everybody knows how busy the lives of young college-goers can be. So, 86% could seem unsurprisingly normal.

The real surprise uncovered itself in the final 24 hours. As they analyzed the data, Arnott and Dacko found a disturbing pattern emerge as the last day of the submission had begun. The students taking another hour from here on started getting lower marks. It was happening by the hour. For example, someone who submitted at 3pm got lower marks than those who did at 2pm.

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It was as if every passing hour was chipping away their scores. The worse the procrastination, the worse were the marks. So clear was the pattern that those who handed in their assignments at the last minute, had the worst grades of all. In fact, these last-minute guys saw a full 5% drop in their marks over those who had checked in their tasks before the start of the last day.
Now, mind it, those five percentage points are substantial for students, because they could well translate into a half or a whole letter lower grade. A possibly ‘B’ could end up getting ‘C+’, just because they handed in their tasks late.

What Procrastination Does To Your Happiness?

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    The verdict is out: Good things don’t always come to those who… procrastinate. Procrastination takes away your happiness. It has been proven over many studies and surveys.

    Procrastination Research Group carried out a survey with over 10,000 respondents, and found that 94% of them reported that procrastination indeed does have some negative effect on their happiness.

    According to Procrastination and Science, almost 70% of the procrastinators were found to be less happy than an average person.

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    As the Warwick study showed, when the students waited until the last minute to tie up their assignments, they got the worst grades.

    Habitual procrastination could damage relationships, create an unflattering reputation of carelessness, and invite setbacks in career and work prospects. Procrastinators frequently resort to lies to reason out their delays, and are often found out, leading to disastrous consequences. And you could swear that all of that can take away a sizable bit of their happiness.

    The big culprit here is regret. It’s a story that goes around in a predictable circle: Procrastinators begin with hope, then go into anxiety, guilt and self-criticism, and end up in regret. Next project, same cycle.

    What Do You Know About Procrastination?

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      Procrastination is not taking action. It is avoiding starting something you mean to start. It is avoiding finishing something you’re supposed to finish. It is doing something else, or lots of something else, when you know you should be doing a certain important thing.

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      Experts classify it into two types – decisional (putting off taking decisions) and avoidant (putting off doing things).

      Perhaps, all of us procrastinate at some of the times. While some of us do it more, and some less, but the truth is none of us do it all of the time.

      The three main areas of our life that we procrastinate on are education, career, and health.

      1. Education: We saw in the opening paragraphs how pervasive is procrastination in the education field. For many of us, this problem can be traced back to our earliest school years when we were perhaps slow learners, and got labeled by our peers and teachers. And we carry the label long after school.
      2. Career: On the career front, most of us know at least one person who despises his current job and desperately wants to change it, but doesn’t. Like a lost soul swimming in circles in a small fish bowl, perpetually planning to dive out into bigger water, but never makes the jump. That lost soul is often the person we know the best – our own self. Are you sure that person isn’t you?
      3. Health: We’re really bad procrastinators when it comes to health. Think of the new year’s day health goals that you set for yourself and kept delaying starting out on them, year after year. Think of that regular half-hour yoga that never came around, or those eight glasses of water or those eight hours of sleep that could never become a reality. That smoking habit that you left and picked up back so many times that you feel ashamed to even whisper it.

      Why Do We Procrastinate?

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        Procrastinators have a complicated relationship with time, and often believe Time is up against them and they have outsmart it somehow. But even then, procrastination is not just an matter of time-management. Rather, it is a complex psychological problem with deep roots into self-esteem issues.

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        The main reasons that make procrastination likely are:

        1. Uninteresting: We delay doing it till eternity because we find the work utterly boring and without any fun. That comes from the human nature’s basic Pain-Pleasure Principle – we run from painful activities and go after pleasurable ones. Scientists call it task aversiveness.
        2. Impulsiveness: Procrastinators have been found to be largely impulsive too. Being impulsive, they fail to handle their goals effectively, and keep jumping from task to task leaving most of those unfinished. Some researchers even argue that procrastination is a by-product of impulsiveness, even when these two behaviors seem polar opposites (just give it a thought!).
        3. Low Confidence: We don’t feel sure of our abilities and presence that we can tackle something effectively. We don’t do things because of fear of failure or even fear of success. This is the issue of low self-esteem that is believed to be the strongest reason.
        4. Anxiety: We have often felt that when a deadline is right upon us, we end up procrastinating more. That is anxiety causing us to procrastinate. In that anxiety, we drive ourselves busy doing everything else other than the project at hand. Suddenly, our desk clutter needs to be cleared immediately, and our cars need to be taken for service.
        5. Goal Problems: When the goals are not clear, or the goals lie too far into the future, or there are no goals at all, we procrastinate.
        6. Perfectionism: People who search for perfection often end up procrastinating. Perfectionism in certain fields is demanded by default, as in competitive sports and classical music. But for most, this is a handicap that leads to an unending delay in finishing things.
        7. Heredity: Procrastination could be 46% heritable, as a study on 347 Colorado twins indicated. Which means there is half a chance that you may have got it from your parents. But remember, that’s half a chance. The rest is how your environment molded you into.
        8. Mental Illness: Procrastination has been found to occur in some serious psychological illnesses, as borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety, addiction problems, as well as in strained relationships.

        How Can We Beat Procrastination With Science?

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          1. Avoid Procrastination. This is the best method. As the professors hoped after the Warwick study that the teachers recognize the habitual procrastinators in time, and help them change their study habits. To do this, set clear goals with realistic timelines, break each goal into many sub-goals, and measure and review progress at fixed time-points.
          2. Get A Growth Mindset: This is a concept researched and presented by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” she writes. Building into yourself a growth mindset can increase your self-worth, and help take new tasks as challenges to thrive on rather than shirk from.
          3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy that centers around accepting what is outside your personal control, and committing to action that enriches your life. It has shown remarkable short-term as well as long-term effects in decreasing procrastination, especially academic procrastination. If you want to learn mindfulness quickly, here’s how: Mindfulness in 7 Steps.

          Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek/picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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          Sandip Roy

          Medical Doctor

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          Last Updated on November 9, 2020

          10 Good Habits to Have in Life to Be More Successful

          10 Good Habits to Have in Life to Be More Successful

          Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. Many good habits to have will enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and getting ready for work. 

          Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without thinking twice. Your unconscious daily habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

          Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

          • Habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life, such as brushing teeth or getting dressed.
          • Good habits to have to be more successful, like eating healthy, exercising, and reading books.
          • Habits that are harmful, like procrastinating, smoking, or overeating.

          Good habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

          While much of the emphasis falls on bad habits to break, it’s just as important to focus on good habits to have and cultivate in your daily routine.

          Here, we’ll talk about 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

          1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

          I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to place yourself in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

          Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

          Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

          2. Be Grateful for What You Have

          It’s not uncommon to waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

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          Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Try writing a list of things you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal, or make it a habit to say one thing you’re grateful for when you sit down to dinner with your family.

          3. Smile

          Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

          Now, here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile, or what’s called a Duchenne smile, is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional, and mental peace of mind.[1]

          Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. However, once you adjust yourself by putting on a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

          4. Start Your Day With a Healthy Breakfast

          Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[2]

          If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to “break your fast” with healthy foods every morning.

          This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

          Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

          5. Exercise Daily

          One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles on a daily basis. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift tons of weights. You only need to engage in activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body, trying to squeeze in at least 15 minutes every day.

          Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[3] He said:

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          “I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.”

          He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

          6. Manage Your Time

          Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way toward impacting your achievement.

          Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life[4].

          Good habits to have: Time management tips

            So how do you manage your time effectively?

            Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events:

            “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

            And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme layout:[5]

            • Monday – Management
            • Tuesday – Product
            • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
            • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
            • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
            • Saturdays – Taking off
            • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

            No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

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            Check out more time management tips here: 7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity

            7. Set Daily Goals With Intentions

            Everyone has goals, whether they relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

            Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on, but when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

            Here’s the main truth: Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

            “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

            8. Seek Inspiration

            It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

            A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning (after meditation), watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

            Establish what Anthony Robbins called the “hour of power.” Determine how many minutes you spend, but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

            Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, puts it this way[7]:

            “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivate me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. Becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

            9. Save Steadily, Invest With All Prudence

            I can’t exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

            However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your funds and be wise with them. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself up for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

            If you’re looking for a simple way to save money, check out the following video:

            10. Budget and Track Your Spending

            Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said:

            “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

            It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

            Budgeting is a good habit to have, and it can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future instead.

            The Bottom Line

            Endeavor to start developing good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you will achieve your goals.

            More About Cultivating Good Habits

            Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

            Reference

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