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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 January 13, 2020

          50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

          50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

          Let’s face it – no matter how excited you are about a new project or priority in your life, there will always be days when your motivation lags. Days when – despite all the progress you’ve made in the past – it just sounds easier to sit on the couch playing video games than to buckle down and crank out the work needed to meet your goals.

          In order to be successful, you must be able to motivate yourself past these humps. Whenever you feel your drive and determination lagging, turn to these motivational quotes for work to provide the extra spark of passion needed to keep you on track.

          Quotes about Goal Setting

          Whether you’re still in the planning phases of your business or whether you’re plotting a plan of attack to bring about your long-range vision, setting good goals is a critical part of succeeding in business.

          Check out these quotes for extra inspiration on how to turn your dreams into reality:

          quote-Benjamin-E.-Mays-the-tragedy-in-life-doesnt-lie-in-106113

            “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”– Benjamin Mays


            “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.”–Mark Victor Hansen


            “Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty.”–William J. Bennett – The Book of Virtues


            “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer… He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”–Robert L. Schwartz

            Quotes about Achieving Excellence in Work

            Once you’ve got your goals together, you’ll need to put in 110% of your effort in order to transform these visions into reality. To increase your motivation to work at a consistently high level, take a look at the following words of wisdom:

            “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”–Aristotle


            “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”–Charles R. Swindoll

            Desire is the key to motivation

              “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”–Mario Andretti


              “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”–Pearl Buck


              “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”–Vince Lombardi

              Quotes about Determination and Persistence

              Since every business or other endeavor is bound to hit some rough patches, it’s often a person’s level of determination and patience that brings about either success or failure. These positive quotes give you an extra boost of encouragement:

              “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”–Paul J. Meyer


              “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”–Hal Borland


              “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”–Calvin Coolidge

              quote-Thomas-Fuller-an-invincible-determination-can-accomplish-almost-anything-92190

                “An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.”–Thomas Fuller

                Quotes about Leadership

                Whether you use it to engage your employees, to encourage teamwork or motivate others to follow your unique way of thinking, leadership is crucial. Take your leadership cues from these renowned leaders’ famous sayings:

                “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren G. Bennis


                “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”–John Kenneth Galbraith

                Leadership is not magnetic personality

                  “Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”–Peter F. Drucker


                  “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”–John Buchan


                  “High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.”–George Orwell

                  Quotes for Success

                  Think of success as a holistic process – one which results from the combination of goal-setting, excellence, patience, determination and leadership you prioritize throughout your career. These highly successful people provide you with an excellent source of motivation:

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                  “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”–Stephen Covey


                  “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale

                  Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

                    “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”–Winston Churchill


                    “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”–John Maxwell


                    “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”– Thomas J. Watson


                    “The great successful men of the world have used their imagination.  They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building – steadily building.”–Robert Collier


                    “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”–Arnold Toynbee

                    Sports Quotes for Athletes

                    You don’t need to be a Michael Jordan-caliber athlete to draw inspiration from the following quotes. Even if you’re just a recreational player or someone who’s using sports as a means to get back in shape after long periods of inactivity, the following motivational sports quotes will encourage you:

                    “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”–Michael Jordan


                    “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”–Lance Armstrong

                    Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.

                      “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”–Arnold Schwarzenegger


                      “I know what I have to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I do it, I’ll come out a winner, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.”–Florence Griffith Joyner


                      “Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100% – You make it that much easier for me to beat you.”–Unknown


                      “If you are hurt, whether in mind or body, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and light-heartedly, courageously, good temperedly get ready for the next encounter. This is the only way to take life – this is also ‘playing’ the game!”–Emily Post


                      “We must train from the inside out. Using our strengths to attack and nullify any weaknesses. It’s not about denying a weakness may exist but about denying its right to persist.”–Vince McConnell

                      Quotes to Motivate Learning

                      Committing yourself to pursuing knowledge in a single area is a tremendous endeavor – one that often seems overwhelming given the depth and breadth of information that’s available today. Keep the following motivational quotes in mind if you’re learning:

                      “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”–George Washington Carver

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                        “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”–William Arthur Ward


                        “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”– Aristotle


                        “Success is not the key to happiness.Happiness is the key to success.If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”–Albert Schweitzer


                        “Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it, merely to show that you have one.”–Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield


                        “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”–Chinese Proverb


                        “Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”–William Arthur Ward


                        “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life’.”–Helen Exley


                        “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”–Chinese Proverb

                        All-Time Favorite Positive Quotes

                        Finally, whatever your goals are in life, you can’t go wrong by taking the advice of the following famous motivational quotes:

                        “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”–Norman Vincent Peale


                        “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”–Steve Jobs


                        “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”–Maria Robinson


                        “Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.”–Albert Einstein


                        “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”–Lyndon Johnson

                        If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

                          “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”–Thomas Edison


                          “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky


                          “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”–Winston Churchill


                          “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

                          Final Thoughts

                          To use these motivational quotes effectively, find the one that speaks to you. Although all of the phrases listed above can be considered “motivational,” only you can decide which one resonates with you most directly.

                          Next, take the quote you’ve settled on and copy it onto small index cards or other pieces of paper that can be stored around your home and workspace.

                          If you’re creative, you can create inspiration boards, signs or other decorative displays featuring your favorite motivational quotes – really, though, the most important thing is that your chosen phrase be accessible in a variety of different places. This will make it easy to access and review whenever you feel your motivation slipping away.

                          More Inspiring Quotes

                          Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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