Question: I always get into trouble because I keep postponing doing my assignment till the last minute. Actually I prepare a lot. But somehow I am not able to do much. I am a fairly intelligent person. But why do I do that?
Answer: You said you prepare a lot but are not able to finally do much. Could it be that you feel the need to know everything/many things before you can sit down to start writing something? Some individuals find it difficult to move forward and act unless they feel that they are very clear/certain about the topic/matter. But that is not always possible. Perfectionism is good in many ways but it can be a problem if you are not able to be flexible where to apply perfectionism and to what extent. Tip: You may need to gradually practice getting down to actually working on the assignment even before you have read/understood everything thoroughly about the topic. You can start such a practice with smaller and easier topics/ minor assignments first so that you develop more confidence and flexibility over time.
Question: I just don’t like doing the assignments that have been given to me although I am really interested in the course I am doing. This has caused failures and backlogs. I also get very angry when I am told to do some things by my family members.
Answer: Could it be that you find it constraining when you feel that something is imposed on you? May be that makes you feel rebellious and decreases your own motivation to something even though you like the course? It may help you to clarify your own goals and find/have your own reasons for doing things. It may be a good idea to start reminding yourself as to how the things you do on a daily basis may be linked to your goals and dreams. Proactively doing things that help you come closer to your goal will also give others less chance to demand while giving you more chance to experience some sense of space and freedom.
Question: I make a good plan to work on my tasks. But often I end up doing something else depending on what I feel like doing. Later I regret the time I lost on things that are not at all important.
Answer: It is good to have a well thought of plan in place. It is also good to be comfortable about changing the plan depending on the situation/ the need. (Of course we need to be cautious about judging the demand of the situation and not end up giving unnecessary excuses to ourselves!).
However, if you keep changing your good plan every other time simply because of an urge to do something else, then it makes it difficult for you to finish doing what you have to do any way. We should be aware of our feelings and not deny their existence and also take feelings as well as other things in account when deciding what actions to take. But doing something just because I feel like doing it OR not doing something just because I don’t feel like doing it may not always be the wise choice. What may help is to gradually practice doing small things that you think are important even when you don’t feel like doing it. It would be good to pat yourself for the efforts you put in and also to accept some ups and downs during the period when you are trying to develop a new habit. You can also think of taking the support of a buddy to motivate you /appreciate you when you are practicing new ways of dealing with your procrastination.
By: Dr Seema Mehrotra,
Additional Professor, Dept of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS,Bangalore