Challenging Procrastination Excuses

Challenging Procrastination

In previous posts, we talked about how excuses for procrastinating often revolve around some truth of the situation; but that they tend to lead to unhelpful conclusions such as…

  • The truth is “I am really tired” leads to “I am better off doing it after I’ve rested.”
  • The truth is “I will miss out on the fun happening now” leads to “I can always wait till nothing much is happening.”
  • The truth is “I have other things to do” leads to “I will do it once those other things are finished.”

Why are these conclusions unhelpful? Because they ignore the that just going with the situation or how we feel at the time may not actually be the best course of action in the long run. They also often imply that tomorrow will somehow, miraculously be a better time to get productive and follow through. If we always wait for the perfect moment to get something done, we could be waiting a long time. The real truth is that no one specific time is probably ideal for doing something we don’t feel like doing, hence now is just as good as any other time to get cracking. Luckily, one thing we can do to overcome this is to challenge the unhelpful conclusion and come up with a new, more helpful one.

Challenging Your Conclusions

When you’re challenging your unhelpful conclusions, try asking yourself the following questions…

  • What is the factual evidence or reasons that it is better for me to put off this task or goal?
  • What is the factual evidence or reasons that it is better for me to start this task or goal now?
  • Is it really true that I will be better off in the long run delaying this task or goal?
  • Is it really true that I can’t make even a small start on the task or goal right now? Can I still get some parts of the task/goal done now even though conditions aren’t ideal?
  • Is it really true that later on is a better time to do it?
  • If I do make some start on the task or goal right now, what might happen? How might I feel?
  • If I don’t make a start on the task or goal right now, what might happen? How might I feel?

So at the end of the day we are aiming to find new helpful conclusions that spur us into action, and make us realise that our procrastination isn’t justified, that there aren’t reasonable excuses for it, and it is better for us to take action now. Below are examples of new helpful conclusions.

The TruthHelpful Conclusion
I am really tired now.But I can still make a small start right now, and then do the rest later.
I don't want to do it now.But later won't be any better, so I may as well try to get started.
I will miss out on the fun happening now.But if I get some of it done, I can reward myself with other fun later.
I don't have everything I need.But I can still try to make a start on some bits of the task with what I have.
I have plenty of time.But better to get on top of it now than leave it to the last minute.
I don't feel inspired.But if I get started, the inspiration may follow, I can't just wait around for inspiration to arrive.
I have other things to do.But they are not more important and can be done after this.
I don't have enough time to get it all done.But that doesn't mean I can't get some of it done now.
I work better under pressure.But it is still worth making a start now, because if I leave things too late it can backfire.

Stay Tuned…

Want to learn more? Stay tuned next week, we’ll talk about how to continue challenging your conclusions by testing them.

Nicole Paulie is an author, Counselling Psychologist and co-founder of MyMoodandMe. She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.

This blog post was adapted from Module 4: Dismissing Procrastination Excuses.

Challenging Excuses for Procrastination
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