Triggers for procrastination
Here is the vicious cycle which I have found myself in:
- In procrastination mode. When I'm procrastinating, I feel constantly in a low mood. I tend to stay in this low mood until something drastic happens - I get inspired by reading an article or just feel really motivated to change.
- I go through a good period of being happy and productive. I start to think that I've finally changed.
- All of a sudden, I start procrastinating again. And once this happens, no matter what I try, I can't seem to get back into that happy and productive mode again.
I've identified that the reason for step 3 is personal triggers or actions which makes you feel like procrastinating again.
A personal example.
Two weeks ago, I got inspired and started to be productive again. I thought I was making really good progress towards full time change. I started to work on my to do lists without any anxiousness or feeling of avoidance. I felt really productive and most importantly, I felt happy with myself. This lasted for about a week.
Then one day, I felt really tired. I had been working hard all week so I decided to have a day of rest, watching movies. But for some reason, whilst watching my movies, I started to feel really guilty and worryingly anxious. It felt like I had this nagging feeling that I should be doing something else; something more productive.
Then it hit me. The feeling I was experiencing is EXACTLY the same feeling that I always get when I'm procrastinating on something.
The weird thing is, I didn't have anything to procrastinate on! Usually, I procrastinate heavily on Uni work, which then permeates into my social and home life. But I've finished university and I had no other major projects or things to do. I felt so confused - I felt like I was avoiding something, but I couldn't figure out what that something was!
It is crucial to note that even though I wasn't technically procrastinating on a definitive thing like university work, it was still hugely detrimental to my life. The mere fact that it brought upon anxiousness and a constant low mood, normally associated with procrastination, made me: start to avoid friends again; stop working on my to do lists; start binge eating on unhealthy foods again; start having a really short temper again; and I couldn't get to sleep, let alone have a good night sleep.
So why did I suddenly start to feel that way?
Well I think the key fact is this:
for me, when I used to procrastinate on uni work, one of the things I would do was watch movies in my bedroom all day long (sometimes throughout the night into the morning). I think that the act of watching movies, particularly in my bedroom where I'm in isolation, has become a sort of subconcious trigger which activates all the feelings I get when I procrastinate: anxiousness, feeling of avoidance, low mood etc.
This explains why I felt like I was procrastinating, even though I wasn't. My brain must've been thinking I was procrastinating because of the trigger of watching movies.
Other triggers and a potential solution
Since then, I've identified other triggers that bring upon the exact same feelings to me: when I play snooker, when I eat unhealthy food, when I have to do university coursework, when friends are ahead with their coursework, when my long distance girlfriend has to return home. These are just the ones that I've found so far. I'm sure if I look deeper, there would be a lot more and less obvious triggers.
There is still the problem of what to do once you've identified those triggers - even though I identified that watching movies was one of my triggers, I still couldn't stop myself from procrastinating chronically for the next 2 weeks or so. My idea is that maybe there is some way that we could identify all of our own triggers, and then somehow turn them around to be good, healthy triggers instead.
Conversely, perhaps we could identify all the good triggers; the inspirational things that brings us to step 2, and somehow use that to help us overcome our chronic procrastination.
p.s. I've tried to put this in the best wording I can - I struggle with my limited vocabulary and bad grammar. I just hope that my overall idea is projected clearly enough...