Procrastination – What can be done against pathological postponing?

WE GLADLY POSTPONE THINGS THAT DO NOT GIVE US ANY JOY. Are there papers gathering on your table that you have been wanting to sort for ages? Have you still not got the bills for your tax declaration together? Welcome to the daily problems of many people. But there are also people who postpone incredibly important tasks for so long that negative consequences start to loom. This is then considered a pathological form of procrastination. But what are its causes and what can you do against this habit?

Prokrastination bei der Arbeit
What exactly is procrastination?

“There is nothing good unless you do it.” Erich Kästner already knew this. Procrastinators are also aware of this fact. But they can’t help postponing or completely avoiding tasks. Procrastination is therefore a pathological form of postponement, which causes great distress to those who suffer from it. Instead of devoting their time to the important tasks before their deadlines, they take care of other, more pleasant things. This causes problems and stress, leading to deadlines not being observed.

This clinical picture is particularly frequent in people who can arrange their time freely. The pathological behaviour could already be noted during their school days, and is then continued. Sometimes, “postponitis” is also based on mental disorders. These include, among others, anxiety disorders, ADHD or depression. Stress and chronic postponing often go together. Inversely, chronic postponing can even lead to a mental disorder itself. Procrastination has nothing to do with laziness, instead with a self control disorder.

What are the causes for procrastination?

People who postpone things often have problems with the following factors:

These behaviours are learned over the years.
There comes a time where it becomes an automatic habit that is difficult to throw off.

When can “postponitis” be considered pathological?

Almost everyone dawdles and postpones things, especially when it comes to unpleasant tasks. However, when this becomes a habit and leads to consequences, then it is called procrastination. These can include loss of job, abandonment of studies and delayed appointments. This causes distress in the lives of the people affected by it. They suffer from stress and pressure. The next deadline looms up and the fear of it does as well. There is no principle to determine when “postponitis” should be treated. As soon as postponing causes distress in the person’s studies, work or private life, there is a need for treatment. With the help of a standardised questionnaire, it can be determined where the person’s individual problem areas lie.

What can be done against procrastination?

Depending on where the person’s individual problems lie, various approaches can be used. The forms of professional support include counselling, psychotherapy or group settings. A therapy can be helpful in particular when the problem is caused by a mental disorder. It aims to improve self control. This is why cognitive behavioural therapy is particularly well-suited to treat “postponitis”. It should thereby be ensured that the following is learned:

  • Dealing with deflection and negative emotions
  • Changing habits
  • Exercising a different work behaviour
  • Learning new structures when working
  • Setting realistic goals

Depending on the person, the various deficits should be turned into strengths. Procrastinators can however also do things themselves in order to change their behaviour with the following 8 tips.




8 tips against procrastination

Aufschieben mit Kaffee
Together towards the goal, instead of alone in a vicious circle!​

Pathological postponing can have burdensome consequences for you and your daily life. However, there are many methods that work against it. If you need support in this, do not hesitate to contact experts.

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