Why do we do it?
We’re running around furiously trying to finish a task before the deadline wondering why you didn’t start earlier.
Even though you have important tasks, it hasn’t stopped you from checking social media ten times in the past hour.
It seems impossible to finish a task. You decided to load the washing machine while you’re doing your taxes, but you end up doing neither.
So if you’re fed up with a washing machine on standby, and unfinished taxes, then overcoming procrastination with meditation may help.
In this article, I’ll hopefully help you understand why we procrastinate better, and how meditation can help you get more done and easier.
To effectively combat procrastination, you first need to understand it.
Procrastination is often a psychological response to an unpleasant task.
We might avoid starting a project because we’re afraid of failing, or we might put off an assignment because it feels overwhelming.
In many cases, stress and anxiety play a significant role in procrastination.
When we’re stressed or anxious, our brains can go into a sort of “survival mode” where we avoid anything that seems threatening or difficult.
The impact of procrastination can be far-reaching.
On a personal level, it can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and increased stress. Professionally, procrastination can lead to missed deadlines, poor performance, and even job loss.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Reasons Why We Procrastinate
Fear of failure
We often procrastinate because we’re scared of not meeting expectations, be it our own or those of others. It’s a defense mechanism – if we don’t start, we can’t fail, right?
When faced with a mountain of tasks or a particularly daunting project, our instinct is often to bury our heads in the sand. It’s the classic ‘deer in the headlights’ scenario.
This might seem counterintuitive, but striving for perfection can actually lead to procrastination. We delay starting because we’re waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment, or we keep putting off finishing because it’s just not ‘perfect’ yet.
Lack of motivation
Sometimes, we simply don’t feel like doing the task at hand. It could be boring, or irrelevant, or we might just be having an off day.
Poor organization can lead to procrastination. Without a clear plan or schedule, tasks can seem more daunting than they really are.
Fear of success
Fear of success is another surprising culprit. The thought of being swamped with more tasks after successfully completing one can be daunting.
If we can’t decide what to do, we’ll likely put off taking action in case we do the wrong thing.
Understanding why we procrastinate is the first step toward overcoming it. So, now that we’ve identified the culprits, let’s explore how meditation can help us tackle them head-on.
Meditation for Procrastination
Meditation is a practice that has been used for thousands of years to promote relaxation, focus, and self-awareness.
At its core, meditation involves focusing your attention and eliminating the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress.
This process can result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common:
- a quiet location with as few distractions as possible
- a specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, etc.)
- a focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words)
- an object, or the sensations of the breath)
- and an open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them)
Some of the most common types of meditation include:
- Mindfulness meditation: This type of meditation is based on having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment.
You broaden your conscious awareness and focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath.
- Spiritual meditation: This form of meditation is used in various spiritual disciplines and is similar to prayer in that you reflect on the silence around you and seek a deeper connection with your universe or God.
- Focused meditation: This involves concentration using any of the five senses. For example, you can focus on something internal, like your breath, or you can bring in external influences to help focus your attention.
The Science Behind How Meditation Works
The science behind how meditation works is fascinating.
Studies have shown that regular meditation can change the way our brains respond to stress and anxiety, leading to long-term improvements in mental health.
Meditation has been found to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and it can also increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive functions like focusing, planning, and impulse control.
The benefits of meditation go beyond stress reduction. Regular practice can improve your focus and attention, increase your sense of empathy and compassion, enhance your creativity, and even boost your memory.
It’s a powerful tool for not only managing stress and anxiety but also for improving your overall quality of life.
In the next section, we’ll explore how these benefits of meditation can specifically help in overcoming procrastination.
The Connection Between Meditation and Procrastination
So, how does meditation help in overcoming procrastination?
It lies in the way meditation changes our brain and our response to stress and anxiety.
When we procrastinate, we’re often avoiding tasks that make us feel uncomfortable or anxious.
Meditation helps us manage these feelings more effectively, making it easier to tackle those daunting tasks.
One of the key ways meditation helps is by promoting mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment.
When we’re mindful, we’re more aware of our thoughts and feelings, which means we’re better equipped to deal with them in a healthy way.
Instead of getting swept up in anxiety about a big project, we can acknowledge our feelings and then make a plan to tackle the task head-on.
Mindfulness also helps us break the cycle of habitual procrastination.
By bringing our attention back to the present, we can make conscious decisions instead of falling into old patterns. We can choose to start a task now instead of putting it off until later.
There’s a growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of meditation in overcoming procrastination.
For example, a study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found that mindfulness training helped participants reduce their procrastination.
Another study in the Journal of Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience found that regular meditation can change the structure of the brain in ways that make us more likely to take action.
Meditation helps us manage the uncomfortable feelings that often lead to procrastination, and it changes our brain in ways that make us more action-oriented.
It’s a powerful tool for anyone looking to overcome procrastination and become more productive. In the next section, we’ll provide a practical guide to using meditation to overcome procrastination.
Practical Guide to Using Meditation to Overcome Procrastination
Now that we understand the connection between meditation and procrastination, let’s explore how to practically apply meditation techniques to overcome procrastination.
Step-by-step guide to practicing mindfulness meditation
- Find a quiet and comfortable place. This could be a dedicated corner of your room, a peaceful outdoor spot, or anywhere you feel relaxed and undisturbed.
- Sit comfortably. You can sit on a chair, on the floor, or anywhere you can sit upright comfortably.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat this a few times to help your body relax.
- Focus on your breath. Pay attention to the sensation of your breath coming in and going out. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
- Observe your thoughts without judgment. If you notice thoughts arising, don’t try to suppress them. Instead, observe them as if you’re a neutral third party. Then, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
- Start with short sessions. Even just a few minutes of meditation can be beneficial. As you get more comfortable with the practice, you can gradually increase your meditation time.
Specific meditation techniques for overcoming procrastination
- Mindfulness meditation: As discussed earlier, mindfulness meditation can be particularly effective for managing the stress and anxiety that often lead to procrastination.
By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to observe your procrastination triggers without getting swept up in them.
- Visualization: This technique involves visualizing yourself completing the task you’re procrastinating on.
Imagine the steps you need to take, the challenges you might face, and the satisfaction of completing the task. This can help make the task feel more manageable and less intimidating.
- Loving-kindness meditation: This form of meditation involves sending feelings of love and kindness to yourself and others.
It can be particularly helpful for dealing with the negative self-talk that often accompanies procrastination.
Tips for Making Meditation a Daily Habit
- Start small: Don’t try to meditate for an hour right off the bat. Start with just a few minutes each day and gradually increase your meditation time as you get more comfortable with the practice.
- Be consistent: Try to meditate at the same time each day to help establish a routine. This could be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or right before bed.
- Don’t judge yourself: Some days, meditation will feel easy. On other days, it might feel like a struggle. That’s perfectly normal. The important thing is to keep showing up for your practice without judging yourself.
Incorporating meditation into your daily routine can be a game-changer when it comes to overcoming procrastination.
It’s not a quick fix, but with consistent practice, you’ll likely find that tasks become less daunting and that you’re more able to tackle them head-on.
In the next section, we’ll explore some real-life examples and case studies that illustrate the effectiveness of meditation in managing procrastination.
Meditation is a powerful tool for overcoming procrastination. It helps us manage the stress and anxiety that often lead to procrastination, promotes mindfulness, and changes our brain in ways that make us more action-oriented.
The practical techniques and real-life examples discussed in this article illustrate how meditation can be incorporated into daily life to combat procrastination.
Remember, the journey to overcoming procrastination is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and consistent practice. So, why not start today? Begin your meditation practice and take the first step towards a more productive and fulfilling life.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.