The existing research makes it quite clear that procrastination is a problem with emotion regulation. When we face negative emotions like frustration, resentment, boredom or anxiety that are associated with a task, we procrastinate on the task in order to regulate our emotions. I say regulate because that’s the effect in the short-term, but the simple truth is we’re mis-regulating our emotions because these tasks typically don’t go away.
We won't feel like it tomorrow, but we will probably feel more stress and even some self-loathing.
Feeling. That's the story here. It's about our emotions, and we have to learn to deal more effectively with our emotions if we want to procrastinate less.
Recent research reveals that our emotional regulation skills matter. More importantly, this research demonstrates that we can learn specific skills that will reduce our procrastination.
If we learn to tolerate and modify aversive emotions, we will procrastinate less.
If you want to learn more about emotion regulation skills and even take a brief emotion regulation skills survey read How to Use Psychology to Solve the Procrastination Puzzle (note this is a link available through Medium's new Membership program – well worth checking it out, but be aware of the fee structure. Alternatively, you can learn more about the research here).
The take away message is clear, If we don’t learn to tolerate or modify the aversive emotions that make some tasks so unpleasant to us, we’ll be likely to procrastinate. The good news is these are learnable skills.
Eckert, M.,, Ebert, D.D., Lehr, D., & Berking, M. (2016). Overcome procrastination: Enhancing emotion regulation skills reduce procrastination. Learning and Individual Differences, 52,10-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2016.10.001