Sunday, June 19, 2016

A failure of emotional regulation

I recently read a study about the impact of procrastination’s on the workplace. 

Ferrari’s research assessed over twenty thousand people and found that procrastination was statistically associated with lower salaries, lower well being, shorter durations of employment and a greater likelihood of being unemployed.

But what’s truly revelatory about the study is, researchers found that procrastination wasn’t merely a failure of professional execution, but a failure of emotional regulation. 

Turns out, the real reason people procrastinate is in attempt to avoid the anxiety or worry aroused by a difficult task. Instead of doing the work, we engage in activities aimed at repairing our mood, like taking a nap or eating a snack or checking our inbox or calculating our social media likes. 

Whatever it takes to get our shot of dopamine. 

But this pattern, which psychologists call giving in to feel good, actually makes procrastinators feel worse later, when they face the consequences of missing a deadline or making a hasty, last minute effort. 

And so, in those moments when we experience the urge to procrastinate, we might ask ourselves what feelings we’re trying not to feel. What emotions we’re trying to suppress. 

Because once we name them, we can claim them. And once we claim them, we can set them aside and activate a real and healthy mood boost, namely, one that comes from doing something we intend to do. From the pride of having lived up to our expectations for ourselves. From making meaning in accordance with our values. 

How do you emotionally regulate when procrastination isn’t an option?
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Scott Ginsberg
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