Procrastination: Pandemic Problems and Finding Solutions

Has your work schedule been overwhelming and difficult to control because there is a lack of daily structure in your life? Do you have to work at home and your only source of motivation comes from knowing you have upcoming deadlines? Do you stay up too late working only to be too tired and more behind the next day? If you said yes to any of these questions, you are certainly not alone, as this has been the experience for thousands of people during the COVID-19 pandemic.


If you’re like me, you probably been trying to fill you schedule with distractions just to stay motivated or find some sort of fulfillment whether it be working multiple jobs while taking college courses, filling out applications in your spare time, cleaning your house multiple times a week, binging Netflix for hours on end, or scrolling through hours of reels on Instagram or Tik Tok. Then, when you make all these plans, you have a tendency to procrastinate on them until you absolutely have to do them. As it turns out, this is a completely normal reaction according to National Geographic in their new article “Are you procrastinating more? Blame the pandemic” by Nicole Johnson.


What is the root of the problem, and how can we fix it?


In the article, Johnson includes a quote by Tim Pychyl, who is a psychology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario which reads: “Procrastination is an emotion-focused coping strategy” explaining why procrastination may be such a common occurrence in people’s lives (par. 3). The article goes on to emphasize the science behind this reaction by stating “when strong emotions such as anxiety and fear become overwhelming, the impulsive limbic system (which is responsible for a person’s impulsive behavior, and desire for instant gratification) can still win out. And that’s when we put off more daunting tasks for the temporary relief” (par. 9). 


Although, the article also emphasizes and details possible routes for relief and improvement regarding procrastination and it’s causes by emphasizing that practices that encourage mindfulness and self-compassion can help, and this is because these practices are about overcoming negative emotions.


So, what are some steps you can take?


One good place to start is investing some time in developing hobbies that practice or encourage mindfulness and self-compassion such as journaling, playing an instrument, meditation, or even reading. When choosing an activity, pick something that is a more soothing experience and allows you to relax and contemplate.


It may also be beneficial for you to consider associating your tasks with positive experiences such as getting better grades, improving your education experience, allowing yourself to relax after you finish, and overall just being able to feel accomplished after all the work you had completed. The overall goal is to find satisfaction in and outside of your work through positive experiences.