Decisions, decisions…

What do we want? An end to procrastination! When do we want it? We’re not sure…

Procrastination is the thief of time…

We all procrastinate from time to time.

Procrastination can be useful if it means you can better perform a task at a later date. But unintentional procrastination can be problematic and it’s important to deal with it.

Procrastination can exert a detrimental effect on your health if you put off exercise or going to the doctor. It can affect exam performance and results, career choices and interpersonal relationships.

Research shows that people who regularly procrastinate say that it affects their lives and can even make them feel anxious, guilty and ashamed.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is being used to help procrastinators become more decisive. It is unclear how CBT specifically benefits procrastinators, but it has been shown to stop people procrastinating by enforcing useful actions.

CBT aims to change problematic behaviours and replace them with more useful ones. It has proved effective for certain mental health disorders, such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder by teaching people how to cope with anxiety.

Researchers from Stockholm University asked student volunteers to fill out a questionnaire that assigned them a procrastination score on a scale of 1 to 60 – procrastinators were those who scored 40 or above.

Over a period of eight weeks – the average length for a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – the researchers tested CBT on two levels.

48 participants received weekly online sessions that provided them with reading materials, exercises and advice. Another 44 participants received fortnightly face-to-face sessions in groups of 12, which were led by two therapists.

At the end of both types of CBT course, all the participants showed great improvements. Scores dropped by around 10 points and by the end of the treatment, 34% of participants stopped putting things off and achieved scores similar to the average population. The participants also saw improvements in their ability to cope with anxiety and improvements in their wellbeing. They also saw improvements in their academic performance.

But… six months later, only those who had received face-to-face sessions continued to benefit, and by a further four points. This kind of group therapy could be more successful because it helps people to hear from, and be supported by, others who have had similar experiences whereas those who had only online sessions slipped back to their original state.

 

Copyright Andrew Newton 2017. All rights reserved.