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Procrastination Blossoms During Holiday Season

With the holidays right around corner, many might be scrambling to accomplish those last-minute yuletide tasks. But putting off projects can lead to unnecessary stress and frustration. KSMU’s Brett Moser reports on what causes procrastination and tips to overcome it.

It’s late at night December 24th. You’re frantically wrapping presents, baking cookies, assembling toys, and you still haven’t even decorated the Christmas tree.

These holiday chores can pile up and seem so overwhelming that avoiding them altogether seems like the best approach.

But Dr. Wayne Mitchell, a psychology professor at Missouri State University, says procrastination is caused by how individuals view time and their work load.

He says humans base decisions to work or not on different types of reinforcement. If we’re positively rewarded for a behavior, we’re more likely to repeat it in the future. Likewise, we respond to negative emotions with behaviors to make them go away. Mitchell says taking on tasks don’t offer enough instant gratification.

According to Mitchell, anxiety and fear are driving forces behind procrastination, but they don’t help.

Dr. Marilyn Martin directs Management Development Institute, an organization offering seminars related to workplace management. She says procrastinators tend to view projects as cumbersome tasks that appear huge and undoable. Martin adds a shift in mindset is a step in the right direction.

Martin encourages procrastinators to plan stopping points when they reach a certain goal. When responsibilities seem to pile up, she advises prioritizing and sometimes delegating smaller tasks to others.

For KSMU News, I’m Brett Moser.