Everybody has those moments where you feel guilty for procrastinating, where you feel guilty for not doing the tasks you set for yourself or achieving the best you can. If you feel guilt for not doing enough, that is what we call productivity guilt. We all say that we will try better next time but we know that’s a lie.
Although, the first thought when you read the word ‘procrastinate’ is laziness. The next thing that you relate procrastination to is university students. However, there are more reasons as to why people procrastinate than most think, and sometimes you may not even realise it. A 2010 study found that one of the reasons why students procrastinate is because of a “failure to self-regulate”. Another reason why students procrastinate is due to low self-confidence. It does not take a group of researchers or a scientist to work this one out for us, we have all come across students who do not try as hard because they don’t think they have what it takes, you may even be that student.
While procrastinating, not achieving your goals and low self-confidence may seem like impossible mountains to climb, that same 2010 study offers a simple solution; self-forgiveness. The conclusion the researchers came to was that: “Learning to forgive the self for procrastinating will likely be beneficial by reducing procrastination.” Not only will it help with procrastination but think of the positive effect that will have on someone’s mental health.
While forgiving oneself may seem like an easy task, it takes more than just looking in the mirror and saying: “I’m sorry!” You have to be able to calm yourself down after every unproductive day, accept that you are the one to blame and pick yourself up. Seems more daunting now, doesn’t it? Not to worry, I have done the research for you so you do not have to.
So, to start, there are four stages to self-forgiveness, as written in an article published on VeryWellMind, by Kendra Cherry:
- Responsibility – Acknowledge the mistake you have made, mentally take note of how and why you were not as productive as you could have been. You have to come to terms with all of this so you do not start making excuses to make yourself feel better because then you will become used to excusing yourself. If you have a diary or notebook, write all of this down (the what, how and why) as expressing it onto paper may be more helpful for some.
- Remorse – Obviously, admitting that you have done wrong and let yourself down is going to bring some very derogatory thoughts and feelings. Let those feelings come out, bottling them up is not going to do you any good and will make you feel worse. Just like stated in the previous bullet point, write your feelings down in a diary so you’re not storing them all up in your head. Or you can get into contact with a close friend or family member who will let you unload to them.
- Restoration – Once you have released all those toxic feelings, you can begin the process of rebuilding yourself. No this does not mean you have to chang yourself and become a whole different person. This stage is your chance to come up with solutions and ways to become more productive. So you can create a schedule of the things you need to do every day. You can set daily, weekly and monthly goals that are easy to achieve. Or you can come up with your own way to become more productive, remember it’s all about you and the way you can improve.
- Renewal – Now you have to stick to those ways. Give yourself a month to try out the solutions to becoming more productive, if they work then stick with them and if they’re not working then come up with a new solution.
Now you may be thinking about how any of this is beneficial. Well firstly, you will diminish that haunting guilt over time. It is not going to go away straight away, especially if you are going through an incredibly busy time in your life. However, if you stick with the four stages and follow them through after every time you feel guilty then you will learn that it is ok to make mistakes.
From this, your mental health will improve as you are leaving all the self-blame in the past and you won’t be beating yourself up. Also, it is not an exact cure for depression and anxiety, however, overcoming the pressure you were putting on yourself may help to lessen the depressive moods you feel when you realised you have not been productive.
So, this article has been short and sweet and I could go on about the different types of ways that you can use self-forgiveness and how to overcome productive guilt but, ultimately, this is your journey and the ways that you decide to deal with it are up to you. It’s all down to you now!