Are You Really Procrastinating?

A One-Session Cure For Procrastination

A young college student came to me for help with a few different issues, but in particular she wanted hypnosis so she could stop procrastinating.

She was nearing the end of her pharmacy degree, and had always gotten her academic results by ending up studying really hard in the final days before an exam. It was really starting to be an issue for her and she had finally sought professional help about it.

But before I go on, just take a moment and think about what you would advise for this woman in this situation. It doesn't matter if you know something about hypnotherapy or not, because in this woman's particular situation I ended up not needing hypnosis and completing it all within the session.

In this session I did a further assessment. I checked what her results were, she was getting either distinctions or at worst credits for all her results. When I asked her what exactly was bothering her about her procrastination, she told me that her friends and even some of her family were pointing out to her how bad it was that she was cramming like this. So I enquired further how bad it was, and it turned out that she was putting her head into her studies for all the hours she was awake for about 48 hours before the exam. No other life at all.

This behavior was worrying her even as she was doing it. Even worse she was catching herself worrying about it during the year as well, and it was beginning to play on her mind even in the holiday breaks. She had made efforts to set up more structured and pre-organized routines for her study, but they didn't seem to suit her. Fortunately she seemed otherwise well, outgoing and happy with herself. She was also not resorting to drugs or other masking methods for her worries.

So here is where I put to her the crucial question, which was, "What marks are the people who are telling you how bad your procrastination is, getting in comparison to yours?", and she immediately said, "Definitely not as good, not any of them."

So I put to her the idea that rather than having a problem with procrastination, she actually had a highly effective method of study that was outside what was normal for her friends and family, but from my background when I was a medical student, she was within normal high-achiever limits. The real problem was that if she took the advice she was being given she would likely end up with the same results as the people who were giving the advice.

Should she ever change what she was doing? If she wanted to, yes certainly. My suggestion was that she have a think about whether SHE was unhappy with the effects of the way she studied. If she was, then we could do something about it. In the meantime she could decide what advice to listen to by checking what results the person was getting.

She came back a week later, much less stressed, and not wanting any changes in this area. What have people advised you about the suitability or otherwise of procrastination in your life, and are you getting told what you "should" do rather than what is specifically suitable for you? It makes a big difference.

Copyright 2007 Dr Martin W. Russell