Procrastination and depression are inherently joined at the hip. If you look at research studies you will see that scores on the measure of depression are significantly correlated with scores on the measure of procrastination. What that means is the more depressed you are, the more we tend to procrastinate. While that revelation shouldn’t surprise you…
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Studies also show that when you have lower ability to self-regulate then you are more likely to be depressed and procrastinate.
So perhaps having low self-regulation skills is core to the issue. Learning how to self-regulate can be a key to digging yourself out of the dark hole.
The key to self-regulation is learning to put one foot in front of the other and executing with some intent. It doesn’t mean you have to enjoy what you are doing, it just means you have to show up for the sake of it.
“There journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lau Tzu
Is it this simple? Yes, and no.
Yes, it’s that simple. Its all about doing one thing purposefully at time and then building momentum into a second purposeful thing. If you are trying to write a paper just worry about writing the first sentence, just start there. The second sentence is not your problem right now. Don’t even worry if the first sentence is good…just write it.
No it’s not always that simple because depression complicates everything if you feel weak willed or a chronic procrastinator. Its no longer “just” about taking the first step, when the first step often leads to questions of “what’s the point” and the feeling of overwhelming sadness.
If you can pivot your focus to basic self-regulation skills it can help. It’s the old “fake it till you make it” trick. Just a small measure of self-control combined with a small action can be enough to set you in a direction. It is truly a “one foot in front of the other” approach. You don’t need to make huge steps or strides…just pretty good small steps is all it takes.