Newswise — BINGHAMTON, NY -- In addition to the stress of the global pandemic, working remotely could make people work inefficiently. According to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, practicing mindfulness may decrease levels of procrastination. 

“The sudden and drastic change in the style of working from home may necessitate the use of new work-management strategies, such as the increased practice of mindfulness, to effectively mitigate the problem of loss of productivity due to unwanted procrastination,” said Ashwin Gautam, a graduate research scholar at Binghamton’s Laboratory of Consciousness, Cognition, & Psychopathology.

The study found that practicing mindfulness, or the conscious awareness of emotions and sensations, predicted lower rates of procrastination and distress. 

“Mindfulness can decrease procrastination by lowering the anxiety associated with completing a daunting task,” Gautam said. “By being aware of our anxiety and understanding its effect on triggering unwanted procrastination, one can limit one’s habitual and automatic tendency to procrastinate.”

Gautam, along with Craig Polizzi and Richard E. Mattson, scaled undergraduate students’ levels of anxiety in different scenarios of procrastination. They found a positive correlation between anxiety and procrastination. 

“Our findings also implied that anxiety plays a key role in treating procrastination,” Gautam said. “Even being aware of one’s own tendency to put things off until the last minute consistently is enough to lower chronic procrastination to some degree.”

The researchers clarified that mindfulness could be practiced throughout the day. It is merely a matter of being aware of our actions. 

“To be mindful is to be consciously aware of two key aspects of the moment – what’s happening in the environment outside and what’s happening within our body and mind,” Gautam said. “We can practice mindfulness at any time by bringing gentle and non-judgmental awareness of our present thoughts, emotions and action tendencies.”

The paper, “Mindfulness, procrastination, and anxiety: Assessing Their Relationship,” was published in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice.

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