Revenge Procrastination: 7 Ways Your Late-Night Binge Is Stealing Your Life

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In the throes of revenge procrastination, I lie in bed, glancing at the time on my phone. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning, and I can still squeeze in five hours of sleep before needing to rise at seven for my 9 o’clock Zoom call. After weeks of burnout, I'm running on fumes. I'm exhausted. My eyes feel sandy, gritting as my eyelids start to fall shut. The list of morning tasks begins to form in my drifting mind.

Suddenly, my eyes snap open in an almost adrenaline rush. The television is still on, and the sixth episode of the third season of Mad Men is starting. Despite having seen it multiple times and it being available on-demand, I feel compelled to watch it now. I rub the gritty sand from my eyes and focus on the television, convincing myself that one more hour will be okay.

I can manage the morning meeting, perhaps forgoing a shower, and only dress presentably from the waist up. That can be done in 45 minutes easily, allowing for the possibility of a seventh episode. Does this scenario sound familiar?

African woman feeling lazy and sleepy on the sofa

What Is Going On?

It’s a type of procrastination called “revenge procrastination.” Usually, procrastination is about delaying important things until the last minute. But here, you're pushing back against sleep or other duties to do something fun and feeling like you're taking control of your time for a bit.

Reasons Why We Choose Revenge Procrastination

Even though sleeping makes sense when we’re tired or stressed, revenge procrastination can help some of us feel in control and powerful. Here’s why we might choose to do this instead of just going to sleep:

  1. 1
    Overwhelm: Feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities and tasks can lead to procrastination. Revenge procrastination is like fighting back and taking control when life gets too busy.
  2. 2
    Lack of control: Revenge procrastination can help us feel in control of our lives. When we think we don’t have enough control over our time, enjoying leisure activities is a way to rebel against a super busy schedule.
  3. 3
    Perfectionism: Some of us engage in revenge procrastination to avoid tasks that we feel we won't be able to complete perfectly. The fear of failure can stop some of us from being productive and cause us to procrastinate.
  4. 4
    Fear of success: Similarly, some of us may fear success and the responsibilities that come with it. Procrastination can be a way of avoiding those responsibilities and staying in our comfort zone.
  5. 5
    Lack of motivation: When we lack motivation, it’s tough to concentrate and finish tasks. Revenge procrastination can be a way of avoiding the hard work needed to reach a goal.
  6. 6
    Burnout: When we feel burnt out, finding the energy or motivation to finish tasks is hard. Revenge procrastination can be a way to escape burnout and feel some relief from work or other responsibilities.

The 7 Ways Revenge Procrastination Negatively Affect Us

Keep in mind that even though we get that instant gratification from the rebellion, revenge procrastination will affect us later in a number of ways, including:

  • 1.   Feeling tired
  • 2.   Having trouble focusing
  • 3.   Getting cranky
  • 4.   Not getting as much done

The 7 Ways to Overcome Revenge Procrastination

Conquering revenge procrastination can be challenging, but it is possible with some effort and commitment. Here are some tips that can help:

  1. 1
    Identify the reasons why you are doing it. Once you know the main issue, you can make a plan and fix it.
  2. 2
    Find ways to relax and de-stress before you go to bed. This could include things like taking a bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
  3. 3
    Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This will help your body and mind to wind down before bed.
  4. 4
    Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  5. 5
    Don’t watch TV or use electronics an hour before bed. Their blue light can mess with your sleep.
  6. 6
    If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you’re sleepy. This stops you from linking your bed with frustration.
  7. 7
    If you’re still struggling, think about getting professional help. A Procrastination Coach, like me, can help you figure out what’s going on and help create an actionable plan just for you.

Simply put, revenge procrastination may seem like a fun way to rebel against life’s stresses, but it definitely has its negatives. It’s crucial to figure out why you are picking this kind of procrastination and how it affects you. With some persistence and effort, you can overcome revenge procrastination.

By recognizing the reasons, setting up a calming bedtime routine, and looking for help if needed, you can regain control of your time and enjoy a healthier and happier life. Remember, striking a balance is key, and learning to cope with stress and putting self-care first can really help you tackle this nighttime struggle.

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