We’ve all been there. You sit down to work on a project, but before you know it, you’ve wasted an hour scrolling through social media or reading articles that are unrelated to what you’re supposed to be doing.
Why do we do this? More often than not, it’s because we’re procrastinating.
But what exactly is procrastination? And more importantly, why do we do it? This blog post will explore 10 of the most common reasons for procrastination and what you can do to overcome them.
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of putting off something that you know you should be doing. We all do it from time to time, but for some people, it’s a chronic problem that can have serious consequences.
Procrastination does not just involve poor time management or laziness. It doesn’t work to tell someone to “just do what you have to” when it comes to procrastination.
This would be similar to telling someone with depression to “just cheer up” or someone with an anxiety disorder to “just relax.”
You may feel guilty about putting things off, but it is okay. This is a problem that you can work on and improve.
Joseph R. Ferrari, Ph.D., is the leading researcher in the study of procrastination, and he says that people who procrastinate know they need to do a task but choose to do something else instead.
This is different from laziness which means being inactive and not wanting to do anything. Lazy people don’t want to do anything, even things they enjoy.
There are a number of reasons why we might procrastinate, but some of the most common include:
One of the most common reasons for procrastination is perfectionism. We tend to put off starting a project because we’re afraid it won’t be perfect. But the truth is, nothing is ever going to be perfect.
We live in a society that values perfection. We see perfect families on TV, perfect celebrities in magazines, and perfect homes on social media.
It’s no wonder that we strive for perfection in our own lives. But the problem is perfection is an impossible standard to meet. And when we can’t meet that standard, we tend to procrastinate.
For example, let’s say you’re a writer who has meant to start a blog for months. But every time you write your first post, you freeze up because you’re afraid it won’t be good enough.
So you tell yourself that you’ll start tomorrow or next week. But the truth is, you’re never going to start unless you just force yourself to write something—anything—and hit publish. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done.
If you find yourself constantly putting off projects because you’re afraid they won’t be perfect, it’s time to break the cycle of procrastination.
Start by setting realistic goals for yourself. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for progress. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes; they’re part of the learning process.
Remember, nothing will ever be perfect, so start working on the project and see where it takes you.
2) Fear of failure
You’re putting off a task because you’re afraid of failing. It could be a business presentation or a school assignment. Whatever it is, you just can’t seem to get yourself started. What’s the deal?
We might fear failing for a few reasons, but the most common is fear of what other people will think.
We don’t want to start something if there’s a chance that we might not be able to finish it or that we might not do it perfectly.
But again, the only way to overcome this is to start working on the project and see where it takes you.
If you’re afraid of failing, it’s time to change your mindset. Instead of thinking about all the ways you could fail, focus on all the ways you could succeed.
And instead of thinking about what other people will think, focus on what you want to achieve. Doing this will make you more likely to take action and complete the task.
Finally, remind yourself that failure is not the end of the world. It’s okay if you don’t get everything right on the first try. Most successful people fail many times before they finally achieve their goals.
One of the reasons people procrastinate is because they want to avoid something difficult or stressful.
Stressful tasks are not fun. They make you worried, scared, or stressed. And so, it’s natural to want to avoid them.
George Loewenstein, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, explained to The New Yorker that instead of working on something important, people get pulled towards things that give them a short-term reward.
Procrastinators enjoy the present moment and don’t want to think about the future. They would rather do something fun now and deal with the consequences later.
Sometimes, they spend too much time on activities like social media, email, or watching TV instead of working on something important.
This can lead to negative consequences down the road, such as missed deadlines or a lower quality of work.
Procrastination is something that happens in your mind without you realizing it. It is a defense mechanism. The solution to procrastination is to understand why you’re avoiding it in the first place.
Do you not want to do something because it is hard?
Break the task into smaller pieces, and then you can work on it little by little.
Do you not want to do something because it is stressful?
Take some time to relax before you start the task, and then you can work on it with a clear mind.
Do you not want to do something because it is boring?
Find a way to make it more interesting for yourself, such as listening to music while you work or setting a timer and seeing how long you can go without taking a break.
4) Low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is one of the main reasons people procrastinate. People with low self-esteem often feel like they are not good enough or will make mistakes if they try to do something.
Procrastinators worry about what other people will think. They seek approval from others instead of from themselves.
This can lead to them putting off tasks until later, when they may not have time to complete them.
People with low self-esteem have minds that constantly struggle with limited thinking patterns. They tend to believe that their negative self-talk is true.
So, when they are faced with a challenging task, instead of thinking, “I can do this,” they think, “I can’t do this.”
This creates a feeling of anxiety that can be so overwhelming that it prevents them from taking action. Consequently, they procrastinate to avoid this feeling.
Building confidence is the key to overcoming low self-esteem. It takes time and effort, but it is possible.
One way to do this is to change the way you talk to yourself. When you have negative thoughts, counter them with positive ones.
For example, if you’re thinking, “I can’t do this,” remind yourself that you have done difficult things before and you can do it again.
Another way to build confidence is to set small goals for yourself and then celebrate when you achieve them. This will help you prove to yourself that you can accomplish things.
If you are still struggling with self-esteem, also look at the root causes.
Are you dealing with past trauma? If so, talking to a therapist can help you understand the root causes of your low self-esteem.
Positive people can help you stay motivated and not get stuck in the self-criticism loop. A mentor or coach can be a cheerleader for your brain and help you to overcome obstacles.
Many people with depression may find it difficult to get started on tasks because of a feeling of hopelessness and fatigue. This can be a major contributor to procrastination.
People who are depressed often stop doing things they enjoy. This can cause them to not want to do anything, even things they think would be fun.
The person may be hesitant about attending an event even if they think they would enjoy it.
In addition, people with depression may have difficulty concentrating or focusing on a task. As a result, they may start a task but then quickly become sidetracked and fail to finish it.
It is important to seek professional help if you feel like you are struggling with depression, as it can interfere with many areas of your life, including your work and school performance.
However, If you cannot afford to see a psychologist, there are many treatments available for depression you can do on your own such as exercise, meditation, and journaling.
Behavioral activation is one way to help you feel better when you are depressed. You can start by doing things that make you happy or feel like you have accomplished something.
This can help because it changes your behavior, which then changes the way you think.
This might be a good option because it is easier to do on your own than other ways of trying to feel better.
6) Waiting Until the Last Minute
One of the most common reasons people procrastinate is because they think they work better under pressure. This may be true for some people, but for most people, it is not.
When you wait until the last minute to start a task, you are more likely to make mistakes and have a lower quality of work.
In addition, you are likely to feel more stressed out and anxious, which can lead to even more procrastination.
There’s a technique called the Pomodoro, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break.
After four “pomodoros,” or work periods, you take a longer break of 20 minutes. The theory is that breaking up your work into manageable chunks will make you more likely to finish it.
And, by taking regular breaks, you’ll stay refreshed and focused. If you’re looking for a way to improve your productivity, the Pomodoro Technique is definitely worth trying.
7) Trouble Focusing
Psychologists found that people who have trouble often concentrating also procrastinate. For example, people with ADHD often have trouble getting started on a project. They can’t decide what is most important, how to plan, or how to stay on track.
Moreover, they may become easily sidetracked by other things, such as their phone or the internet. This can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand and get it done.
Focus improvement is something that can be practiced. Many people think that they can only focus if they have the perfect environment or are not tired. However, the focus is a skill that can be practiced and improved.
There are many ways to improve your focus, but some basic tips include the following:
- Taking breaks often
- Putting away distractions
- Practicing meditation or mindfulness
- Doing physical activity regularly
- Getting enough sleep
- Use task management apps like Trello or Todoist
8) Lack of motivation
Many people procrastinate because they lack motivation. They may not be interested in the task at hand or think that it is not important.
As a result, they do not see the point in starting it or finishing it. This can lead to a vicious cycle of procrastination as the task gets progressively put off.
If you lack motivation, it can feel like you are fighting against someone very strong. It is important to have the willpower and self-discipline to succeed. This is something most people struggle with.
Procrastination is at its best when these moments present themselves, and you find yourself back on Netflix before you know it.
There are many ways to increase your motivation. Some tips include the following:
- Finding a way to make the task more interesting or fun.
- Breaking the task down into smaller goals so you can see your progress.
- Setting a deadline for yourself.
- Finding someone to hold you accountable.
- Giving yourself a reward for completing the task.
- Listen to music that gets you pumped up.
To increase your motivation, finding what works for you is important. Everyone is different, and what works for one person might not work for another.
9) Fear of complexity
The job you are dealing with is complex, and you don’t know where to start. You are afraid of making mistakes, so you keep putting them off.
For example, let’s say you need to file your taxes. You know it is going to be a lot of work, and you don’t know where to start. So, you procrastinate filing them.
However, you can’t keep putting them off forever. You need to find a way to get started, even if you’re not sure how it’s going to turn out.
Find someone who can help you simplify the task and walk you through the steps. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Getting help from someone who knows what they’re doing can make all the difference.
In this case, you might want to find a tax specialist or accountant. They can help you understand the process and make it less daunting.
Another option is to break the job down into smaller tasks and focus on one at a time. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s okay. Just learn from them and move on.
10) The Lack of Clarity
People believe that procrastination is when you do not know what to do. Your brain will tell you that it is too hard, too uncomfortable, and too expensive to complete your tasks.
It will then convince you to do something else that is more fun or less challenging. This will give you a false sense of accomplishment, and you will not get anything done.
Our brain is designed to conserve energy and avoid unpleasant situations. It can be draining and make us feel uncomfortable when we don’t know how to do something or why we should do it.
The alternative is to do something familiar and comfortable. You can do anything other than what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s important to clarify your work process, so you don’t procrastinate.
You need to have a clear understanding of what your task is, why you’re doing it, and how you’re going to do it.
You need to know what the end result should look like and have a plan for how you’re going to get there. Once you have all of this, you can start confidently working on your task.
Procrastination is a problem that we all face at one point or another. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in our lives. If we understand why we do it, we can start to overcome it and get back on track with our goals.
For example, maybe your goal is to write a book. But you don’t know where to start or what to write about.
The solution is to come up with a plan. You need to decide what your book will be about, what the main characters will be like, and what the plot will be. Once you have a plan, you can start confidently writing your book.
You must eliminate all guesswork. You know exactly what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. This will help you stay focused and motivated to write your book.
Procrastination can be a major problem that prevents us from reaching our goals. But it doesn’t have to be something we live with forever. If we understand the reasons why we procrastinate, we can start to overcome them.
There are many reasons why people procrastinate. But some of the most common ones include fear, lack of motivation, and unclear goals.
If you can identify why you’re procrastinating, you can start to find a solution. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.
So don’t wait any longer. Get started today!