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Why Do We Procrastinate? 15 Reasons and What you could do

    why do we procrastinate

    “Procrastination isn’t the problem. It’s the solution. It’s the universe’s way of saying stop, slow down, you move too fast.” by Ellen DeGeneres.

    It seems like a lot of people have taken this quote very seriously in their lives.

    Heck, some people even proudly say that they put the ‘pro’ in procrastination!

    Jokes aside, procrastination is something that we all go through from time to time. Sure, it might affect different people differently, but it does affect us all.

    And the curious thing is that there is a whole host of reasons why we tend to procrastinate in the first place.

    I mean, you might think that your fatigue or lack of motivation stops you from doing your tasks on time.

    But you’d be surprised to know that there are a variety of other reasons for your procrastination.

    Below, we look at some of the top ones that we should all know about.

    1) Lack of Focus

    girl procrastinating

    To achieve something, you need to be focused on it.

    This is common sense.

    I mean, how are you going to drive your car if you are not focused on the road?

    Similarly, if you’re not focused on the task at hand or your end goal, it will be quite difficult for you to devote yourself to it. You just won’t feel that drive to do what’s necessary.

    One way you can address this is by gaining clarity.

    You need to be clear about what exactly the end goal is, and why it is important for you to achieve it. If need be, remind yourself of this every single day!

    At least this will provide you with some will and energy to keep going on a daily basis.

    What you can do ?

    There are many ways you can address this lack of focus.

    For one, you need to have clarity on what you want to achieve with a particular task.

    Ask yourself why you have taken up the task at hand.

    Maybe it’s an obligation, and you don’t have a choice. Or maybe, you want to achieve a meaningful goal!

    Until that clarity comes, your motivation simply won’t wake up.

    Also, make sure you are mentally and emotionally in a good place. Pay attention to how you feel. Do you need time to recharge? Has it been too long since you have done something fun? Address these issues and then try to take on the task.

    2) Perfectionism

    There are some people who have this attitude of “all or nothing.”

    Basically, if they take on a task, they want to do it perfectly.

    On the surface, it might seem like a good thing. But there’s a problem with this approach.

    We all know that perfection is an illusion, and there is always more you can do to improve something.

    In that way, this attitude never lets you conclude anything.

    Maybe, that’s why perfectionism keeps you from getting started.

    First, if you don’t feel like you will be able to do something just right, you won’t want to take it up.

    Secondly, you might also be aware that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to do a task perfectly.

    As such, you might tend to keep putting it off.

    What you can do ?

    Toning down your requirement for perfectionism will require some changes in your mental attitude.

    To start with, you need to set more reasonable goals for yourself.

    If you conjure up an insurmountable mountain of goals, you will obviously not want to go after them in the first place.

    Also, you will need to be okay with “good enough” work. I am not saying that your performance should be below par.

    What I’m saying is, you should give it your best shot and be okay with whatever the results may be. Frankly, this is what any one of us can really do.

    I got so much procrastinating done today

    3) Vague/No Deadlines

    We humans like to focus on things when they become urgent.

    In fact, in such a case, we are not left with any other option but to do what’s required.

    This is where deadlines come into play. Having a fixed time limit creates that sense of urgency and accountability.

    And so, you have to be on your best behavior and complete your tasks.

    On the other hand, though, if you have vague or no deadlines, you just won’t be motivated to take on a job.

    Even if you are given a responsibility, there will be no urgency in your mind to start on it right away.

    You will wait until it becomes urgent or you are pestered by the other person.

    What you can do?

    This can be tricky to deal with if you don’t have an official deadline from your boss.

    Plus, there’s nobody to set deadlines for your personal chores.

    So, you need to be a little creative. You can set deadlines for your own self and assign a reward if you manage to achieve them. Let’s say, you get to eat your favorite snack if you finish a task by its deadline.

    You can also ask a family member for help. This is where spouses can come in handy.

    You can tell them to set deadlines for you and hold you accountable if you don’t achieve them.

    They can even set a punishment for missing deadlines! haha 🙂

    relax ! due tomorrow, do tomorrow.

    4) Feeling Overwhelmed

    Let’s be honest. We are human beings, and we have our limits.

    I know the modern lifestyle doesn’t respect this fact, but that doesn’t change reality.

    We have our physical, mental, and emotional limits, and there is only so much you can burden yourself with.

    Eventually, there comes a time when you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you have to do every day.

    And when that happens, you might want to keep avoiding a number of things until the last minute.

    This is natural and you shouldn’t feel guilty if this happens to you. What you need to do, however, is plug out and recharge mentally and emotionally.

    What you can do?

    If there are several tasks that you need to handle at once, then tackle only the most important and urgent ones.

    And see if you can delegate some “not too important” tasks to your family, friends, or colleagues.

    This should take a lot of stuff off your plate.

    And, if you’re dealing with a big complicated task, you can break it down into a series of smaller tasks.

    That way, it won’t appear overwhelming, and it will become easier for you to tackle the smaller tasks. Plus, you will know how much progress you have made at any given time.

    5) Not Knowing How To Get Started

    man overwhelmed by the tasks to do

    I think this is a psychological barrier that affects a lot of people.

    Especially when it comes to tasks that are unique, complex, and require out-of-the-box thinking. 

    When you don’t even have a clue how to get started on something, you might want to put it off for a later date.

    Here, your intention is not to avoid the task completely but to gain more clarity on it before beginning.

    But as it usually happens, such a task keeps getting pushed further and further.

    Your fear of the unknown doesn’t let you take it off the shelf and deal with it in the present.

    You fail to realize that only when you sit with it, and analyze it, will you get the answers on how to proceed.

    As wise people say, sometimes, the answer to a question lies in the question itself.

    What you can do ?

    To deal with this psychological barrier, you can test the water a bit without actually taking a full dive.

    What I’m trying to say is, you can sit with the task at hand with the sole intention to study it.

    This helps you take an observer’s stance since you are not concerned with actually doing the task. This will solve the problem of you avoiding it perpetually.

    Next, what happens is, when you study the task, you get ideas about how you can complete it (even if that’s not your intention).

    Your brain starts “doing” its things and you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Or, at the very least, the first few steps.

    This does away with your fear of the unknown and helps you get into action mode.

    6) Distractions

    In the modern world, there are countless distractions.

    No matter where you go, you are constantly bombarded by things that try to steal your attention.

    In such a world, it is hard to focus on anything!

    And this is one of the main reasons why you may procrastinate on your work over and over again.

    I mean, we have all had experiences where we began scrolling our social media feed, and the next thing we knew, two hours had already passed!

    This is only one example.

    There are numerous other distractions that just keep hogging your attention, and so, you are never able to begin things and complete them on time.

    What you can do?

    The best way to deal with this problem is the philosophy of “out of sight, out of mind.”

    For example, if phone notifications are bothering you, just silence your phone and tuck it away inside a drawer.

    If your family members are distracting you, ask them not to do so and work in a separate room with the door closed.

    If your colleagues are talking too loudly, put in a pair of earphones and play some instrumental music.

    If social media sites are the problem, then block them on your system for the day. Every distraction can be dealt with in a similar way.

    And then, you’ll be able to focus on your work.

    some say reincarnation is just another way to procrastinate.

    7) You Don’t Like What You’re Doing

    Our emotions play a huge role in our actions and decisions.

    The way you feel about something or someone dictates how you will treat it.

    So, if there is a task at hand that you don’t like, well, you won’t want to do it.

    We have all been there, haven’t we?

    At work, or at home, we are given chores that we just don’t want to do. And what’s the usual result?

    We keep procrastinating on them until it becomes absolutely necessary to deal with them. In cases like these, I think it is better to just finish these tasks and be done with them.

    The longer you avoid them, the bigger they get in your head!

    What you can do?

    This problem can be hard to deal with.

    After all, if you don’t like something, well, you don’t like it! End of story!

    So, how do you go about solving this riddle?

    Well, for starters, see if there is anyone else willing to do those tasks. If not, the only option left is to make the task as enjoyable as possible for you.

    For example, if you don’t like cleaning the house, try to do it while listening to some upbeat music on the speaker.

    This should make it way more fun.

    Another example could be that of throwing out the trash.

    If you hate doing it, use it as an excuse to go outside and see the sunset and breathe some fresh air!

    8) You Expect The Outcome To Be Unpleasant

    man not motivated to work

    Imagine you’re in a situation where you think that the outcome of a particular task will be unpleasant.

    What do you think you would want to do in that situation?

    Nothing, right?

    Why would you want to take on something whose outcome will give you unsettling feelings?

    And that too after putting in hard work!

    Also, there might be tasks whose outcome might be okay, but doing them would make you feel terrible.

    Again, you will naturally want to avoid doing these tasks.

    What you can do?

    In this case, you need to develop discipline.

    And also apply a little bit of logic. There’s really no other way.

    If you are obligated to do a task, and you expect the outcome to be unpleasant, then wouldn’t it be better to just be done with it? I mean, you have to do it sooner or later.

    So, why put it off and keep torturing yourself mentally?

    Sure, you might need to face an unpleasant outcome.

    But it will be over once you do that.

    On the other hand, putting a task off will only keep you on edge about that outcome and you will still have to do it someday.

    9) Lack of Confidence In Your Abilities

    You might not realize this, but your self-confidence plays a huge role in the work that you do.

    You subconsciously take up work that you think you can do a good job at, and you avoid doing things that you think you’ll be terrible at.

    If you have faith in your abilities, you might achieve more than you can imagine.

    But if you don’t have this faith, you will want to avoid certain tasks at all costs.

    If this is the reason behind your procrastination, you might want to take serious steps to enhance your confidence.

    After all, if you keep restricting yourself, you will never be able to take advantage of your full potential.

    And you certainly won’t grow as a person.

    What you can do?

    If a lack of confidence is the problem, well, that’s what you need to solve first.

    Do things that enhance your confidence. Go out of your comfort zone once in a while and engage in hobbies. This will improve your skillset, make you more knowledgeable and creative.

    This will improve your confidence. And so, that won’t be the reason you put off doing work.

    Also, even if you actually lack the ability to do a certain task, take it as a learning opportunity!

    If you do it with this frame of mind, you will actually be excited to tackle it.

    10) The Need For The Right Mood To Do Something

    Many people feel like they have to be in the right mood do to do something.

    For instance, your boss might have told you to write a report on a project.

    But you don’t want to start on it right away because you feel you are not in the right mental or emotional state.

    You might say to yourself, “I’ll do it when I feel better,” or “I’ll do it after I feel rested.”

    I think this is something that affects us all.

    After all, our moods have a huge impact on our behavior. When you feel great, your productivity naturally goes up. And when you feel terrible, even daily chores seem like insurmountable mountains.

    What you can do?

    Since your mood has a lot of influence on what tasks you take and whether or not you complete them, it’s vital to stay in a positive state of mind.

    Practices like meditation and mindfulness will greatly help in this regard. They can literally rewire your brain into a more peaceful state.

    These practices also help change your perception.

    You begin seeing things not as barriers, but as stepping stones to something bigger.

    As such, you don’t feel the need to keep putting things off.

    And you certainly don’t wait for the “right mood” because you’re calm and composed most of the time.

    Don't rush me i am waiting for the last minute

    11) You Are Overconfident

    For some, it’s the lack of confidence that keeps them from doing things.

    And for others, it’s overconfidence.

    The reasoning here is simple.

    Let’s say you have a piece of work that you need to complete in 3 days. Now, you might be so overconfident in your abilities that you think you’ll be able to do it in 1 day.

    Therefore, you waste the first two days doing nothing and then attempt to do the work on the third day.

    Depending on how accurate your faith in your abilities is, you might either pull it off or get a rude awakening!

    What you can do?

    To deal with this situation, you need to come up with a standard operating procedure (SOP) for yourself.

    And you need to get into the habit of following this SOP, no matter the task at hand. That way, all you have to do is just follow your own system.

    Your lack of confidence, too much confidence, or any other excuse simply won’t be a factor anymore.

    Your SOP can include dividing the task into smaller chunks, assigning deadlines to each chunk, and planning out your moves in advance.

    Whenever you get a new task, just activate your SOP, and your brain will do the rest.

    12) Your Health And Fitness Aren’t Up To The Mark

    Sometimes, the simplest of things can explain your behavior.

    When it comes to procrastination, it might just be that you are not healthy or fit at the moment.

    As such, you lack the required energy levels to take on any work. Naturally, you will want to avoid doing anything for the foreseeable future.

    Therefore, it’s important to infuse things like exercise, proper diet, and meditation into your daily routine.

    These will help you achieve a much better state of health and fitness. You will feel more energetic and procrastination won’t even occur to you as a possibility.

    What you can do?

    This one is pretty straightforward to solve.

    If your health is the issue, it should be the first thing you should address.

    Just make sure that you consult your physician and also take a holistic approach to your health. I mean, focus on your physical, mental, and emotional health.

    Only then will you be a healthy person in the truest sense of the word.

    So, what can you do to be healthy? Well, you can exercise, meditate, do yoga, practice mindfulness, practice gratitude, spend time alone, spend time with loved ones, spend time in nature, eat a proper diet, and do some charity work.

    13) You Might Think You Need Someone’s Help

    a person tired

    There are some tasks that you might think require someone else to step in and help you with.

    You might think that you lack a certain skill set or require some input to get started.

    Regardless of whether or not this is actually true, it might make you wait for the right person to come along and assist you.

    And until you find that person, you will just keep pushing the task further and further.

    Ultimately, you either realize that you could indeed do it on your own or you never end up doing the task.

    Either way, you procrastinate to the very end.

    What you can do ?

    If you think that a certain task needs someone else’s help, then the first thing you need to do is be sure.

    Do you really need someone’s help? Or is it just an excuse?

    If it’s the latter, well, stop giving excuses and get to work!

    But if it’s the former, do everything you can to find that right person. Ask your family members, friends, and colleagues for help.

    If you can’t find the right person, you can seek help from online communities or a vast pool of freelancers around the globe!

    The point is, don’t wait for the right person to just show up.

    14) You Are Lazy

    Sometimes, there is no better reason for your procrastination than your own laziness.

    It might be the simplest and most accurate explanation for your behavior.

    There are many people who are lazy by nature. It might be because of their genes, the way they were raised, or a whole host of other factors.

    Regardless of the cause, they generally lack the motivation to do most things in life.

    Whether it be mundane tasks or important projects, they just can’t find it in them to do actual physical work.

    As such, they keep putting off things to eternity. The tragedy here is that they might be super talented and have enormous potential.

    But they let their laziness be an impediment to exploring their own capabilities. check our article about laziness here.

    What you can do ?

    Although laziness is the simplest explanation for procrastination, it is also the hardest one to deal with.

    After all, such deep-seated traits are not easy to uproot.

    It’s not like you can suddenly stop being lazy one fine day!

    Gosh, only if that were possible!

    So, diminishing this trait of yours will take some time, effort, and patience. In fact, if you are lazy you will stay lazy but you will need to find a way to see your work or chore differently..

    You will slowly need to change your attitude towards work, and you will need to become more serious about the consequences of your actions (or in this case, inaction).

    Finally, you will also need to train your mind to derive satisfaction from the results of your hard work.

    15) Your Environment Isn’t Conducive To Work

    Another thing that might be influencing your procrastinating behavior is your environment.

    Not many people realize this, but their immediate surroundings have a huge effect on their mental and emotional states.

    I mean, if you have been to a dark and dingy place, you will know that it automatically makes you feel low.

    On the other hand, open and airy places generally make people feel optimistic and energetic.

    So, if you tend to procrastinate a lot, you need to examine your environment. It might be too cluttered, dirty, unorganized, and noisy! Once you realize what the problem is, you can then go on to fix it.

    What you can do?

    There are many things you can do with your environment to make it more conducive to work.

    First, ensure that it gets proper light and airflow.

    Then, declutter the space as much as you can.

    Believe it or not, it actually has an influence on your mind. Also, make sure the place is clean and devoid of noise.

    If the latter is not possible, you can always use your earphones and some instrumental music.

    never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.

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