It never fails. When you’ve got to get something done, you procrastinate until the last second or until it’s almost too late, right? Then you mentally kick yourself and wonder “Why do you procrastinate? All the time?” Now you feel even more down on yourself, which is not going to help the next time you need to get stuff done.
If you’re ready to learn why you procrastinate so you can identify the root causes and shift to being productive, then keep on reading!
What Is Procrastination?
The easy and truthful definition: to intentionally avoid doing something.
The real-world definition: it’s a symptom of STRESS.
Yes. Stress. Think about that for a minute. What was the last thing you procrastinated? Did you avoid it because it stressed you out? (mind-blown emoji, right?)
When you’re stressed about a task you need to complete, it can be super hard to convince yourself to work on it. Just the thought of trying to complete the entire task can be overwhelming. So instead, we avoid it, and we choose to do something that feels more enjoyable or easy. Usually it’s also incredibly unproductive, too. (Here’s looking at you Netflix.)
So let’s dive into the reasons why you keep staying in the cycle of bad procrastination habits, aka why do you procrastinate.
You Believe You’ll Always Be a Procrastinator
This is a tough belief to overcome because you’ve probably drilled it into your head over and over. If your pattern is to always procrastinate and complete something at the last second, then this is square one for you to learn to stop procrastinating.
Do you tell yourself that you work well under pressure? I sure do. And it provides me with a perfect excuse to believe that it’s ok for me to always procrastinate.
But what good does it do for me? Almost none. It just gives me anxiety and stress that I won’t complete a task on time or do a good job.
The good news is that we can change the narrative we tell ourselves and overcome bad habits like procrastination. When you feel yourself slipping into excuse mode, become aware of that moment, then take a breath and pause. Pausing allows your mind to allow a new narrative to take over.
Think of why you do NOT want to procrastinate (what’s the benefit of completing that job?), and tell yourself you’d rather have that benefit. Then get to work.
You Don’t Have a Clear Focus for Your Task
If you don’t understand why an item on your to-do list is important and needs to be completed in a certain time, then take a moment to think about why it should be done. What’s important about it?
Perhaps fixing a nice Sunday dinner means your friends or family can eat around the table and enjoy each other’s company. Or maybe you want to enjoy some beautiful tulips in the spring, which means you have to plant them at a specific time in the fall.
Whatever the reason, identify the meaning behind the task you need to accomplish to help motivate you to get moving on it and stop procrastinating. The best way to accomplish this is to brainstorm your ideas on paper. Seeing the benefits and rewards in front of you is a great motivator.
You Have a Fear of Failure
This feeling hits all of us at one point or another. No one wants to fail. So instead of trying, we put it off and procrastinate that thing we fear doing. I know I put off starting this blog for a long time because I was afraid that people wouldn’t like what I wrote. But when I remembered that my worth and my success isn’t based on what other people think of me, I decided it was worth moving forward and laying it all out there.
If failure is a big reason for why you procrastinate, then take a minute to think about the results of accomplishing the task you need to do. What will you achieve? How will you feel? And if you don’t succeed the first time, what lesson can you learn when you try again? Mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth. Embrace them!
You Don’t Want to Do What You Have to Do
I said it. Sometimes we just don’t wanna do what we gotta do. Why? Because it’s boring, hard, overwhelming, or maybe we aren’t even sure how to complete it. That can often happen in a work environment or when you’re starting a business.
If this is the common reason why you procrastinate, then imagine what happens if you don’t get around to doing that big job. Does your bathroom get really filthy? (Yuck!) Will your boss be upset? (Yikes!) Will you keep feeling bad that you never get around to it?
Once again, find a reason why there’s a benefit to do that thing you don’t want to do, then pull up your big-girl pants and get going. I had a boss who used to frequently say, “The hard way is the easy way.” Meaning, the way to get the results you want is to do what seems hard at the time, but ends up being the easiest route.
You Have Big Dreams but No Plan of Action
A brand-new entrepreneur often faces a big challenge of overcoming procrastination in order to execute their dreams. Procrastination can eat at anyone who has an idea or dream they want to chase but never get around to doing it. You can read all you want about manifesting your dreams, but the law of attraction can’t do much if you never take action.
This struggle can be closely tied to a fear of failure. Both of these issues have stopped so many people from successfully seeing their dreams come true. Don’t be one of them!
Identify what your dream really is, then write down what you’ll need to do to achieve them. Don’t be afraid of what those steps may be. The person you become as you learn and grow will be well worth the effort.
The Task Seems Overwhelming
Sometimes we avoid doing what we need to do because we look at the whole project and get completely overwhelmed. This is common for work projects and big jobs around the house. For instance, I dread cleaning my entire bathroom all at once and often put it off. Some people may look at their yard and think “wow, there is so much work to get ready for summer.”
When we get overwhelmed, we tend to shut down and avoid the project completely. But all this does is leave the job to be done later when the pressure is on because the bathroom is dirty or the yard is overrun with weeds.
Next time you feel overwhelmed, look at the task in sections of steps to accomplish. One step feels much easier to start and complete than an entire 10-step process. Then you’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed with procrastination.
Now that you’ve identified your root causes for why you procrastinate, you have the ability to change your habits and mindset to begin being more productive each day. Instead of saying “Why do I always procrastinate?” you’ll find yourself saying “I can’t believe how much I get done.” Make sure to check out my top tips for how to stop procrastinating here!
Share this story with your friends and comment below with any other reasons why you tend to procrastinate!
Well written and good insight. I think procrastination can also be a symptom of a deeper anxiety disorder. A chemical imbalance of sorts. It would be interesting to see if there are any peer-reviewed articles out there on the subject.
Thanks, Alissa! Procrastination definitely can have some serious roots in various disorders. Interesting idea to look into!
Hey Brie, this is an awesome article! I especially agree with some of the reasons you listed – a lot of the time, procrastination can be fear or confusion in disguise. Can’t wait to see more of your work x
Yes, procrastination is just a mask for something unsettled beneath the surface. Thanks for reading!
Thank you so much for sharing! I have always thought of myself as a procrastinator – your post made me realize that that thinking is one of the reasons I am probably procrastinating in the first place! Thanks for the reminder to get that limiting belief out of my brain. Can’t wait to read more of your work!
You’re welcome! Glad it brought some insight to you! It sure did for me when I learned about it.
I find myself being a procrastinator at times. Well written blog post.
Don’t we all? 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!