Why. Do. We. Procrastinate? Yep (including me ✋), we all do it at some point or another. In fact, I have been procrastinating on writing this blog post (the irony right 🤷♀️). There are lots of things that give us that “Ugh” feeling when we even think about doing them, like going to the gym 🏋️♀️, doing your taxes 🏦, writing that report 📰, or scrubbing the toilet 🚽, hence the act of procrastination.
But, if procrastination is such a thorn in our side, why do we do it?
So, procrastination IS NOT an issue of laziness. It’s more of an emotional issue. For example, your brain “perceives” that you’re going to experience a negative emotion and does its best to help you avoid it. Everyone has the urge to procrastinate. One thing that separates successful people from the rest is their ability to overcome this urge. ⬇️
4 PSYCHOLOGICAL REASONS WHY WE PROCRASTINATE AND STRATEGIES FOR LIFTING OUT OF A PROCRASTINATION FUNK.
REASON 1: FEELING OVERWHELMED.
Sometimes we procrastinate because we are overwhelmed. There are so many things to do, the task seems too hard, too complicated, or we don’t know where to start.
★ACTION STEP: First, organize and prioritize your tasks AND create a plan to achieve the tasks. Try using the timeboxing method to create your plan. Timeboxing is where you limit the amount of time you allow yourself to spend on a certain task. By limiting the amount of time, you allow yourself on a task, you’re more likely to end up finishing it faster.
REASON 2: ANXIETY AND FEAR.
Procrastination can happen because we are anxious about or afraid of the results of our work. Fear of the results of our work or the journey necessary to achieve a task can be challenging especially when we are afraid of being negatively evaluated.
★ACTION STEP: Incorporate mindfulness by staying in tune with your body and mindset to break anxious or fearful thoughts. Think about utilizing the AVP method from Dr. Becky Kennedy. AVP stands for: acknowledge, validate, and permit. Acknowledge that something is happening inside of you, validate why your feelings make sense, and give your body permission to feel what it’s feeling. This process helps to disarm the struggle between unwanted thoughts and feelings, giving you the opportunity to regain control over your mind as well as keep yourself grounded.
REASON 3: LACK OF MOTIVATION.
Sometimes procrastination takes place because our motivation to act is low. Numerous studies illustrate how motivation is the driving force behind accomplishing tasks and goals. While what motivates us can be extrinsic (external rewards) or intrinsic (internal rewards), internal motivation is a POWERFUL motivator.
★ ACTION STEP: Shift your perspective and draw upon your intrinsic motivation. For example, when you start to procrastinate, shift your perspective to how your work or task can help others. When we know that our work will make a difference to someone else, it makes us work harder. Likewise, if you're working on a simple, mechanical task, try using external rewards to increase your motivation. Maybe all you need is an ice cream cone, a massage, or a new book to inspire you to get busy and take action.
REASON 4: PERFECTIONISM
Sometimes we procrastinate because, as perfectionists (guilty ✋), we cannot bear the thought of producing something that does not meet our high expectations. So as not to “fail”, we postpone the actual work on the task and instead, spend our time musing on how to best complete the task to meet our high-quality standards.
★ ACTION STEP: Try to keep your tasks “bite-sized.” Tackling perfectionism requires disrupting all-or-nothing thinking (like I am a brilliant writer, or I cannot put together an interesting thought). Break down tasks into smaller pieces, which not only makes them more manageable, but also leads to more frequent feelings of accomplishment and motivation. Small victories build momentum!
We can procrastinate because our emotional drive to delay is stronger than our drive to act.
Today, we’ve discussed some of the “whys” behind procrastination and some go to strategies for crawling out of a procrastination funk.
What are some techniques you use to mitigate procrastination? What are you taking from today’s post?
I love hearing from you in the comments below – or connect with me on Linkedin!