7 Real Reasons Why We Procrastinate Way Too Much

Mallika Jhaveri , 06 May 2021

Procrastination is an art and a science that most of us hold a PhD in. The addictive feeling of wasting time when you have important tasks to take care of is a high like no other. I, personally, have binged the entire second season of Big Little Lies (should I be worried that I was weirdly attracted to Alexander Skarsgård‘s character?) on the weekend before I had a massive paper due. I got the work done by pulling an all-nighter when I could have easily taken time off during the weekend to do it. While we joke about being “serial procrastinators” and view it as something frivolous, procrastination is actually linked to our self-control and motivation which are affected by our surroundings as well as our personality. Turns out, we procrastinate for reasons deeper than simple laziness.

The following information is based on articles published by Psychology Today, Harvard Business Review and Counseling Today.

7 Real Reasons Why We Tend To Procrastinate Way Too Much

1. You crave pressure

For some people, deadlines and lack of time result in an adrenaline rush and make them work better. Maybe you feel that way too. You like working under pressure as you think it makes you quicker, efficient and more productive. While some people do genuinely perform well on strict deadlines, some make a total mess of the task at hand, and for the latter, this procrastination does not end well.

2. You’re indecisive

Do you ever get overwhelmed with stuff on your to-do list primarily because you just don’t know where to start? Even if there are just three things you need to get done, you get confused as to what to do first. This indecisiveness is controlled by three things: First, the more options you have, greater the indecisiveness. Second, the more similar the tasks on your list are, the more you will ponder about their importance and delay picking one to start with. And third, the more importance your choice holds, the more indecisive you will be. A friend of mine delayed proposing to his girlfriend by three whole years because he just couldn’t figure out which ring to get her and how to propose. Imagine that!

3. You get anxiety

Many people procrastinate because they feel anxious about getting something done. This is a real reason why we procrastinate. For instance, maybe checking your bank balance gives you anxiety, which is why you put off paying your bills on time. This anxiety, if crippling, can be detrimental to your well-being as well, so please be careful and aware of it.

4. You fear of negative feedback or criticism

Most of us can relate to this and fearing criticism is a real reason why we tend to procrastinate. You could face a fear of failure, which prevents you from getting started on the task at hand. The degree to which someone is afraid of failing is often related to how important the task is, so that more important the task, higher is the level of procrastination. Additionally personality traits like low self-esteem and low self-confidence lead to an increased fear of failure, which results in more procrastination.

5. You enjoy self-handicapping

You like to make it as hard for yourself to finish a task because you fear failing at it and would rather attribute this failure to not trying rather than your efforts. To put it simply, imagine you have to make a table. You are so scared and 99% sure than the table will crumble down. So, instead of blaming it breaking on your skill and craftsmanship, you’d rather blame it on your procrastination.

6. You lack focus

This implies two things; first is that you get distracted easily and second that your goals are too ambiguous. If you get easily distracted or suffer from ADHD, chances are procrastination is your forte. You sit down to finish your task but suddenly remember to water your plants, paint your nails or check your bank account. Secondly, if your end-goal is vague and abstract, you are more likely to put it off. For instance having a goal like “get fit” is too vague. One can perceive “get fit” in different ways and think of multiple things to do to achieve it. Instead, having a more clear goal like “Run 5K” or “lose 5 kilograms” can help streamline your efforts!

7. You’re plain exhausted

Whether it’s mental, physical or emotional, exhaustion can be the real reason why we procrastinate. This doesn’t mean your lazy or demotivated, but just that you’re tired and simply cannot function for the day. The best thing to do for this is take some time off, delegate your work and refuse more when it comes your way.

What, according to you, is the real reason why we procrastinate? Share it with us in the comments below!

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