Why Do People Procrastinate?

There are any number of reasons that a person may procrastinate. I have listed many of the most common reasons below.

Procrastination is the one thing that stops many people achieving their dreams and goals. If not controlled it can become a self-defeating habit and it is vitally important that you break out of this habit before it takes over your life. I hope that you find the 9 steps that i have detailed below helpful in battling your procrastination habits.

The first step to beating procrastination is to clearly identify what it is that is causing you to procrastinate. Once you have identified what the cause is; it is then easier to put in place some of the strategies that I have listed later in this article to overcome your procrastination.

Procrastination put it off until tomorrow

Procrastination – I will start tomorrow

 photo credit

Why, would you put off doing something that you know needs to be done?

The main reasons that people procrastinate are:

    • Poor time management
    • An inability to prioritize
    • Overload of assignments or tasks due at the same time
    • Anxiety about the task
    • Feeling overwhelmed by the task
    • Fear of success & it’s possible consequences
    • Not knowing where to start or what is needed
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Being bored by the task
    • Negative feelings towards the task
    • Perfectionism (it needs to be perfect)
    • All-or-nothing thinking
    • Concern about not attaining your own standards
    • Avoiding things that are difficult or you dislike

What Is Procrastination?

Procrastination refers to the avoidance of performing a task which is required to be done (postponing until tomorrow what can or should be done today). Procrastination affects a person’s work and involves feelings like; inadequacy, lack of self esteem or self respect, stress, depression and guilt.

To read more on what is procrastination click here to read the Wikipedia listing for procrastination.

9 Easy Steps To Beat Procrastination.

Following are my 9 steps designed to beat procrastination and releasing its hold on you.

1. Deal With Your Fear

Fear one of the major contributors to  a person’s procrastination habits. The fears that you experience if you procrastinate can include, a fear of making serious mistakes, fear of failure, or fear of success or a combination of these. Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne, author of The Search for Fulfillment and contributor to Psychology Today,  suggests that challenging your personal faulty beliefs is imperative. If you’re afraid of success simply because you secretly believe that you do not deserve it, it’s imperative to realize that your own self-handicapping might be curtailing you from attaining your goals.

By addressing or tackling the fear that’s holding you back from getting started; you can start to overcome the habit of procrastination.

2. Start Easy

Getting started is sometimes the hardest bit. But once you get going and you get over that hump you now have some level of momentum. Once you have achieved this is it easier to maintain that momentum, your brain will keep on pestering you to continue with the assignment.

Why? It is down to a phenomenon in psychology called the Zeigarnik Effect, which states that unfinished activities are likely to remain in your memory. This is also why preparing a to-do list of items can be a very effective habit. If you don’t put these items down into a list they will continually keep on popping up in you head until you put them down.

Create a to-do list to calm the Zeigarnik Effect.


3. Make A List

Following on for the tip above begin by making a to-do list of things that you have identified that you need to accomplish.This has the effective of clarifying in your mind the individual steps that need to be completed to finish your project.

You should put a date and time next to each task if there’s a deadline or urgency that you require to meet. Estimate how long an activity will take for you to complete, and then double or triple that number.

This has two benefits firstly, you do not fall into the cognitive-trap of underestimating the time required for each project to be completed or done and secondly it is a way of giving yourself a little boost along the way. Imagine how you feel if you allocate 1 hour for a task and you manage to complete it in say 45 minutes. This is an achievement that allows you to experience a little reward.

Write this list and put it in an area that you are easily able to access it as a continuing reminder of what you should be focusing on. I feel the best time to do you list is at night before retiring, this enables you on rising to be quickly able to identify what you want to achieve and to get started straight away.


4. Break Projects Down Into Manageable Segments

When you’re faced with projects that are big, you sometimes feel intimidated, hopeless, or unable to achieve the task as it stands. With a big task it can be daunting when you look or glance at the sheer volume of work involved. You almost feel like you are beaten before you have even had a chance to start.

At this point you should take the big tasks on your to-do list & break them down them into more manageable segments. For instance, if you require writing a research paper for class (what steps do you require to follow?), if you are organizing a big wedding or family event (what supplies do you require to obtain and what are some of the things you require to do?)

Once you have made a to-do list detailing the whole process you require to go through in order to accomplish the assignment, you can begin working on individual `baby steps.’ This are basically the steps of any project management guru will follow when starting on a new project. Identify the end goal of the project and then identify the individual steps that need to be accomplished to achieve the desired goal.

Break larger tasks down into smaller pieces to enable you to get started, more importantly you will then be boosting your self-belief as your achieve these smaller milestones along the way to your ultimate goal.


5. Focus On Starting, Rather Than The Task Ahead

When you focus on how to finish something, you simply direct your attention and concentration to a highly idealized, vague future. Visualizing a finished task is enough of a motivation to some people. For individuals who are having a difficult time beginning a task, visualizing a future that is hard to grasp can be overwhelming and depressing.

In this case, the solution then isn’t to concentrate on finishing, but on beginning. Forget for a while about the finish-line, simply focus on your initial or first step. Bring your concentration to, what can I do right now to keep me moving or to get me started?

We are all aware that if we begin something enough times, we will eventually finish the assignment. Starting all by itself is normally sufficient to create enough momentum to get the ball rolling.


6. Recognize The Onset Of Procrastination

As you begin to address items on your to-do list, pay attention to when thoughts of procrastination begin to slink into your mind. The moment you have yourself thinking ` I do not feel like doing this today or now’ or ` I will have time to address or work on this later,’ then you should recognize that you’re about to procrastinate  and defer your task.

Instead of giving in to the urge, you should force yourself to continue to work on the task, even if it’s spending just a few minutes. In many situations, you may find that it’s easier to complete your task the moment you get started.


7. Eliminate Distractions

It is hard to achieve any real work when you keep shifting your attention to what is on TV or you keep snooping your friends Facebook updates.

Assign yourself some time during which you turn off all distractions such as television, social networking sites, and music and utilize that moment to center all of your time and attention on the activity at hand.


8. Reward Yourself

Once you’ve completed a task or even a small portion of a larger assignment, it is imperative to reward yourself (for your efforts). Give yourself the chance to engage in something that you find fun & enjoyable, whether it’s watching your favorite television show, looking at your friend’s pictures on a social network sharing site, playing your favorite video game, or attending a sporting occasion.

Go and celebrate those achievements, it is further motivation to keep you going and increases your self-belief that you can accomplish larger tasks.


9. Be Mindful

Fear of failure and perfectionism are one of the main causal reason for some people who suffer from procrastination. Some people just need everything that they do to be perfect from the very beginning. To try to avoid this type of behavior, listen to your inner monologue and be alert for any unproductive thinking.

When you have yourself saying things like `I want this task to be perfect or this will be catastrophe,’  your focus needs to change to ‘doubting your doubts’. One easy approach to do to achieve this is by shaking your head whilst thinking those negative ideas. It might sound childish, but according-to-a study, it can assist those who are chronically uncertain. This deceptively simple sounding intervention can work wonders for those that suffer this affliction and enables them to start taming their inner anxiety.


Final thoughts

Breaking the procrastination habit is not easy. After all if it was that easy and simple there would not be an estimated 70% to 95% of students indulging in procrastination on a regular-basis.

Remember procrastination doesn’t just affect students it can also inflict is damage on all of us from time to time.

The push to put things-off can be strong, particularly when there a lot of things around us that can provide fun and entertaining distractions. Whilst procrastination might not be something you can entirely avoid, becoming cognizant and aware of the very reasons why you postpone things and how to overcome the procrastination tendencies can help.

However by implementing these 9 easy steps to beat procrastination, you may find that it’s easier to put your nose to grindstone and get started on those imperative tasks.

Interested in learning more? Read 40 super effective ways to overcome procrastination