Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why do we Procrastinate?

Everyone procrastinates.  We put things off for numerous reasons, it is part of being human. 

Picture source here.

So, how do we know when our procrastination is becoming a real problem?  The easiest way to determine if it is a real problem is to assess the consequences.  There can be both external and internal consequences; external could be if you did not receive a scheduled raise due to frequently missing deadlines and internal could be a feeling of anxiousness for not completing items.  If I procrastinate making my bed in the mornings, and it does not hurt anyone including myself, who cares?  When my procrastination has me anxious and worried, it is time to look for a solution.

Procrastination is actually nothing more than a very bad habit.  It is actually a habit that can be easily overcome if we understand the specific origin of this habit. 

Here are several reasons why we procrastinate.
  1. Because we are afraid.  (Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of loosing autonomy, fear of being alone and fear of attachment)
  2. Because we expect ourselves to be perfect.
  3. Because we do not like what we are doing.
  4. Because we are just too busy.
  5. Because it works.  (When we are successful in spite of our procrastination, we tend to continue the behavior)
How do we overcome procrastination?
  1. Find out how you procrastinate.
  2. Create a more productive environment.
  3. Challenge the myths to overcome the habit.
  4. Break down the project into the smallest possible items.
  5. Choose a new attitude.
  6. Ask for help when needed.
  7. Get unblocked.
  8. Make yourself accountable.
  9. Leave your project and in sight.
  10. Evaluate your  strengths and weaknesses.
  11. Hone your skills.
  12. Learn how to tell time.
  13. Make a un-schedule.
  14. Set a time limit.
  15. Be realistic about how long the project will take.
First, explore the reasons why you procrastination and experiment with ways to work differently.  Do not expect immediate change, the procrastination habit took a long time to form and it will not change overnight.  Slowly but surly you will change the habit for the positive.  If you stop punishing yourself when you procrastinate and start rewarding yourself for your small successes, you will eventually develop brand new non procrastinating habits.

Good Luck!


Burka, Jane B. and Lenora M. Yuen. Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publ. Co., 1983.
Ellis, Albert, and William J. Overcoming Procrastination. New York: Signet Books, 1977.



Susan G said... [Reply to comment]

Very good article. And all very good reasons why we procrastinate! Sometimes just knowing why we do something can help us solve the problem!

A Daddy Blog said... [Reply to comment]

Great topic. This could help people. Thanks for posting it! I'll try to work on my procrastination... later.

Reese said... [Reply to comment]

Loved your article!