Do you procrastinate? We all do it from time to time. Some of us are experts at it. We typically wish we didn’t do it. When we have a task at hand, or a step we need to take to move forward on a project or goal, what are we waiting for?
We’ll define procrastination as the undesirable time gap between intention and action. So you intend to do something, but drag your feet. Why? What are you waiting for? Here are ten reasons why people procrastinate. Make a note of which ring true for you and watch for our post next week on how to battle these challenges and avoid procrastination.
- Lack of Self-Control – someone who procrastinates because of self-control issues may be impulsive or unable to prioritize.
- Shiny Objects – email alerts, paper piles, interruptions, or other distractions can serve intentionally or unintentionally as avoidance factors, causing us to procrastinate on what we really ought to be doing.
- False Beliefs – erroneously thinking, “I work better under pressure” makes some people put off tasks until the last minute. They may even pull it off and get the task done by the deadline (which unfortunately reinforces this false belief), but it is often not the highest quality of work that could have been produced if the task had been given more time.
- Fear of Failure – If someone does not have the confidence that they can accomplish the task successfully, they may procrastinate, preferring to be seen as lacking in effort than in skills. The opposite can be true as well. People may procrastinate because they have a Fear of Success – worrying that if they accomplish a new task or project at work for example, they will always be expected to perform at the new level. They may also be concerned with what others think of them if they succeed and fear putting themselves up on a pedestal.
- Thrill Seeking Itch – some people enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies the last minute push to get something done “under the gun.”
- Task Related Anxieties – avoiding the difficult, boring or undesired task. “I just don’t want to do it.”
- Unclear Expectations – vague priorities or direction might lead to procrastination if you don’t know how to start, what the outcome should look like, or what steps to take to get the task done.
- Depression – for someone who is experiencing clinical depression, it can be hard enough to get out of bed in the morning, let alone to get started on something new. Tasks may feel overly difficult or pointless.
- Punitive Parenting – an individual who was raised with highly critical parents may have messages running through their mind that they aren’t good enough and/or they fear additional criticism. Procrastination can be seen as a form of rebellion for these folks too. (“No one will tell me when to get this done. I’ll do it on my terms”)
- Perfectionism – This is the #1 cause for procrastination. Perfectionism can be paralyzing to productivity. A perfectionist will put off starting something that they worry they can’t do perfectly and they will also put off finishing a task because it never seems “good enough” to call done.
Which of the above 10 reasons people procrastinate resonated the most for you? Are there a few that hit home? We’d love to hear your thoughts.