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Why do we procrastinate?

Updated: Dec 12, 2023


"I'll do it later", we've all said. Procrastination has gotten the better of everyone from time to time. But what, exactly, is procrastination? It is simply putting-off or delaying a task. Sometimes it's harmless and the task eventually gets completed but other times, procrastination can feel debilitating. So why do we do it?

Before we find out why, we need to first consider the “what.” What are the tasks we are procrastinating? Procrastination can show up anywhere in our day-to-day activities. It could be work, school, bills, chores, fitness and health, relationships, conflict, goals, or any other myriad of day-to-day tasks. When we delay or avoid a task, we are often avoiding more than just the physical requirements to complete it. The creative reasons we use to delay the task can be associated with some common beliefs and assumptions that we've developed throughout the course of our lives. Though these beliefs and assumptions may have been useful in certain situations, they are less than useful in overcoming procrastination.


Being in control: "I like my room messy"

Fear of missing out: "I'll do this when I get back"

Fear of failure: "What's the point if I can't do it 100%?"

Fear of the unknown: "What if something goes wrong?"

Low self-confidence: "I can't do this"

Low energy: "I need energy, I need to rest"

By identifying the belief or assumption driving the procrastination, we can work on challenging thought processes.


Being in control: "It would be nice to find things easier"

Fear of missing out: "I can catch up with my friends next time"

Fear of failure: "Even if it's not perfect, at least it'll get done"

Fear of the unknown: "I'll cross the bridge if I get there"

Low self-confidence: "I can give it a try"

Low energy: "I'll do this first"

Managing procrastination may feel impossible at times. When we reframe our mindset as an alternative to leaning into our procrastination tendencies, it might feel easier to overcome. Start small, think about why you’re procrastinating, and see if you can tackle whatever you’re avoiding in a new way.


Sources:

  1. CCI - Procrastination Resources for Clinicians. (2019). www.cci.health.wa.gov.au. https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/For-Clinicians/Procrastination

  2. Definition of PROCRASTINATE. (2019). Merriam-Webster.com. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/procrastinate


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