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Last Updated on March 2, 2021

Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How to Tackle Them

Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How to Tackle Them

Procrastination is the antithesis of productivity, yet you’ve likely found yourself asking, “Why do I procrastinate?” more than once in life. Procrastination is a habit, and one that many people don’t even realize they’re engaging in.

However, it’s possible to learn how to overcome procrastination once we know why people procrastinate.

Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It can make time management useless. This often appears at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

This article dives into the different types of procrastinators, and if you’re looking for a quick solution to overcome procrastination, don’t miss the free Fast-Track Class – No More Procrastination. Join this intensive session for free here.

So why do people procrastinate and self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 main reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own life and learn how to tackle the source.

1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

If you put off a task long enough, then you don’t have to face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things “just right” may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

How to Tackle It

Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

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For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confidently, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

Imagine your boss telling you how impressive your presentation was. Think about how it would feel and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

Perfection doesn’t exist. Simply put in your best effort and realize that’s all you can do. This will help you stop asking, “Why do I procrastinate?”

2. The Dreamer’s Lack of Action

This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal-setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

How to Tackle It

Once you have your idea, write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

To help you do just that, there’s The Dreamers’ Guide To Taking Actions And Reaching Your Goals. With this free guide, you can design your action plan effectively and achieve your goals. Grab your free guide here.

For example, if you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering to different ideas.

3. The Overwhelmed Avoider

This is one of the most common answers to the question “Why do I procrastinate?”: the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether, choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

The search then starts for a more enjoyable task, and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

How to Tackle It

Break the challenge down into smaller tasks, and tackle each one individually.

For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles.

Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help, or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

If you’re asking, “Why do I procrastinate?” it may be that you either have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another, or spending too much time deciding what to do.

This often happens to people who like to multitask or have a variety of things to do all the time. Things can get mixed up, and prioritization can become an issue.

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How to Tackle It

It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task, and make a list in order of importance.

For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with “urgent” emails from colleagues, but you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

If you’re not great at prioritization, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix[1], which helps to organize tasks based on their importance and urgency:

Why do I procrastinate? Use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize.

    5. The Distraction-Prone

    Another common answer to “Why do I procrastinate?” is simply distraction.

    Research has shown that our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time, and it looks for something else. Throw in a bunch of chatty colleagues or the desire to mindlessly check social media, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    It’s also important to note that our attention spans depend largely on the task and on our individual brain. Dr. Gemma Briggs, a psychology lecturer at the Open University, explained, “How we apply our attention to different tasks depends very much about what the individual brings to that situation”[2].

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    How to Tackle It

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time, and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting things done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focused, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Final Thoughts

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    And that’s ok! Most people ask “Why do I procrastinate?” and most are likely to find answers here. Fortunately, that means there are specific steps you can take to overcome procrastination and be more productive. Get started today!

    More Tips on Overcoming Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2021

    9 Strategies To Stop Putting Things Off And Start Getting Things Done

    9 Strategies To Stop Putting Things Off And Start Getting Things Done

    Life is exciting, and it offers many opportunities to experience moments of pure exhilaration. You’ve no doubt experienced that feeling of being in the clouds as you think about all the good things happening in your life. It’s also frustrating when things don’t work out as planned. It’s common for unexpected challenges to send our minds into a dark spiral. It feels like nothing is going right in moments of challenge, and everything around you is falling apart.

    We all start each day, week, month, and year with good intentions. We know that to experience the benefits of accomplishing our goals, we have to stop putting things off. However, the daily work that it takes to achieve our major life goals is not always straightforward. It’s hard work, and for that reason, too many people settle for a “good enough” life.

    The good news is that there are definite strategies you can use and mindset shifts you can make to stop putting things off, accomplish every goal you have, and live a life most people will only dream of creating.

    Here are nine essential ways to accomplish your goals and stop putting off the work it takes to create a life of success and accomplishment.

    1. Start With a Vision for What Accomplishment Looks Like

    People often don’t accomplish their goals because they don’t have a clear picture of what success and accomplishment would mean to them. Successful goal setting starts with clarity on what you want to accomplish. Putting things off can be traced back to a lack of clear goals.

    Your vision fuels your purpose and the action you take each day. To stop putting off working on your goals, take some time to get very specific about all the things you’d like to accomplish in your relationships, work, business, finances, friendships, health, and social impact.

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    Creating a vision board can help because we as humans are visual by nature. That can be as simple as changing your phone screen saver to an image of what success and accomplishment mean to you. You have to know where you’re going if you hope to get there.

    2. Set a Realistic Plan and Stick to It No Matter What Is Thrown at You

    Being organized can be your best strategy to put off procrastination. Along with being clear about your vision for accomplishment, you should have a realistic and specific plan for how you’ll spend each day and take action. Whether it’s a once-a-week planning session or spending some time each night planning out the next day, have a roadmap that takes the stress out of what action to take and how to take it.

    When you plan, you wake up with a purpose, which helps you avoid endlessly wandering through your days not knowing what you should be doing. When you have a plan, don’t let the unexpected challenges of life throw you off. Commit to following your plan and not putting things off.

    3. Start Each Day With Things That Are Just for You

    The needs and desires of others tend to dominate our priorities. We start our days with urgent requests and the things other people want from us. Starting your day with other people’s tasks is the quickest way to put off working on your goals.

    To accomplish your goals and stop putting things off, start every day with tasks, goals, and moments that are just for you. Spend the first part of your day doing what you want to do and on the things that move you closer to your goals.

    As you start your day by prioritizing yourself, you’ll accomplish more of your goals and then be able to give to others from a place of strength. Don’t put others first and end up with not enough left for yourself—that’s when you’ll put things off because you won’t have the necessary energy.

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    Make yourself and your goals a priority. Your dreams, desires, and goals should have the primary position in your decision-making. What you want to accomplish is important and deserves your full attention.

    4. Commit to Making Consistency Your Only Option

    The best way to accomplish your goals is by embracing and committing to consistency. As you do the daily work over a period of time, you’ll take a step back and realize you’re closer than you think to accomplish your goals.

    Consistency has to be your only option if you want to stop putting off all the things you know you want to accomplish. Stop looking at the complete picture of what you want to achieve because that will overwhelm you. Focus on breaking your goals into bite-sized chunks that are digestible and lead to quick wins.

    5. Stabilize, Optimize, and Expand

    You create success when you use the “stabilize, optimize, and expand” growth strategy.

    • “Stabilize” means you get consistent with taking action on your goals each day. You get to a place where the resistance and struggle don’t keep you from putting in the work. You build healthy habits and make this work a lifestyle shift.
    • “Optimize” means you look at your planning, daily action, your goals and see where you can optimize each part of your process. Optimization helps expedite growth as you tweak what’s working and eliminate what needs to go.
    • “Expand” means you set bigger goals and commit to accomplishing the things that feel impossible. The expand phase is when you experience exponential growth because you’re moving beyond what’s comfortable.

    This simple but effective framework can give you a roadmap to accomplish more of your goals and stay off from putting off the things you want to achieve. Your goals are complex and should be treated as such. You need to evaluate and adjust.

    6. Celebrate Your Progress

    One of the reasons people put off working on their goals is because they never celebrate their process. You’re not a robot.

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    As you experience each win—no matter the size of that win—you should celebrate the progress as if you won the Olympics. You have to be your biggest cheerleader in the journey to becoming your best you.

    While most people think accomplishing their goals is the key to growth and consistency, experiencing progress is the real driver. When you make progress, you’re motivated and hungry for more. Amplify that feeling by celebrating each moment of accomplishment.

    7. Add More Fun Into Your Goal-Setting

    “All work and no play” makes the work feel like work. It would help if you worked hard on your goals, but hard work can be sustained for more extended periods of time when you mix fun into your schedule. You put things off when you’re not excited about what you’re doing.

    To accomplish your goals, you should add hobbies and activities you enjoy into your planning. It breaks up the pressure and helps you genuinely appreciate life and its experiences. Tapping into fun is a great way to build a successful life with balance.

    You can also make fun a reward for not putting things off. When you make progress, you reward yourself with pleasurable experiences. It can be a motivating prize and the inspiration you need to stop putting things off.

    8. Be Intentional About Living Your Best Life

    You’ll accomplish your goals and stop putting things off when you’re intentional about your decisions and are committed to living your best life. Only you know what your best life looks like and what you want to accomplish, but intentional action to get there is how you’ll make a life of accomplishment your reality.

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    Putting things off happens when your plan is not built with intention. You accomplish your goals when every action you take is aligned with your values and purpose. You create a remarkable life when you make progress and consistently pursue your goals.

    9. Purge Negativity in All Its Forms

    One of the most commons ways people sabotage their goal accomplishment is by letting negativity creep in. This can be:[1]

    • negative people trying to convince you that your goals are impossible because those people have already settled in their lives;
    • experiences you know will frustrate you, but you do them anyway because of pressure or a sense of obligation;
    • unhealthy relationships that don’t support your efforts to create a better life and are codependent.

    No matter the negativity, purging it is the best way to stay focused and motivated to continue accomplishing your goals. It can hurt to purge things and people, but it’s the best strategy to stop putting things off and achieve your goals.

    Final Thoughts

    Nothing stops you from setting and accomplishing your life, work, career, relationship, or business goals. It’s not easy, but it is possible with a plan and commitment to doing the work to become the strongest version of you.

    The question you have to ask yourself is, what happens if you decide to keep putting things off and neglect the goals you want to accomplish?

    Don’t be the person that finds out the answer to that question. Work hard and refuse to settle for a good enough life.

    No matter what you’ve been through, what happened in your past, or any setbacks you’re experiencing, you can accomplish your goals and live a life full of incredible experiences. It starts right now and when you stop putting things off.

    More Tips on How to Stop Putting Things Off

    Featured photo credit: Magnet.me via unsplash.com

    Reference

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