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Last Updated on August 29, 2019

Why Do We Procrastinate? 9 Psychological Reasons Behind

Why Do We Procrastinate? 9 Psychological Reasons Behind

Everyone procrastinates. Since the dawn of time, people have been putting things off.

Sometimes, procrastinating is harmless. Take for instance the laundry. No one likes doing the laundry, and as long as you’re not starting to re-wear clothes that have started to get a bit stinky, you’ll still be a functioning member of society if you put off the laundry for a few hours (or days).

In order to research this topic, I procrastinated writing this article until I was getting pretty close to the deadline (to my editors: ha, I’m kidding. Please keep me on staff). And you know what? Even though I put it off a little bit (again, totally for research purposes), it’s still getting done.

Here are nine reasons other than article research that you might find yourself procrastinating:

1. You Want to Control Everything

If you put things off, they can’t go wrong! Right?

Unfortunately, you can’t put things off forever.

By procrastinating, you hold the most control over whatever task you’re working on. However, this also means, obviously, that that particular task isn’t being done.

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2. You See a Task as One Big Project

Honestly, almost everything we do can be broken down into little manageable parts.

Take, for instance, the laundry that I mentioned above. If the laundry seems like a daunting task to you, break it down into steps. Collect all your dirty clothes. Separate colors and whites. Put your clothes on a wash cycle. Put them in the dryer. Fold them.

Laundry is obviously a basic example, but this can apply to a number of situations. By breaking things down into parts, you’ll find the task much more doable.

3. You’re a Perfectionist

Sometimes, being a perfectionist works in your favor. However, it can be tempting to put things off or delay completing tasks simply because you’re worried about the outcome being less than perfect.

Just remember that it’s okay if things don’t turn out exactly how you had them in your head.

Plus, a completed, albeit imperfect, task is better than an uncompleted task.

4. You’re Worried About Failing

It can be tempting to procrastinate tasks because of a fear of failing. Of course, you cannot fail at something when you don’t do it at all.

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Unfortunately, this is an unproductive way of thinking.

Facing your fear of failure will help you eventually overcome that fear, or learn to manage it.

So next time you think about putting something off simply to avoid potential failure, tackle it head on.

Learn how to conquer your fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step) You’ll grow as a person from the experience.

5. You Don’t Have a Lot of Self-Control

There are definitely varying levels of self-control. Everyone is different. However, there is a point in which your self-control can get in the way of productivity.

Procrastinating comes easier to people who naturally do not have the discipline to complete tasks in a timely and organized manner.

Take a look at this article and find advice about self-control: How to Improve Your Self-Control and Live Your Dream Life

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6. You Don’t Make Lists

Procrastination can come as a result of something falling through the cracks. If you put something off and then forget to write down that you need to do it later, it’s possible that you could entirely forget about the first task.

If you’re a forgetful person, make a to-do list with all your tasks on it, and only cross them off when they’re 100% completed. Here’s The Right Way to Make a To Do List and Get Things Done.

7. You Underestimate Time Commitments

It can be discouraging when a project takes you two weeks to complete when you thought it would take one.

If you consistently estimate time commitments incorrectly, it might be causing you to procrastinate more than you would otherwise.

It’s tempting to put things off if you think you have the time, but realizing you don’t have as much time as you thought can cause serious scrambling to get things done.

8. You’ve (Just Barely) Gotten By

Procrastinating a task does not always equate to worse work. Some people work very well under pressure and can produce very good work, while others are simply lucky .

Eventually, there will come a time when procrastinating doesn’t go so well. Be mindful of the quality of your work and make sure your last-minute rush doesn’t show.

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9. You’re Lazy

This is a common reason that most of us procrastinate. We just don’t feel like doing whatever it is we’re putting off.

Being lazy doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It’s totally okay for you to sometimes lounge around and watch TV rather than mow the lawn. Just don’t let that behavior become habitual.

Bottom Line

So here you go, 9 most common reasons why people procrastinate. If you can relate yourself to one of these reasons, it’s time to take actions and beat procrastination.

Take a look at Lifehack’s CEO Leon’s guide on procrastination:

What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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