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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Why You Procrastinate: 7 Possible Reasons You Can’t Get Anything Done

Why You Procrastinate: 7 Possible Reasons You Can’t Get Anything Done

If you can’t get anything done, you need to confront these seven harsh truths that reveal why you procrastinate.

1. You let distractions interrupt you constantly.

I’d like to emphasize the word LET. People like to complain about how “distracted” they are, and most of them aren’t willing to accept that they are responsible for that reality.

No one is holding a gun to your head and demanding you to answer texts the second you receive them or accept more responsibilities than you could possibly handle.

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If you feel overwhelmed, you need to deal with the fact that it is your fault. I don’t say this to judge you, because I’ve been guilty of both those things myself, but you need to accept personal responsibility; if you can’t do that, don’t even bother reading the rest of this article. 

2. You brag about your ability to “multitask.”

Focus is a skill that is in short supply in the information age. Everyone is so obsessed with doing more things that they never stop to consider the fact that it might be more productive to do fewer things more effectively.

How productive would it be to take a customer phone call while performing a transaction in person if juggling those two things results in mistakes that otherwise could have been avoided? How efficient is it to stop writing an article or essay every five minutes to answer a text that isn’t urgent? How successful do you think you will be if you’re so accustomed to distraction, that you don’t even know what concentration feels like?

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If you really think multitasking is a good idea, I dare you to answer those questions to prove me wrong.

3. You think long and hard, but don’t do much.

Planning is a prerequisite for long-term success, but as the saying goes, “there can always be too much of a good thing.” The best plan in the world is worthless if you never take action. George Patton summarized this point nicely when he said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

4. You blame your problems on other people.

If you get upset when another person gets a promotion instead of you, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to cry me a river. Look — even if you deserved the position, how productive is it to gossip about another person? If anything, you’ll just alienate that coworker and make yourself look like a sore loser, which isn’t going to help your cause the next time you pursue an opportunity for advancement.

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5. You obsess over stuff you have no control over.

“Obsessing over things I can’t do anything about sure makes me feel better about myself,” said nobody — anywhere — ever. Do NOT fall into this trap, because it will only result in self-inflicted stress and regret.

6. You can’t say “no” to anything, ever.

While it’s great to have friends you love to hang out with, you can’t expect to achieve anything worth talking about if you spend all of your time with other people. Highly effective hustlers know they must spend the occasional night working alone if they want to achieve their goals.

7. You read articles like this all the time, but never actually apply them.

I love to read, because it gives me the opportunity to discover new thoughts and ideas that challenge me to grow; however, the best self-help article in the world can’t save you if you’re not willing to implement the material in your life. Leave a comment below telling us how you’re going to take action.

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And if you’d like to help your fellow procrastinators who can’t get anything done, make sure to check out this article too: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why We Procrastinate After All?

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

Is Procrastination Bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How Bad Procrastination Can Be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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Procrastination, a Technical Failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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