What is Procrastination

& How to Stop It (Complete Guide)

By Leon Ho, Founder of Lifehack

Have you already tried different tips to try to regain motivation and overcome procrastination? These tips can work up to a point… until they don’t, and you fall back to square one…

Every time you procrastinate, your motivation and confidence level drops even more. It’s a downward spiral that would make you feel stuck and powerless to overcome.

We don’t deliberately procrastinate; it is a habit that we fail to let go of. We need willpower and drive to let go of the habit of procrastination.

For whatever you need to learn about Procrastination, this is your go-to guide.

What Is Procrastination?

Piers Steel, the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Donedefines procrastination in this way:[1]

“Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

In other words, procrastination is doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. The end result is that important tasks are put off to a later time.

Delaying action or making a choice is a form of procrastination. For example, people who procrastinate have a week to complete a task but keep putting it off until the very last minute, even if they intend to begin working on it earlier.

A lack of self-control leads to procrastination, which is often related to the mental condition known as ‘akrasia.’ This is when one acts against their better judgment to avoid doing something important.[2]

Procrastination stems from a psychological perspective, where short-term mood repair and emotional regulation (instant gratification) are prioritized over long-term performance and well-being. To put it another way: when procrastinators are reluctant to take on a task because they’re anxious or find it tedious, they postpone it to avoid experiencing negative emotions in the here and now.

Procrastination can also be exacerbated by disconnection from one’s future self. Even if they are aware that this is not the case, people still believe that any happy or unpleasant results they may encounter in the future will be experienced by someone else. [3] When it comes to procrastination, this means that the prospect of incentives or punishments drives them.

What Happens When You Procrastinate?

Procrastination is bad. It drags your progress and makes you unable to get anything done. If you procrastinate, you will lose your precious time and blow opportunities.

Here’re some of the reasons why procrastination takes a toll on your productivity and performance:

Lower Performance

Whether in academics or work, a person who procrastinates cannot give their true potential.

Not because they are slackers, but because the lack of perfection, over-planning, or just not being in the right headspace makes it difficult to start at the right time, and certain unrealistic expectations worsen the quality of input and effort put into a task.

Consequently, one turns out to be exhausted and worn out, and dissatisfied with their contribution to academics or work.

Lose Time and Miss Opportunities

It takes something to realize that the time you spent procrastinating was the golden time of opportunity that you just lost. Procrastinators don’t take advantage of opportunities and chances when they are fresh and relevant.

Too late, they realize the gig they are putting off for ‘some other time’ is going to cause a great deal of stress and regret. So, neither does loss of time return nor does an opportunity, so realization of the importance of time is crucial to beat procrastination.

Suffer From Low Self-Esteem

Since procrastination kills productivity in highly capable and efficient people, the hastily-finished end product or project may have a person doubt their true potential. This feeling of incomplete satisfaction may root in the vicious cycle of procrastination and not the lack of ability.

Your perfectionist mind may put off important things in order to not mess them up, but last-minute hassles worsen your state of mind. You may begin to doubt yourself and feel less confident about things that you are passionate about.

Start Taking the Wrong Decisions

Procrastination is seen by psychologists as an emotional reaction that makes decisions more difficult and future tasks more complex. Every decision we make comes with a degree of uncertainty. We experience fear when faced with uncertainty because our brains are programmed to avoid it.

If we don’t do something to combat our fear, it will begin to paralyze us. Our procrastination occurs when we put off a task because it appears too difficult, and the repercussions if we don’t complete it outweigh the effort required to do so.

To dive deeper into procrastination, I’ve broken it down into more comprehensive chapters:

Final Words

Procrastination is a bad habit that many of us fail to get over or simply don’t know how to overcome it once and for all. After reading this article aims, you should have gained insights on how to break our procrastination loop and start getting things done.

Now it is time to put the learnings into action. Take the right action today and stop procrastinating!