3 Reasons we Procrastinate and How to Reduce the Times we Do so

If you found yourself reading this article instead of working or finishing a project due tomorrow and haven't even started yet, feel no shame. Consider this a safe space, you are amidst procrastinator friends.

Have you ever sat down to complete a task and suddenly realized that you had to rearrange the bookshelves and alphabetize them, or you need to do some cleaning in your house. Hey, maybe you spent a lot of energy and effort taking the dirt off every dish, and that’s something your parents would be quite proud of, right? Next thing you know, it is already the end of the day, and you haven’t finished that one task you had to complete before starting to do all these chores.  Timothy Pychyl and Fuschia Sirois defined procrastination as a “form of self-regulation failure that involves the primacy of short-term mood repair and emotion regulation over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.” We try to delay those things that must be done because they cause us negative emotions connected to the task, such as being anxious, discontent, or bored. Here are some reasons why we procrastinate and how to try and stop ourselves from doing it too often.


1. Fear of Failure

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In most cases, we don’t even want to start finishing a task because we think that it will not be completed correctly, that everything will go wrong, and we don’t believe in ourselves sufficiently. In these cases, what we’re doing is that we’re exposing one of our defense mechanisms: avoidance. We avoid feeling discomfort, which we think will occur in the future and is related directly to the task and our predictions of its result.

What to do about it? Permit yourself to be wrong every once in a while. Do not be immediately skeptic about the results of your work. It is perfectly normal to learn from the mistakes you make from time to time to do better in the future.


2. You feel overwhelmed

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Cast Of Thousands/shutterstock

I know that sometimes our “to-do list”  has 10 million things that need to be finished, and we don’t even know where to start. This way, we end up doing…well, nothing. This can happen when we have no plan whatsoever on how we will tick those things out of our list. Or we have that task that feels utterly difficult to complete, causing us anxiety by just thinking about it. That is why we pretend that this task doesn’t exist. (Like finishing up your Graduation thesis – yeah, that’s a tough one).

What to do about it? – First things first, prioritize. Go through your list and figure out what needs to be done immediately. Underline and tick the most urgent activities, one task at a time. You`ll feel as good as when you exit all the tabs on your laptop after long research. This will make you feel accomplished and inspire you to finish the other tasks.


3. Environmental factors and distraction

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As hard as you try to focus, being or working in a noisy environment is a red flag for your productivity. I mean, some circumstances make it harder to get things done. Chatty co-workers, buzzing phones, and sharing the office with someone can make you prone to procrastination.

What to do about it – Find a calming place that you find comfortable working in. This way, you will not get distracted by people or the environment. And how about you leave your phone away for a few minutes. Those Facebook or Instagram notifications won’t help you out, right? Or will they?! I don’t know if you have ever heard of the Pomodoro technique. This is where you do one thing at a time – monotasking. It’s exactly the opposite of multitasking. You have to set a timer for 25 minutes and work without being interrupted, and then you can have a 5-minute break where you can check your phone or just catch a breath.

Most importantly, The fact that you procrastinated the day before does not mean that you`ll continuously do so. Beating yourself up for procrastinating won’t help you change the way you behave. Instead, give yourself a fresh start, forgive yourself, and have some self-compassion.


Photo: Netrun78/Shutterstock


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