You’ve probably read a lot of articles on procrastination, or watched a few videos, but you still find yourself procrastinating. We’ve all been in the so-called ‘procrastination loop’… 🙂
I can’t guarantee that this blog post will stop you from procrastinating any further, but I can promise you that it will leave you with some thought-provoking questions and fresh concepts to explore.
If you’re not into long articles, here’s my video on how to break procrastination:
Before we get into my simple 3-step formula for beating procrastination, let’s take a closer look at the 15 reasons for procrastination.
We all know that procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions.
But we all have different reasons for procrastinating. Here are some of the most common ones:
When you’re striving for perfection, every task becomes a dread, because you’re aware of how much time and energy it will cost you to finish it.
I’ve already written an in-depth article on how to deal with perfectionism, so if you think that’s your reason for procrastinating, I suggest you check it out before you move onto the solution.
2. Short-Term Gratification vs. Long-Term Gratification
When we procrastinate, it’s often because we want that sweet rush of dopamine we’re so used to nowadays. We want a dopamine shot, we go on Instagram and upload a picture, or binge-watch a TV show on Netflix for hours.
Short-term gratification is all about receiving pleasure as fast as possible, without really thinking about the consequences in the long run.
Long-term gratification is about enduring the things that may not be as pleasant at the moment, but knowing that they will lead to great results and lasting fulfillment in the end. For example, when we procrastinate, we prefer pleasure over pain, and think about our short-term gratification.
3. Fear of Failure
We all want to succeed and procrastinating buys us time before we have to face the consequences of our actions. The irony is that the more we procrastinate, the more we increase our chances of failing.
But what is failure anyway? It’s just a perceived concept of not living up to our expectations of ourselves. If you lower your expectations and realize that life is full of mistakes, and we all learn from them, you will cut yourself some slack and ease up a little bit.
4. Fear of Success
That’s an interesting one. At first, it may seem that fear of success and fear of failure are almost the same thing, but they’re not. Fear of success is about being terrified of everything success stands for.
If you believe that successful people are bad or greedy, or that you will become a sellout, then you may be afraid of success. I’ve made a podcast episode on this topic: click here to listen to episode 60 from the Simplify Your Life Podcast.
5. Fear of Negative Feedback
This is a bit similar to being afraid of failing, but it needs to be discussed separately. When you’re afraid of negative feedback, it’s a sign you’re too invested in presenting yourself in a certain way. That means you need to loosen up your self-image and not care so much about what other people think of you.
Receiving negative feedback is a normal part of life, but if you’re struggling with it and want to feel liked and approved of, you need to work on your people-pleasing tendencies first. If you think that’s your reason for procrastinating, check out my video on how to stop people-pleasing:
6. Lack of Energy
Sometimes we may be looking at deeper root causes when the reason for procrastinating is right in front of us. When we lack energy, it’s impossible to push through with our tasks.
The important thing is to be aware of your low energy and not beat yourself up for it, because it’s simply a waste of time.
7. Feeling Overwhelmed
One of the main reasons we procrastinate is because we have too many things on our plates. When you feel stressed out, procrastination is your body’s way of shutting down for a while. All it wants is to protect you from the anxiety you’ve been feeling.
If you think that’s your reason for procrastinating, check out this article, where you’ll learn how to stop feeling overwhelmed and calm down your racing mind.
8. Mental Exhaustion
Lack of energy means you’re physically tired, but what about mental exhaustion? It happens more often than you think.
When you’ve overworked yourself, it’s extremely difficult to summon the strength to continue working. It’s important to remember that we’re not robots, at least not yet 😉
9. Task Aversion
Task aversion means avoiding a task because it seems unappealing, boring, or frustrating to do. We’ve all had chores we’d rather delegate to someone else, but we have no one to delegate them to.
For example, you may be dreading to wash the dishes or learn a new skill required to run your business smoothly, so you’re procrastinating as a result.
10. Lack of Motivation
Lack of energy is way more different than lack of motivation. When you lack motivation you may have forgotten your WHY: the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, your purpose, your end goal. And it’s extremely difficult to continue working towards something if you don’t know what that is.
If you think that’s the possible cause, check out this video on what to do when you have no motivation:
11. Self-Sabotaging Behavior
Procrastination is a bullet-proof way to sabotage yourself, even if it means arriving late for an important meeting. The habit of self-sabotaging is directly linked to low self-esteem. If we don’t believe we’re capable or deserving of better things in life, we will find creative ways to screw them up (procrastination is just one of them).
If you think that’s your reason for procrastinating, I suggest you read this article on how to overcome resistance.
12. Getting Easily Distracted
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not a made-up word and many people are suffering from it. Although we often say ‘blame it on my ADD baby’, the truth is that the Internet may have convinced you of having a mental disorder that you don’t really have 🙂
Your problem may be that you are just easily distracted and procrastination happens as a result of that. You know what you need to do, you’re about to go do it, and something shinier and prettier comes along…
13. Rebellion Against an Authority Figure
If you had an authority parent or caregiver, you may have developed a habit of rebelling against authority.
In this case, the authority could be your boss, or simply… yourself. If you work for yourself, guess who’s your boss… Yup, it’s a tough relationship, alright 🙂
14. Lack of Perseverance
Having perseverance is all about being persistent in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. The truth is, it’s hard to maintain focused on your goal when you have so many obstacles along the way.
As Ryan Holiday says in his book: ‘The obstacle IS the way.’ If you want to succeed in life, you need to be persistent and never give up.
I saved the best one for last… Let me tell you the truth: I had to work the hardest on NOT being lazy when I started my business. It’s so easy to procrastinate when you’re in your pajamas at home and your bed is in the next room.
But laziness is robbing you of your one and only chance to create something in your life while you’re still here. The antidote to laziness is remembering that you’re going to die.
Now that we’ve explored in-depth the 15 reasons for procrastination, let’s get to the solution.
I’ve read it all, watched it all, done it all. But I decided to come up with something that worked for me and hope it will help you as well.
I spent a lot of time explaining the possible reasons for procrastinating because I actually believe that by fixing the root cause, you’ll stop procrastinating.
So, here’s how you do that. Let’s try my 3-step formula.
Slow down, acknowledge your feelings, take action.
S – Slow down
F – Feelings
A – Action
If you’re procrastinating, that means you have resistance towards doing something. To let go of your resistance, you need to slow down first. Turn off all your devices, focus inward, take a few deep breaths and let go of your resistance.
If any feelings come up, acknowledge them. Notice that I’m not saying you necessarily need to express them, but you have to be objective about what’s going on. If you’re anxious, acknowledge that you are, but also know that this won’t stop you to move on to the next step, which is taking action.
Once you’re calmer and aware of your feelings, you can move into action. Let’s break down taking action into even smaller steps.
If you have an overwhelming task at hand, break it down into small chunks. For example, if your big goal is to write a book and you feel overwhelmed by it, set a manageable goal for yourself, such as writing 100 words per day.
Next, use the 5-second rule. The moment you feel that resistance coming up again, count down from 5 and just do it.
Once you’ve started, you’ve already beaten procrastination. Even if you get distracted at some point, your identity will change in time.
You will begin to believe that you’re capable of starting things without postponing them in time. And that is the solution I was talking about all along.
It all starts and ends with your identity. If you refer to yourself as a procrastinator, your mind will do its best to protect that identity and keep you stuck. If you do small steps towards setting goals and achieving them, you will slowly shift your identity from a slacker to a doer.
Here’s the biggest takeaway:Procrastination is a defense mechanism. Find what you’re defending against and you will no longer have the need to procrastinate. Click To Tweet
Like I said, finding the root cause is the solution. You won’t need any techniques if you know how to slow down, tune into your feelings, and then, move into action.
Now, I want to hear from you: Why do you procrastinate? Did you find your root cause? Comment down below 👇