Updated: Apr 21
If you’re a procrastinator, then you’ve probably asked yourself at some point “why do I procrastinate so much?”
“why do I keep procrastinating even though I know it’s bad for me?”
I know, because I have been there myself. Plus this is one of the most common topics that comes up with my clients.
Why you procrastinate, and keep on doing it even though you know it gets in the way of your progress, are important questions to ask yourself , since understanding why you procrastinate is crucial if you want to figure out how to stop doing it.
When you are aware of what is behind your procrastination you are better equipped to know how to overcome the impact it may be having on you, and put strategies in place to stop delaying the action required in order to achieve your goals.
Here I have listed the 8 most common reasons of why we procrastinate, and actions you can take to stop doing it:
1. Your goals are too vague or abstract
Review your goals and make them concrete and defined.
e.g swap 'I want to find a new job' for 'I want to find a job by February for 3 days a week that pays X amount, and where I am able to use the skills of X Y and Z'
2. You want everything you do to be done perfectly
While it’s reasonable to want to create and publish high-quality work, the problem starts if you aim for unattainable flawlessness, which gives you a seemingly valid excuse for unnecessary delays.
Practice accepting a 7/10 rather than aiming for 10/10 with everything you do.
3. You are afraid of being judged or evaluated by others
Often your fear of what other people think is exaggerated or unjustified. Other people's actions and thoughts cannot be predicted or controlled by you.
Focus your time and energy on what is in your control.
4. You are afraid of failure
The more important the task is to you, the more you fear failing at it, and the higher your levels of procrastination.
Write a list of what you are afraid of and what the worst case scenario could be, then write what you would do to repair that situation if it did occur.
You might be delaying applying for a new job - even though you know it represents a great opportunity for career advancement - because you feel that you don’t deserve to be at a better place in your life.
Practice self compassion.
Your procrastination is as a way of placing barriers in your own way, so that if you fail it can be attributed to lack of time, rather than your abilities. You might be relying on deadline adrenaline to get things done.
Identify your most important tasks and do them first. Use a tool like the Eisenhower Matrix to organise which of your tasks adds the most value and needs to be prioritised. Also consider the Pomodoro Technique to get laser focussed on 25 minute blocks of tasks.
You can't decide which next step to take in your career, so you end up doing nothing.
Try simplifying the options available to you; too many options leads to decisional procrastination. Avoid spending too much time weighing up the pros and cons of a decision - instead set a timer, or fix a deadline, of when a choice has to be made.
8. Prioritisation of short term mood
You are prioritising how you feel right now, rather than the things that will help you feel better longer term - this is known as short term mood repair.
Spend time creating a long term vision, and have a visual in place that you can refer to, such as a vision board.