Procrastination: The Reasons Behind and Possible Solutions

6 min read 2023 Mar 21

Anxiety due to an approaching deadline while the task is not even started is a feeling too many are familiar with. Procrastination, or the conscious act of delaying duties or unpleasant tasks, is often used synonymously with laziness. However, that’s not the case.

Procrastination refers to postponing specific tasks because of an emotional response to them. Fear of failure, perfectionism, or simply the tediousness of activity can be the culprit.

Procrastination often causes stress, guilt, and negative consequences, such as missed deadlines or poor performance.

It’s a common occurrence many people experience, although the severity and frequency of procrastination can vary widely.

Why Do People Procrastinate?

Procrastination is not a mental illness or condition but rather a behavioral tendency; thus, it cannot be treated in a traditional sense.

However, while emotions and learned behaviors can highly influence the need to procrastinate, overcoming it includes changing said behaviors and regulating moods.

To better understand this tendency, discussing why procrastination habits arise is essential. Several factors can make a person procrastinate, including:

  • Fear of failure. People may avoid tasks that they fear they will fail at. Usually, either because they lack confidence in their abilities or because they don’t want to experience the disappointment of not achieving goals they set for themselves.
  • Perfectionism. Some people may feel compelled to perform tasks to a very high standard. Often, people with low self-esteem aim for perfection – this can lead to procrastination if they think they cannot meet their own expectations.
  • Lack of motivation. If a task does not seem exciting or enjoyable, people may avoid it in favor of more pleasurable activities.
  • Time management issues. Procrastination can occur if a person feels overwhelmed by their work or struggles to manage their time effectively.

It’s difficult to stop procrastinating when one or several factors influence emotional responses to assignments. Hence, to overcome it, it’s vital to understand the individual reasons affecting you and work on improving them.

Conditions and Comorbidities Affecting Procrastination

While emotional responses and certain assumptions can highly increase negative emotions and the need to procrastinate, having a mental illness or condition that increases negative feelings can contribute to procrastination.

Several comorbidities can lead to chronic procrastination and decrease the ability to finish essential tasks on time.

  • Anxiety. People who experience anxiety may avoid pressing projects if they trigger their anxiety. For example, college students may undergo academic procrastination when dealing with complex subjects daily.
  • Depression. People with depression may lack the motivation to work on duties, such as household chores since they feel overwhelmed and possibly indifferent to the environment around them.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with ADHD may struggle with impulsivity, low self-control, distractibility, poor time management skills, and other similar issues. ADHD symptoms can make it challenging to stay focused on assignments.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with OCD may feel compelled to work on assignments in a specific order, leading to hesitancy if they cannot meet their rigid standards.

Dealing with procrastination is already tricky, and it may be even more frustrating when pre-existing mental conditions contribute to it. However, there are methods to help people fight it.

How to Overcome Procrastination?

It is debatable whether overcoming procrastination entirely is possible. Motivation can decrease if certain situations produce negative emotions; sometimes, people might seek immediate gratification instead of working extensively – that’s completely normal.

However, chronic procrastinators can experience a decrease in their quality of life due to putting things off all the time. In this case, it’s essential to seek help.

Working on comorbidities to stop procrastinating

Before focusing on why you procrastinate, addressing preexisting conditions that affect behavior is vital. For example, if you procrastinate because of anxiety, seeking help to manage anxiety is crucial to see progress.

There are several ways to work on comorbidities:

  • Seeking professional help. Working with a counselor or licensed therapist and taking medication (if necessary) can significantly improve mental conditions and ease symptoms. When symptoms of anxiety, ADHD, or other conditions are more or less under control, managing procrastination can be simpler.
  • Handling them individually. Therapy might not be easily accessible or available for everyone. However, various resources can assist in managing comorbidities. Designing a personal mental health plan or following a personalized plan like the ones offered in Sensa can be tremendously helpful in improving mental health.
  • Support groups. A group of friends and family members, a supportive online community, or even group therapy can provide emotional support and encouragement during difficult times and give advice.

Techniques to control procrastination

Managing procrastination can be tiresome, but it has plenty of long-term benefits – more productivity, less stress about approaching deadlines, and improved self-discipline. These traits can benefit your career, personal projects, and relationships, help you get through tedious tasks, and assist in many other areas of your life.

Establish a consistent routine

Developing a daily routine helps you keep track of your activities throughout the day and enables you to manage your time more effectively. Create a routine involving exercise, cleaning, cooking, and socialization. Dedicate time for your hobbies, plan meal times, create a sleep schedule, and include other important tasks or meetings.

People who procrastinate tend to avoid chores and seek instant gratification. Following a routine helps balance leisure and work more efficiently. The Sensa app offers an activity tracker to help establish a routine and prevent procrastination.

Make a priority list

A long to-do list can be overwhelming and unnecessarily increase stress levels. Instead, creating a priority list can separate all duties into small, manageable chunks and plan ahead.

While the most urgent tasks might be the reason for procrastination, having priorities provides clarity and allows one to concentrate on critical assignments or a single project instead of the whole workload.

Set achievable goals

Working just for the sake of working is unmotivating and brings little satisfaction. To improve motivation, it’s good to have a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve.

Set achievable goals and think of objectives that will help reach them. You can set goals for areas like:

  • Career (e.g., achieve a particular position, get a raise, switch jobs, etc.)
  • Education (e.g., graduate from college, complete an online course, read 3 books on a specific topic, etc.)
  • Family and friends (e.g., spend one evening with your family every week, help your children do homework twice a week, reach out to your friends at least once a month, etc.)
  • Personal development (e.g., read 10 books a year, exercise for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week, etc.)

Having goals gives motivation to work toward them, thus preventing procrastination. Additionally, goal-setting has long-term rewards – all small tasks will pile up to a massive improvement over time.

Use mindfulness techniques

Being an emotional dysregulation issue, being in touch with your emotions is required to stop procrastinating.

Procrastination can induce negative thoughts and anxiety. Therefore, by sitting and listening to yourself, you can make sense of your feelings and what’s stopping you from achieving your goals.

Are you putting things off for the future because you don’t want to do them, or is something else stopping you?

Meditation, positive self-talk, self-compassion, and other mindfulness tools can assist in understanding your mind and being more accepting of yourself. Various mindfulness techniques can be found in the Sensa app.

Complete Tasks With Ease

Procrastination can be a frustrating and disruptive behavior, but there are strategies and techniques that people can use to overcome it.

People who procrastinate on things that are important to them disallow themselves from reaching their true potential, adding more stress and mental strain on themselves.

Remember, procrastinating is not being lazy but not being connected to your emotions. Hence, recognizing and actively seeking to change your behavior is the first step in procrastination management.

Eliminate Procrastination

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