Individuals may engage in procrastination for any of a wide variety of causes. One of the benefits of learning about the causes of procrastination is that it might lead to insights into one’s procrastination habits and, ultimately, solutions. In this article, you will know the possible reasons why you procrastinate.
Table Of Contents−
- What does procrastination mean?
- Why is it not good to procrastinate?
- Reasons why you tend to procrastinate
- Undefined goals
- Disconnection from future self
- Considering more convenient options in the future
- Seeing tasks as having no immediate gratification
- Having unrealistic expectations (too much optimism or pessimism)
- Escaping anxiety
- Being indecisive
- Feeling completely unable to cope
- Being a perfectionist
- Having little faith in one’s abilities
- Having depression
- Insufficient drive
- Being lazy
- Reduced ability to exert control over one’s behavior
- As a form of rebellion or defiance
- Being easily distracted
- Tips to avoid procrastination
What does procrastination mean?
Putting off important tasks or decisions till later is a classic example of procrastination. It’s procrastination if you know you should be doing something but spends time mindlessly surfing the web.
Why is it not good to procrastinate?
A long list of other problems is linked to procrastination, including greater stress and poorer physical and mental health. Moreover, a correlation has also been found between procrastination and negative outcomes such as lower earnings and poorer grade point averages at school and work.
Reasons why you tend to procrastinate
Those who postpone frequently have wondered, “why do I procrastinate so much?” alternatively, “why do I continue to put off doing what I know is best for me?” Understanding the root causes of your procrastination is essential to developing an effective strategy for overcoming it. Therefore these inquiries are critical. Here are some of the reasons why you are prone to procrastination.
In contrast to when one has specific, well-defined goals, procrastination is more common when one’s objectives are more general or abstract.
Example goals like “become fit” or “start exercising” are too broad and may cause avoidance of action. You can make this more concrete by specifying what day you will go to the gym, how many minutes you will work out, and what exercise you will do. With more specific statements, you are more likely to carry it through.
Furthermore, there are other variables besides a lack of a clear description that might make a goal seem abstract. The construal-level theory posits, for instance, that ambitious but unlikely aims are also conceptually vague.
In other words, if a person thinks it’s highly unlikely that they’ll achieve a given objective, they may start to see that goal as unattainable and impractical, which in turn increases the possibility that they’ll put off working toward it.
Disconnection from future self
People often postpone because they cannot connect with their future selves in the current moment. To put it another way, procrastination might occur when a person has a temporal self-discontinuity (or temporal disjunction) in which their future self seems far from their current self.
Even if a doctor stresses the importance of changing one’s diet, some people may put it off, thinking that the negative effects of their current diet won’t become apparent for a few years at the earliest and, therefore, aren’t their concern (i.e., as the problem of their future self).
Considering more convenient options in the future
People put off taking action now because they anticipate taking a more desirable activity down the road. Such a frame of mind can cause chronic postponement, even if the procrastinator never gets around to doing what they puts off.
An individual may begin an exercise routine at home because they want to wait until they join a gym and begin a more intensive program, even though beginning an exercise routine at home would be helpful and wouldn’t prohibit them from switching to an intensive program later.
Seeing tasks as having no immediate gratification
People show a present bias when they put off doing the things that will benefit them in the long run in favor of those that would bring them immediate gratification. Tasks with consequences (such as incentives or punishments) that are experienced later are typically put off because people tend to undervalue results that are far in the future.
The term “temporal discounting” or “delay discounting” describes this phenomenon, founded on the timing of outcomes.
For instance, individuals put off studying for exams until the last minute because they can more easily justify slacking off when the exam is still weeks away than when it is only days away.
The discounting rate declines with time, so there is no consistent link between the length of time until a reward is received and the perceived worth of that reward. Therefore, the further away a reward is in the future, the less of an effect the passage of time has on diminishing the value of that reward.
Having unrealistic expectations (too much optimism or pessimism)
When people put off doing anything, it’s often because they have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they can get around to it later on. If a student has an assignment due in a few weeks but feels they have plenty of time, they may put it off till then.
Habitual procrastinators and those who rarely put off important work are susceptible to the planning fallacy, the tendency to overestimate one’s ability to complete a forthcoming task by a larger margin of time than necessary.
Someone who has trouble getting started on a task may decide to put it off until the next day in the hopes that they will be more motivated to get to it then. This is true even if the person has put off the same task several times in the past for the same reason. But pessimism can also induce people to put off doing anything until later if it convinces them that they will inevitably fail at it.
Procrastination can occur when a person avoids tackling a task because of the anxiety they may experience. For instance, if one is worried about doing a task, one may put it off indefinitely.
However, this won’t solve the situation. Suppose a person’s anxiety rises as a consequence of their procrastination. In that case, the cycle continues: they feel anxious about the task at hand, so they put it off, which raises their anxiety, which increases their procrastination, which increases their anxiety, etc.
Procrastination can occur when people put off making decisions until a later time. This can be problematic in several contexts, including when a person is stuck between two or more potential courses of action or needs to settle on a specific option before moving forward with their larger goals.
Analysis paralysis, also known as choice paralysis, occurs when people cannot decide because of excessive thought about their options.
For instance, one may put off writing a research paper since they can’t settle on a subject. Putting off making a choice is a common form of procrastination. Hence the term “decisional procrastination” has come to describe this pattern. This is in contrast to the conduct of procrastination, which consists of putting off action even after one has decided that it is the one wants to take.
Feeling completely unable to cope
It’s common for people to put off doing things because they’re worried about being able to do everything on their to-do lists. There are many potential triggers for feeling overburdened, including having a single work that seems enormous in scope or having a big number of tiny tasks that pile up.
There are two possible responses: either the person will try to avoid the activities altogether or attempt to tackle them but will become paralyzed before they are finished.
Being a perfectionist
There are a few ways in which perfectionism can contribute to procrastination: first, by making a person so terrified of making a mistake that they never take any action; second, by making a person so afraid of doing something with any flaws that they never do it until it’s perfect.
A writer may put off starting a novel because they want every sentence to be perfect before they start. In a similar vein, a writer who has finished their book may keep putting off sending it out for comments until they are completely satisfied with it.
It’s admirable to strive for excellence in one’s work. Still, the problem arises when perfectionists set unreasonable standards for themselves, giving themselves a plausible excuse to put off getting their work into the world.
Having little faith in one’s abilities
One’s confidence in their ability to take the steps necessary to reach their goal is reflected in their level of self-efficacy. Procrastination is a common result of low self-efficacy. If someone is assigned a task they don’t think they can do, they may put it off because they anticipate failing.
Procrastination can be a symptom of mental health issues, such as depression. Depressed people often put off necessary tasks because they don’t have the willpower to do so. Symptoms of depression include a lack of energy, an inability to focus, and a loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities, all of which might lead to postponing their completion.
People who lack the drive to do something are more likely to put it off. You tend to put off doing a task when you see no value in doing it.
Accordingly, people show greater procrastination when motivated to accomplish a task by an external source of incentive, as opposed to when driven by their own internal and autonomous factors.
Hence, this occurs frequently when an individual’s primary motive for carrying out a task is extrinsic rather than intrinsic, such as when a child is under parental pressure to do well in school, rather than when an individual wish to feel that they have effectively absorbed the content.
Laziness is the inability or reluctance to exert the work necessary to achieve one’s goals. A person’s laziness may be a contributing factor to their procrastination. An example is when one might put off doing tasks because they don’t want to get out of bed.
It’s important to remember that, while procrastination is often attributed to laziness, other factors like worry or fear of failure may truly be to blame. Also, although they may have some symptoms, lethargy and a lack of motivation are quite different concepts.
A person may have a strong desire to achieve a given objective, but if they aren’t willing to put in the effort required, they won’t get anywhere near their goal.
Reduced ability to exert control over one’s behavior
The ability to control one’s behavior to realize one’s goals and pursue the course of action that best serves one’s long-term interests is indicative of self-control. Not surprisingly, given the importance of self-control in enabling people to self-regulate their behavior, a lack of self-control makes people considerably more inclined to delay.
Procrastination is a symptom of poor self-control, which can be a root cause of the behavior or a contributing factor when combined with additional factors like task aversion or the fear of failure. It’s important to remember that a lack of self-control might cause people to avoid more desirable but more time-consuming activities in favor of those that are more convenient and less taxing on their willpower.
As a form of rebellion or defiance
Procrastination can be a form of defiance against authority or any other control source. Procrastination can occur for various reasons, including vengeance and hatred, and it’s not always limited to chores that are explicitly assigned to a person.
An office worker, for instance, can put off doing an assignment because they have a negative attitude toward their manager and feel slighted that they are forced to work under strict deadlines.
Being easily distracted
Science has proven that the human brain isn’t designed to concentrate for very long before shifting its attention elsewhere. Combine that with a distracting office environment or the temptation to waste time on social media, and you have the perfect storm for putting off work.
This kind of procrastination, however, could not always be the result of a subconscious effort to avoid or postpone responsibility. It’s entirely attributable to the company culture or the people you interact with daily. That’s a question only you can answer. It’s also worth noting that our attention spans vary greatly from person to person and from activity to task.
Tips to avoid procrastination
The trouble with procrastinators is that they are fully aware of the consequences of their actions, yet they still put off taking the necessary steps to get things done. Learning to control our feelings is a key recommendation. Psychologists call these wrong ways of thinking “cognitive distortions,” and they must be confronted first.
Catastrophizing, for example, is one of these: “This is too hard. “I’ll never be able to do it well,” “I should be more responsible,” and “No matter how hard I try not to, I constantly put things off” are all examples of negative self-talk.
When you realize that you have anxious or stressful ideas that are probably not true, it’s time to reframe those thoughts. By shifting our perspective, we can alter our emotional response and, in turn, how we act.
What we think, how we feel, and what we do all have an impact on one another and are the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy. And she tells us to forgive ourselves, too.
Feelings of apprehension and anxiety are associated with procrastination. If we can forgive ourselves for when we’ve put off important tasks, we can lessen the weight of the regret we feel about doing so. With a more compassionate outlook on ourselves, we can better put our attention where it needs to be—on the tasks at hand.
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