Procrastination. It happens to all of us. So why should you care?
If you value your physical and emotional well-being, you have a lot of reasons to WANT to care, because procrastination can be responsible for depression, insomnia, and gastrointestinal issues.
At work or at home, procrastination can lead others to feel you aren’t dependable, reliable, or interested in being a valuable, supportive member of the team. They might think you are no longer an asset to them.
There are many reasons why people procrastinate. But here are my favorite 10 main causes of procrastination along with some tips on how to beat them.
1. Fear of Failure
The fear of failure can literally stop you in your tracks like a deer in headlights. Suddenly, you want to focus on anything but what you’re working on. It’s because you’re terrified of producing anything at all out of fear of being judged as not good enough.
How to Beat Fear of Failure: In my opinion, NOT trying at all is the only way you can ever really fail. You can actually learn a lot about yourself if you’re willing to be open to seeing the ‘miss-takes’ you’re making.
I’m not talking about the mistakes which we often feel are beyond repair. But rather, focusing on the slightly incorrect steps that can be adjusted so you learn, grow, and eventually find that successful outcome.
2. Fear of Success
Many people procrastinate because they don’t feel worthy of it. So they sabotage themselves over and over again. Often, these people are so focused on finding ways to create diversions for themselves that they aren’t even aware that they themselves are causing their own problems.
How to Beat Fear of Success: Figure out what your priorities are. Set up firm boundaries for everyone and all projects you have in your life. Start making self-love based decisions. The more you choose to know your worth, the more successful you’ll become.
3. Fear of Change
Even when we want to change for the better, sometimes, the fear of the unknown keeps us from taking the steps we need so we simply stop taking any steps at all. We fear changing who we are, because even if we are uncomfortable with where we are in life, we’re at least used to it.
Change – even good change – can often be terrifying.
How to Beat Fear of Change: To break your cycle of sameness, do ONE small thing each day to put yourself out of your comfort zone. It could be as small as simply smiling at someone you don’t know on the street. Even taking small steps to create a tiny change will lead to big positives in your life.
4. I Don’t Know How
It’s pretty easy to procrastinate when you just don’t know how to do something. The not knowing how leads to overwhelm which then leads to feeling being stuck and frustrated.
How to Beat Not Knowing: New skills can easily be learned when you choose to reject the fear of the unknown. Breaking projects down into small, manageable steps can make anything easier. It’s okay not to know everything to reach the end result. All you need is to take the next small step.
5. Failure to Launch/Apathy
You know how at the beginning of the year everyone joins a gym or vows to quit smoking, but within a few days (or sometimes hours) they’ve given up?
That’s because if it doesn’t seem fun, interesting, or easy, we tend to procrastinate, stall, or distract ourselves. Sometimes, we ignore it until it’s too late and we have to get it done!
How to Reign in Apathy: If it’s something like you’re constantly late to work, it might be a sign to get a new job because you don’t like the one you currently have. If it’s going to the gym or getting taxes done, hiring someone to help us motivate ourselves is perhaps the best way on how to stop procrastinating.
Outsource, delegate, ask for help. Or in some cases (when we have no choice), do it as quickly as possible to free your mind and body up to do something more interesting.
6. Lack of Focus and Fatigue
If you have a lot of clutter, an illness, or an insanely busy schedule, you’re probably having difficulty performing certain tasks because you’re too tired to think or function.
Every decision seems difficult and overwhelming for you. Even making an effort to help yourself feels nearly impossible.
How to Beat Lack of Focus and Fatigue: Here’s a great quick exercise to help you focus and re-energize.
Take a few moments to sit or lie down. Start by focusing for 30-60 seconds only on what you can hear. Next, spend another 30-60 seconds focusing on what you can see. Repeat the process for things you want to taste. Finally, focus on what you can feel.
Within a few moments, you’ll be feeling grounded and more empowered. You can also try scheduling in time to get more sleep.
7. I Like the Rush
You know who you are. You like to wait until the last minute because you think that it will somehow motivate you into producing great work under duress. You also somehow have convinced yourself that it’s way more fun to act in this way.
How to Beat the Thrill of the Rush: While this can be a hard habit to break, one way to do so without completely losing the thrill of the rush is to work on a project in segments. Do most of the work in a timely manner – but leave a little until the end so you can feel that same excitement.
This time, your work will probably be better. You’ll actually finish on time, without the stress and judgment of others.
This is procrastination in the form of fear that, if your work or effort isn’t absolutely perfect, you’ll be judged or criticized. So you conclude that there’s no point in even trying.
These fears force you to reason that you’d rather be known as someone who doesn’t come through,rather than as someone who finishes on time but produces lousy work. The outcome is rarely positive for anyone involved.
How to Beat Perfectionism: If you do fear what others will think of your work, communicating with them about their expectations will enable you to deliver better results. This is a lot better than just not showing up.
Oftentimes, people respect the fact that you just tried more than anything else.
Also, stop attaching so much weight to the outcome, when the journey is the best part! It’s where you learn and grow.
9. Control Freak
This procrastination technique is just a fear of the unknown.
You have NO idea what to expect. So you think that if you control every aspect of your life, things will somehow be okay. This never works, because in reality, we have very little control over anything. If we tried, we would drive ourselves – and everyone else – crazy.
How to Beat Being a Control Freak: Learning to let go isn’t always easy. But if you start off with simple steps, you’ll get there. One is to head out into nature or to a quiet space and allow your emotions to come up. Just sit there and be with them.
The reason you feel a need to control is because you don’t like feeling your emotions. But if you actually allow yourself to feel all your emotions, the need to control will stop. The emotions won’t kill you – but stuffing them deep down inside just might.
10. Lack of Time Management Skills
You think you have plenty of time to get other stuff done. Then, all of a sudden, you realize you’re late for the meeting, or for work, or the project won’t be done on time. You’re not looking like the most reliable person to be around.
How to Gain Time Management Skills: There may be other reasons why you can’t finish something on time (like you just don’t want to do it). But if you are excited about a project or meeting with someone and you’re still late, there’s a problem with how you think about time.
Start by planning your day ahead of time. For example: try scheduling 15-30 extra minutes to each task to ensure you get it done as planned. Soon, you’ll discover how much time you actually need to accomplish tasks throughout your day. It is then that you can make adjustments accordingly.
The above steps – along with knowing your priorities, making self-love based decisions, and maintaining healthy boundaries – all help you avoid procrastination. They will lead you on the path toward a happier, healthier, more productive life.