5 reasons why you procrastinate and what you can do about it

I’ve never really considered myself as someone who has an issue with procrastination. I’m too anxious to leave anything to the last minute and I plan carefully to be sure I don’t miss deadlines. Then I sat down to write this blog post and I wanted to check my phone (again!), texted a friend and caught myself wanting to check Facebook. HA! I AM a procrastinator too! And it seems like I’m in good company. According to Piers Steel, author of The Procrastination Nation, 95% of people admit to putting off work. 

What’s up with that? 

Well for starters research is starting to show us that procrastination is a result of the emotional part of the brain versus the more logical part. (Check out this article on hbr.com for details.) I am sure you can relate to how you feel when when something touches your emotions and how quickly it overtakes logic. For example, I want another kitten, I have it’s name picked out (Botticelli!) and yet logically this is the dumbest thing I can do. 

The other thing is that we are triggered to procrastinate by feeling bored, overwhelmed, confused, uninspired, afraid, etc. In the moment it may feel good to push things off, but according to Psychology Today, procrastinating can bring more stress, sleep issues and poorer performance. 

But not to worry — we need not throw our hands up in surrender! 

Here are 5 reasons why you procrastinate and a playsheet to get you going again: 

REASON 1: It’s difficult and not clear. 

The project is going to take a lot of brain power and you are dreading it or you think you know what needs to be done but you aren’t really sure. 

What you can do about it: 

Break the project down into tiny steps. Next put a time on your calendar to tackle the first task when you have the most energy and focus. That may be in the morning or late at night, you decide. Complete the task and repeat with the next task until the project is complete. 

It the project isn’t clear, ask the right person for clarity. Do a piece of it and then review it with them to be sure you are on the right track. 

REASON 2: It’s boring. 

This is just a repetitive task that you need to do… over and over and over again. You're sick of doing it.

What you can do about it: 

Think of the big picture. How does this fit in with your overall goal? Why are you doing this in the first place? How is this boring and repetitive task a bigger piece of the puzzle? 

Once you’ve established why it’s important, plan a time to sit down, focus and get it done. Does it usually take an hour? Challenge yourself to see if you can get it done in 45 minutes. 

REASON 3: It’s overwhelming and scary. 

The project carries a lot of weight and there is a lot at stake. Just the thought of it is giving you a heart attack. You couldn’t get started even it you wanted to. 

What you can do about it: 

Work with an accountability partner like a friend, colleague, mentor or coach. Bounce ideas off of them, talk things through with them and then ask them to hold you accountable to finishing small pieces of the overall project by a certain deadline. Little by little the project will get completed and you will build your confidence in the process. 

REASON 4: It’s stupid. 

You are thinking, “why am I even doing this thing in the first place. It’s a waste of my time.” 

What you can do about it: 

It’s true it may be a huge waste of your time so is it really something that you need to do? Can you cross it off the list or give it to someone else to take care of? If not, how can you change your frame of mind around it? Is it really that bad? Sometimes busy work is an opportunity to not work at 150% and that feels good. 

REASON 5: It’s something you’re not in the mood to do. 

Ugh, its GOT to get done, but truly you are not in the mood and you don’t think you’ll be in the mood tomorrow or the day after either. 

What you can do about it: 

For some people the magic really happens at the last minute so consider create false deadlines. Agree to deliver the project a day early or ask someone to hold you accountable for delivering it on a specific date. These enhanced deadlines can add the pressure you need to get yourself motivated. In addition set yourself up for success. Avoid distractions, get yourself comfortable and plan to work when you are at your best. 

So tell me, do you find yourself procrastinating? What will you try the next time it sneaks up on you? Can you share any tricks that have worked for you? Respond to this email or post a comment and let me know! 

P.S. Don’t forget to download your playsheet — it will get you started!