Doug Dvorak's Blog

Why we Procrastinate

Why we Procrastinate and How to Stop (Eventually)

Have you ever had an important task that needed to get done, but you just didn’t want to get started on it? Perhaps you are in school, and you have a paper you need to finish but you would rather play Call of Duty? Maybe you have some important paperwork to complete but you end up doodling on the internet for hours instead? These are examples of procrastination.

Whether it be avoiding the task, prolonging the task, or doing another task entirely, procrastinating is something we are all guilty of doing at some point in our lives. Who knows? Maybe you are procrastinating right now by reading this blog instead of helping out with essential household chores?

Lightheartedness aside, it is a common problem that prevents a lot of people from completing important tasks done on time. There are many reasons why we procrastinate and by understanding them, we can develop ways to stop ourselves from doing it. Read on and learn why we procrastinate and how to stop … eventually:

Why We Procrastinate

First, it is important to know that just because somebody procrastinates does not automatically mean they are lazy. People who procrastinate often want to complete the task at hand but have trouble bringing themselves to do it. One of the primary reasons why people procrastinate is because they do not want to do it, no matter how important it is.

That does not mean they are refusing to do it or don’t understand that they need to do it, they are just putting it off because it is boring or tedious or unpleasant in some other way. This can even be the case for things you usually enjoy doing, but may not want to at that moment, especially if it is something you have to do for work.

So, they wait until the last minute at which point they have to scramble to get it done, which leads to a much higher level of stress which can result in the work being a lot sloppier than it otherwise would be.

Oftentimes, people will fool themselves into believing they are not procrastinating by doing a completely different task that they enjoy doing even if it is not nearly as important as the task they should be working on. A common joke among college students is that if their bedroom is spotless, it is because there is an essay due that they really do not want to do!

Another major reason people procrastinate is fear. This depends on the task, but for the most part, people will procrastinate because of the fear of negative consequences such as failure. People will avoid a task if they are not confident in their ability to do it. The irony is if they wait until the last minute, they are actually making a bad situation a lot worse than it needs to be.

They may also be feeling overwhelmed, not knowing where to start. They become anxious and decide to avoid doing any of it to get their mind off it. But it will come back to bite them as when they finally get around to it, they will have less time to do it. But it could also apply to things they need to do, like test if their car will run or go to the doctor for a checkup, but they are afraid of getting a negative result. But waiting will often make the problem worse, they may have waited too long and now something more manageable has become more difficult.

But maybe the problem is not solely in them or the task, but the world around them. In our modern era, with algorithms trying to vie for everyone’s attention, it has become increasingly easy to become distracted. It is not solely a modern issue, as there have always been things that can distract us. Maybe there is an event going on that you don’t want to miss out on, little things around the house that aren’t distracting you, or something else that is also important that needs to get done, like another assignment or a family emergency. In the latter instances, withholding on a task is more important to focus on more important things , but the general concept is that distractions are a problem for those who procrastinate.

Finally, one possible reason is because they may have a mental condition that makes performing certain tasks more challenging. Many people who are neurodivergent struggle with focusing on certain tasks, leading to them procrastinating, simply because of the way their brain is wired. People who suffer with depression may also struggle with procrastination as many of them find it difficult to find the motivation to do almost anything. That is not to say everyone with these conditions will procrastinate, nor that those who have them can’t overcome it, but it is something that should be taken into consideration. It should not become an excuse for people with these conditions, rather they should be given guidance or find ways to help mitigate these problems, something that everyone who procrastinates should do.

How to stop

It’s easy to say, “just do it” or “stop being lazy,” or even “you’ll regret it later,” but those are cop-outs that don’t address any practical ways to stop procrastinating. The first step in learning how to stop is by understanding the problem and why exactly you are procrastinating, many reasons why being mentioned in the previous section. Once you understand why you are procrastinating, the next step is to find a method that can better help you manage your bad habit.

Dean Bokhari, the founder of Flash Books, said in an article he wrote for Boise State University on procrastination: “Reduce the number of decisions you need to make during a given day by making those decisions ahead of time. Rather than frantically figuring out what you’ll do on any given day, a better way to approach your day would be to take a few minutes at the end of each day to quickly map out the following day.”

Plan out your day before you start working on your tasks. Decide what you’re going to do so that you don’t have to worry about making any last-minute decisions. Know what tasks you want completed by what time and schedule yourself to grant you enough time to get it done.

If the tasks themselves seem too much for you to manage, break it down into more manageable, doable segments. There are times where some people put too much on their plate and expect themselves to finish. But instead of trying to get everything done at once, separate it into different parts for different times. This way, you’ll be able to get different parts of the task done, while also granting you that sweet satisfaction of feeling productive, while actually being productive.

If you feel distracted, find ways to disconnect yourself from those distractions. Turn off your phone and go to a work environment where you’ll be more inclined to get your work done, like a library or a coffee shop. Finally, procrastination may also be a sign that you need to take a break. In which case, instead of half-heartedly trying to get something done and avoiding the task, just take a proper break and get back to it later. While it is important to keep yourself scheduled and to keep your deadlines in mind, you’re not going to get much done if you’re exhausted. You’ll feel much better than if you took a day off, rather than trying and failing to get a task done on that day, though do keep your deadlines and your colleagues in mind while doing so.


Request a Free Phone Consultation


Book Doug For Your Next Event