Why Do People Procrastinate?

by: Greg Frost

It is extremely common for us to put off doing something simply because we are too lazy to do so. However, procrastination goes beyond that. It is a habitual and intentional act to delay doing or completing their responsibilities, and over time, can have severe negative impact on the person’s life. Their overall wellbeing suffers as well, as feelings of guilt, inadequacy, stress and depression may kick in.

Why do people procrastinate then? More often than not, people procrastinate not because they are lazy. There are many causes and reasons for procrastination, and below we shall discuss a few of the more common ones. By understanding the reason and the emotions behind your procrastination, you can then go about getting rid of this bad habit.

Perfectionism

Some people have unrealistically high standards and expectations, and this causes them to procrastinate as they feel that they do not have the skills and abilities that are needed to complete it satisfactorily. They are afraid of attempting it, and not doing it perfectly, hence they make excuses that they need to acquire more knowledge before they can attempt it. The best way to break out of this cycle is to tell yourself that you can do it, and the task is easier than what you think it is. Or perhaps, you need to speak to your superior to draw up accurate and realistic level of expectations.

Anger

This occurs when you find yourself avoiding the task, or simply refusing to complete it. The cause of this could be an argument with your superior, or your teacher or project team. The feelings of anger and resentment against them can translate into an unwillingness to do what they have assigned you to. Another common reason for procrastination could be the anger felt at having the task forced upon you, when you are either unwilling or uninterested in it, and have expressed so and been ignored. This would cause feelings of resentment and result in avoidance.

Negative Thinking

These are the people who constantly harbour thoughts that they are not good enough, or that they always fail, and are probably just stupid and incapable. This kind of negative thinking makes it difficult for them to attempt projects, especially important ones as they feel so inadequate that they should not even be doing a task of this magnitude or importance. The root cause of this form of thinking could be previous failures, or abrasive and abusive comments from people around them, causing them to be labelled with their own inadequacies and perceived shortcomings.

Hence, there are many different reasons why people tend to procrastinate, and this is a bad habit that many people are guilty of. There is a difference between being momentarily lazy, and procrastinating as a habit. By identifying the reason for your procrastination, you will be able to eliminate it and finally get your work done on time.
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