Have you every procrastinated?
Of course, you have, you can’t deny that.
But why do you procrastinate?
The reason I’m writing this blog post is that I see a lot of (productive) people procrastinating, even myself. Whatever we try to do, using all these productivity hacks and methods, we will still procrastinate in some areas of our lives.
I myself think of me as a really productive person, I get a lot done every day and there isn’t a day that I don’t do anything. But even on my most productive days, I can still procrastinate, and I just keep asking myself the same question: Why do I procrastinate?
That’s something we’re going to find out now, I did some research and these are the things I found out on why we procrastinate.
Before we start looking at the reasons of procrastination, lets first have a look at what procrastination is.
What is procrastination
In the Cambridge Dictionary, procrastination is described as:
- “to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring”
And our loving friend Wikipedia is explaining it like:
- “Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline”
But my favorite description of procrastination is:
- “The action of ruining your life for no apparent reason”
As we can see from the descriptions above, procrastination is not something that is really helping us move forward in our lives. It makes doing tasks harder, learning something takes longer and it’s not really helping us in our lives.
Procrastination is just the act of postponing actions or decisions. For example, if you need to write 1000 words a day, like me, but then turn to YouTube and watch some Marvel explanation videos, that’s when you know you’re procrastinating (btw, I believe that Endgame should’ve ended differently, but that’s for another time…)
Okay, we’re back… Procrastination can be the cause of why a lot of people don’t reach their goals. There have been studies done that show us that procrastination is associated with receiving worse grades and increased levels of stress, which also directly makes your physical and mental health worse.
Why do we procrastinate?
When we need to decide whether or not we’re going to do the task at hand, doing it later will most of the time sound more comfortable, because it is. Our brains are wired to look for the easy and more comfortable routes in life, that function of the brain also plays a role in why we procrastinate.
You will have a struggle within yourself like there are two different voices that fight with each other whether to do the task or just procrastinate.
- One voice in you is trying to resist the procrastination and get the task done
- Another voice is trying to convince you why you should go do something else now.
To which voice are you going to listen to?
If you decide to resist the temptation, you’ve won, you have used your willpower correctly and have stayed strong. But if you’ll give in, and listen to the second voice, you will procrastinate and probably will feel worse in the long term when you remember that the task won’t disappear and you will still have to do it later.
People sometimes think that they are the only ones that are procrastinating, while actually all of us procrastinate in some areas. I bet you even Elon Musk procrastinates on things, even when he’s seen as one of the most productive people on earth.
But it’s true that some people might procrastinate more than others. The information we’ve already gathered on procrastination shows us that there are a couple of main points why one person might procrastinate more than the other.
- Less future focused
- Less willpower than others
- Less motivation than others
- More resistance to tasks at hand
There are some reasons why you might procrastinate more. I linked them up so you can look a little bit deeper into each of them.
Let’s have a look deeper and try to answer our question: why do we procrastinate?
The 3 causes of procrastination
So what are the actual causes of procrastination?
All the causes of procrastination we are going to talk about can strengthen the second voice that is telling you to procrastinate. Whenever you become aware of one of the causes, you will know how to defend yourself against them and have more chance to strengthen the voice in your head that is helping you do to do the actual work.
How I beat my own procrastination, is to look at all these reasons of procrastination and see which one I’m weak at that point in time and where I have to put more focus on.
The goal is to strengthen the first voice, the voice that tries set you up to work. It’s like a ‘though battle’ in your head, and depending on who wins more rounds, is the one you will more likely listen to.
Let’s have a look at all these causes that make us procrastinate.
1. You’re disconnected from your future self.
The moments that I procrastinate less are the moments when I remember where I want to be in the future and who I want to become. This reminds me that I’m a person who doesn’t procrastinate a lot and does what he said he would do.
But whenever I’m disconnected from my future self, just live in the moment and don’t care a lot about the future, I procrastinate a lot more. I won’t look at the consequences of my actions anymore.
For example, if I need to workout today but I don’t feel like going because I’m tired or just want to rest today, I remember why I workout. I want to be a “healthy 70-year old” who still can climb mountains and do all kinds of sports.
This reminds me again of the long term goal I have for my fitness. Because just going to work out for the sake of working out won’t make me do it. It will be just one of the many workouts that I’ve already done this year, missing one won’t matter right? Well wrong.
Connecting my present self with the person I want to be in the future, helps me decide to strengthen the voice that says you need to get the task done.
- 1 – 0 points for the ‘’good’’ voice in my head.
Whenever you are trying to do a task that seems only to be important at that moment, look at the reasons why that task might be beneficial for future you. Look at the bigger reasons behind it and don’t just think at the task at hand.
Even if it’s doing the dishes, if you are always telling yourself you want to be a clean and neat person, and you see yourself being really neat in the future, if you do the dishes now that will enhance that belief of you, if you procrastinate on it, you will do the opposite of what you want your future self to be.
What kind of person do you want to be?
2. Your willpower isn’t strong enough.
I found out that there are a lot of causes why people procrastinate but the main cause it a lack of willpower. I was starting to dig in more deeply about the power of willpower and what it has to do with procrastination.
Before you start improving your willpower, you should know what willpower actually means, because it’s sometimes misinterpreted, and seen as the same thing as self-discipline.
The Cambridge Dictionary explains it as:
- “The ability to control your own thoughts and the way in which you behave”
My own definition of willpower is: I
- ”It’s your power to control your actions, if you have more willpower, you will have more strength to decide what you want to do and won’t let your subconscious brain decide for you.”
Having more willpower will help you be in control of your decision to procrastinate.
I always believed that I have more willpower than most people I know, and I’m not sure yet how I exactly developed that willpower. That’s also one of my life missions, to understand that and help people develop their willpower.
For now, the research shows us that there are 3 main ways on how a person develops willpower.
- The first one is that willpower has a genetic component in it, which means that some people have a natural tendency to have more willpower than others, this is just genetics.
- The next aspect is how you got raised in the first 20 years of your life. Your parents and surroundings have a huge influence on you and depending on how these first 20 years were for you will tell if you have more or less willpower. If you never had to fight for something or do something hard, you might have developed a lack of willpower
- The last thing is what we do with our willpower when we’re an adult. Whether you were genetically gifted or you had an upbringing that supported your willpower doesn’t matter right now. All that matters is what are the actions you are taking right now?
Are you going to grow your willpower or make it worse?
Developing your willpower as an adult is pretty simple but not easy. You will have to do hard things every day and do the things you know are good for you but you don’t like to do. For example, taking cold showers every day, or going to the gym regularly, reading books daily or going beyond your comfort zone.
Every time you do something uncomfortable or hard, you build up your willpower a little bit. If you do this daily, this will transfer into a compound effect and you will have created an immense amount of willpower.
When you train your willpower and make it stronger, your first voice will have a bigger chance of winning.
- 2 – 0 points for the “good voice” in my head
3. You’re indecisive about what you need to do.
One of the biggest struggles that I’m facing to this day is the problem with decision making. I always have an issue with deciding what to do, where to go, what to eat, who to listen to and the list goes on and on.
This attacks many areas of my life.
I might be unable to make a decision on what I kind of diet I want for my next fitness period and because I don’t decide on the diet or foods, I will just eat whatever until I decide on what foods I will eat, once I decided for a diet, my willpower will make sure that I will stick to it. But it’s not until I make that decision.
There are different reasons why people like me struggle with indecisiveness, some of the main reasons are:
- Not deciding when to do your task. Not scheduling your tasks will have an indirect impact on your decision making and a direct impact on your procrastination. If you know exactly what you need to do, for example, write 1000 words for your blog post each day. But you haven’t decided when you’re going to do it, you will be less likely to do it.
A lot of us are always just winging it and forget that deciding when you’re going to do the task is also important. If we decided that we’re going to write the blog post at a certain time, we already committed that we’re going to do it and our brain is already mentally preparing to do it.
- Having too many options. When we have a lot of options, for example with choosing a diet, it will make it harder to choose what diet we want to go for. And when it becomes harder to decide which we are going to do, it will us take long until we make that decision and we will procrastinate on it, what will lead us on not doing the diet.
Be mindful about your decisions. If you have many options to choose from, just choose anything and start. Don’t forget that most choices are not life changing and if you decide something now and want to change your decision in the future, it will probably not be a big thing. Unless the decision is more important than just choosing a diet.
- The importance of the choice you have to make. Of course, when the decision is more important, it will become harder to make it. Most people won’t just decide to make a career switch in a couple of minutes.
When a decision is important, you will be more likely to postpone the decision and start procrastinating on the things you have to do. Be mindful of how long you are taking to decide on any particular decision.
It’s also important to keep in mind that decision making comes hand in hand with willpower. The more decisions you make during the day the less willpower you will have at the end of the day.
See your willpower as a glass of water, every morning the glass is full and with every decision you will make that day, you pour a little bit of water out of the glass. And with every decision, your glass will get emptier and emptier…
Until it’s completely empty and you will not have any willpower left to do the hard stuff and this will cause you to procrastinate.
That’s why scheduling and deciding what you’re going to do before you’re going to do it, will help you procrastinate less. Your cup of water will be a little bit fuller.
If you’ve also got decision making right then the first voice wins by:
- 3 – 0 points!
And than ”the good” voice will help you to fight your procrastination!
If you’re serious about procrastinating less and building up your willpower, you should really analyze your own behaviors and see if you can improve on one of the above.
There might be still plenty of other reasons why we procrastinate, but whenever I procrastinate myself, I look at those 3 areas and see if I lack in any of those, and if I do I try to improve on them and get back to work.
Don’t believe that there is a magic pill or a quick fix on beating procrastination. You will never beat procrastination a hundred percent, but with small increments of improvements every day, you might become more productive then you would have ever thought you could become.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me, I try to reply to all my emails and comments as soon as I can, I love to help you!
See you next time.
Reasons for procrastination