Why You Procrastinate
If you’ve ever put off an important task by, say, alphabetizing your spice drawer, you know it wouldn’t be fair to describe yourself as lazy.
After all, alphabetizing requires focus and effort — and maybe you plan even to went mile to wipe down each bottle before putting it back. This isn’t laziness or bad time management. This is procrastination.
IF PROCRASTINATION ISN’T ABOUT LAZINESS, THEN WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Etymologically, “PROCRASTINATION” is derived from the Latin verb PROCRASTINARE — to put off until tomorrow. But it’s more than just voluntarily delaying. Procrastination is also derived from the ancient Greek word AKRASIA — doing something against our better judgment.
Everyone procrastinates. We put things off because we don’t want to do them, or because we have too many other things on our plates. Putting things off—big or small—is part of being human.
You can tell whether or not you need to do something about your procrastination by examining its consequences. Procrastination can have external consequences (you get a zero on the paper because you never turned it in) or internal consequences (you feel anxious much of the time, even when you are doing something that you enjoy). If you put off washing the dishes, but the dishes don’t bother you, who cares? When your procrastination leaves you feeling discouraged and overburdened, however, it is time to take action.
THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROCRASTINATION
There are two types of procrastination, chronic and acute. Chronic procrastination has a deep, strong, and permanent psychological cause that may not be so easily eliminated. It can be done, but it takes patience and hard work.
On the other hand, acute procrastination can be caused even by small mood or energy swings throughout the day, or other small psychological triggers which aren’t a steady natural part of your psyche (like having a bad day, for example).
Thus, chronic and acute procrastination have to be dealt with in different ways.
Acute procrastination – you procrastinate from time to time, which is normal
Acute procrastination happens as an out-of-the-ordinary behavioral pattern.
It’s actually quite easy to recognize acute procrastination and distinguish it from the chronic version. When acute procrastination attacks you, you behave differently.
You may even ask yourself something like “Why am I acting so stupid?”. In a normal state, you’d just get the job done, but this time something is holding you back.
Even if you’re a super productive person, acute procrastination will strike you from time to time. There can be many reasons for this:
- Low levels of energy
- Being in an irritated emotional state
- Not taking a break after completing a long, demanding task
- You think someone else should do the task (if it was delegated to you)
- People you don’t like are involved in your work
- It’s a type of task you don’t like (boring, in other words)
- Other similar reasons
Acute procrastination is very different from the chronic version as there is often a deep and a complex psychological issue behind it.
How to find if you are in chronic procrastination? You’re in a state of chronic procrastination when you constantly procrastinate with certain types of tasks or, even worse, with all of them.
Here are the most frequent reasons for chronic procrastination:
- Lack of assertiveness, fear and self-sabotage
- Unreasonably high goals and expectations ( which you know deep down that you can’t meet)
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- A lack of skills or fake passion
- Perfectionism and other cognitive distortions
ACUTE VS CHRONIC PROCASTINATION
- Gently force yourself to make the first step
- Use timeboxing
- Don’t fight it, do other important things instead
Lack of assertiveness
- Learn to become a healthily-assertive person
- Disconnect failure from self-worth
- See yourself as a successful person
Temporary low levels of energy
- Take a walk
- Take a nap
- Wait for your daily peak-productivity time
- Come back to work when recharged
Big goals and high expectations
- Have big dreams, but start small
- Slice and dice
- Trust the process, the outcome will follow
- Focus on the small things you can do every day
Overworked or burnt-out
- Take a few days off
- Limit work in progress
- May be it is a time for your visit to psychologist
- Get enough sleep
- Eat green veggies
- Drink enough water
- Avoid addictions
Being in an irritated emotional state
- Take a walk or nap
- Accept it
- Talk to people
- Listen to music
- Come back to work when you calm down
A lack of skills or fake passion
- Be in the learning, rather than the panic or comfort, zone
- Slice and dice
- Have a big vision and a powerful Why
- Follow your effort, the passion will come after