What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the habitual act of delay or avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is common to hear someone say, “I’ll do it ‘later’” or “I’ll do that ‘tomorrow’.” This voice prevents you from following through on what you set out to do at a given time is procrastination. This often leads to cramming continuously for a stressful amount of time, biting the deadline at the very last minute.
Procrastination vs. Laziness
Procrastination and laziness are both vices- enemies of progress, to be precise, but they are completely different. Procrastination is an active process – you decide to do something else that is easier or more enjoyable and postpone the important tasks. On the other hand, laziness is inactivity and unwillingness to perform a given task.
If you procrastinate for a long time, you become demotivated, hence reduced productivity and loss of work. Therefore, procrastination leads to laziness.
The Psychology Behind Procrastination
According to M. Farouk Radwan, a renowned psychologist, “People procrastinate because they think the task is boring or difficult or they have ample time later.” Sometimes, people get overwhelmed by their perception of how many tasks they must complete, which then paralyzes them and prevents them from attending to any of their commitments or responsibilities.
9 Main Reasons Why People Procrastinate
Why do you procrastinate? What is this force that drives you to avoid things you know you ought to do? Well, we as human beings are different and thus we have various diverse reasons why we keep procrastinating. Below are 9 main reasons why you keep saying “I’ll do it later.”
1. You are Afraid of Failure
One of the most common causes of procrastination is lack of confidence in self and fear that you may not be competent enough to complete the task at hand. With this mindset the chances of failure are high. The thought of the consequences of failure makes many people seek solace and comfort under the umbrella of procrastination.
2. You are a Perfectionist
If you are a person who is constantly seeking perfection, then you might find it difficult to do certain tasks unless you are completely confident that you will achieve your desired outcome. The overly demanding standard for perfectionism keeps you from getting started in the first place.
3.You Lack Focus
You probably lack focus in life if you frequently feel like you have no direction. You feel as if you are aimlessly sailing in this journey of life and thus you don’t have any reason to start or complete anything. This lack of focus causes procrastination by preventing you from being productive and instead you end up spending your energy and wasting your potential on less productive tasks. When you lack focus, you are easily distracted.
4. You Lack Motivation
Most people say, “I don’t feel like doing it,” merely because nobody is motivating them, nobody believes in them, nobody is there to keep reminding them that they can do it! Most procrastinators think that something is wrong with them if they do not feel motivated to start doing a task. More often than not, starting a task even if you have no desire to do so, is the most difficult step in getting things done. Most people overthink and have a lot of resistance with getting started in the first place. But once you start, you realize it’s not as difficult as you precieved it to be and it becomes a great motivator for further action.
5. You Lack Skills
A deficit in skills is one of the basic reasons for procrastination. If you do not have the skills required to get a task done, it is only natural to avoid doing them.
6. You Lack Interest
Lack of interest plays a central role in procrastination. People tend to postpone what is not of interest to them and focus more on what fascinates them. A student who majors in literature for instance will keep postponing any science related assignment simply because that is not his or her area of interest. Here, you end up delaying one task, the science assignment, in favor of working on another, the literature assignment.
7. You Are Poor at Time Management
Most procrastinators are very poor time managers, they have the habit of waiting until the last minute in order to start a task. Most of them believe that they work best under pressure and thus keep procrastinating with the hope of finishing it at the last minute when the pressure is high. You also tend to underestimate how long it will take you to finish the task at hand.
8. You Have a Negative and Biased Attitude
You believe that you learned procrastination from role models. You believe that since your friends, parents, siblings and other important models procrastinated you can also do the same. You may also be biased in that you think, “I can do this, but not that.”
9. You Have Low Energy Levels
A frequent reason why people practice procrastination is that they are experiencing low energy levels. You will definitely not be in a position to get work done when you are lacking energy. This may be due to our unhealthy lifestyles, insufficient sleep, poor eating habits and lack of exercise which make us always feel sluggish and tired.
21 Shortcuts to Stop Procrastination Now
How do you stop procrastination? Changing your habits is tough when you are a chronic procrastinator settled into your ways. Luckily, habits are breakable. All you need is a plan of action and the desire to get your life going in a better direction.
The first step to fighting procrastination is figuring out what your biggest weak points are. Here are a few ways that you can battle procrastination and get things done now.
1. Get in the Mood
Realizing that you have a bad habit can ruin your mood, making it even harder to get back to work. While focusing on the reasons you don’t want to procrastinate is sometimes a good motivator, it can also backfire if you are emotionally sensitive. If there’s an activity you love, such as writing or exercising, doing it before you start work will help you feel motivated and optimistic. Use these positive feelings to fuel your productivity and set the tone for the rest of your day. If your tasks aren’t getting done fast enough, consider taking short breaks throughout your day to improve your attitude. Your renewed productivity might surprise you.
2. Destroy Your Distractions
Distractions lead to procrastination, and if you give in to them often enough they will turn into bad habits. In order to stop procrastination, you need to change your bad habits and you have to know what they are. Begin by reminding yourself why you want to stop procrastinating and create milestones that you can meet in order to measure your success.
Next, you must list the distractions that are keeping you from meeting your goals and brainstorm ways to AVOID them. Starting your work earlier, changing your sleep schedule, or working in a different area can all be great strategies. Just remember that if one idea doesn’t work, you can always try another one or take a smaller step. For example, instead of avoiding a hobby completely, you can cut down on how much time you spend on it each day until you find the right balance.
3. Get Motivated
Procrastination is easy when you don’t feel like working. Even though it is normal for your desires to shift, you can learn how to motivate yourself instantly. The key is focusing on your objectives and remembering your accomplishments. If you can’t find them, ask yourself, “What will happen and how will I feel if I complete this goal?” Next ask yourself, “What will happen and how will I feel if I don’t complete this goal?” The answer to each question will assist you in deciding the importance of the task at hand.
4. Reward Yourself
Many of us try to overcome our procrastination but stop because we don’t have enough energy to continue. While there are many reasons as to why we give up, most of us do so because we feel hopeless; no one likes realizing that they are wasting their time and energy. Giving yourself small rewards when you reach easy milestones can help you stay on schedule until you meet your long-term goals.
5. Think About the Consequences of Procrastination
What are the consequences if you don’t complete the task at hand? Some of the consequences are increased stress, guilt, and anxiety which can lead to self-criticism and lower self-confidence. If the task needs to be completed whether you do it today or tomorrow, think about the consequences of delaying your work. It has to be done anyway, so you might as well start now. Do you want this task that needs to be completed constantly in the back of your mind, inducing stress levels? Think of the relief you will feel once the task is complete. Then you can truly enjoy doing the things you would rather do.
6. Forgive Yourself for Past Procrastination
Self-forgiveness can help you be more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future; feelings of self-blame and guilt because of past effects of procrastination don’t help. Instead of telling yourself, “I should have…” say to yourself “Next time I will…” Make each failure a learning experience instead of a regret. Practice self-compassion and nurture growth instead of guilt.
7. Equip Yourself with More Skills
Lack of skills should never be a reason why you procrastinate. Get a tutor, ask questions, and be observant all the time in order to learn as many skills as possible.
8. Set Achievable Goals
Break down your goals into smaller achievable and realistic goals. This will help you to stop procrastinating when tasks start to seem too broad and unrealistic. Every time you complete small achievable goals, it creates reward centers in the brain which can increase your motivation.
9. Be Consistent
Avoid the temptation to wait until the last minute in order to start working. Set a routine and block out specific times during the day to focus on work and block out specific times in the day to doing whatever you want. Don’t browse the internet during the specified 2-hour block that you committed to work, and don’t work during your specified block time to relaxing and doing the things you enjoy. Stick to your schedule and be consistent.
10. Just Get Started
Say no to that voice that keeps telling you that you can’t say yes to the voice that says I can. A lot can be accomplished by simply pressing the start button.
11. Change your Mindset
Avoid a negative mindset and adopt the positive one that believes everything is possible. Negative thoughts breed more negative thoughts and may cause you to overthink and spiral out of control inducing stress and anxiety. Likewise, positive thoughts breed more positive thoughts. Try to be positive.
12. Seek Help
Set goals and give them to someone to check on you from time to time and ensure that you are working on them. Get an accountability buddy to help keep each other accountable. You can also get a life-coach or join a self-help group. Find the root cause to why you may be an under-achiever.
13. Act As You Go
Tackle all tasks as soon as they arise, rather than being biased and doing only what is pleasant and letting the unpleasant ones pile up.
14. Keep a To-Do List
This will help you to schedule all your activities and enable you to manage your time more effectively.
15. Quit Trying to Be Perfect
Accept the fact that perfectionism is not always achieved; after all, what counts most is the quality of effort and not the quality of results.
16. Imagine Completing the Task
Imagine the freedom from anxiety, from nagging pressures, from self-doubt, and the relief that comes with accomplishing a task you have been avoiding; this will boost your confidence and energy.
17. Spend Time with People Who Inspire You
The people we surround ourselves with influences our behavior. Therefore, identify people, friends, or colleagues who are go-getters and hard workers and keep them close. Soon you will adopt their drive and spirit.
18. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
By eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising, taking enough water, and avoiding stress, you are bound to have the energy and good mood needed to do work.
19. Stop Over-Complicating Things
Make tasks simple by finding ways to make them interesting and fun to do, instead of focusing on all the difficult aspects of the task that you don’t like.
20. Choose Role Models Wisely
Pick out a few individuals in society who have managed to overcome procrastination and let what they have achieved motivate you.
21. Start Early
Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need, which will lead to better time-management habits. The extra time left over might compensate for any deficiencies in time estimation.
10 TED Talks on Procrastination
1. Inside the Master Mind of a Master Procrastinator
2. An End to Procrastination
3. Self Worth Theory: The Key to Understanding & Overcoming Procrastination
4. The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers
5. Why We Procrastinate
6. A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit
7. After Watching This, Your Brain Will Not Be the Same
8. Trust the Procrastinator
9. How to Multiply Your Time
10. How to Multiply Your Time
1. “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” -Alexander Graham Bell
2. “The road to success is always under construction.” – Lily Tomlin
3. “If people did not do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
4. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
5. “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson
6. “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
7. “Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.” – Denis Waitley
8. “Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki
9. “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.” – David Bly
10. “Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.” – Wilfred Peterson
11. “Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” – Vaibhav Shah
12. “For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his/her happiness on major events like a great job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.” – Andy Rooney
13. “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in, and day-out.” – Robert Collier
14. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
15. “The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra
16. “Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
17. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
18. “Success comes in cans; failure in cants.” – Unknown
19. “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill
20. “Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.” – Milton Erickson
21. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
22. “If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.” – Albert Einstein
23. “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” – Abraham Lincoln
24. “If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
25. “The best way to succeed in this world is to act on the advice you give to others.” – Unknown
26. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
27. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
28. “We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret.” – Earl Nightingale
29. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure … but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan
30. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb
31. “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children… to leave the world a better place… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
32. “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.” – Zig Ziglar
33. “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” – Richard Branson
34. “Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.” – Arnold H. Glasgow
35. “Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat.” – Malcolm S. Forbes
36. “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso
37. “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis
38. “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is: Try to please everybody.” – Herbert B. Swope
39. “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” – George Lorimer
40. “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
41. “If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” – Olin Miller
42. “The successful man is the one who finds out what is the matter with his business before his competitors do.” – Roy L. Smith
43. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
44. “Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” – Orison Swett Marden
45. “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” – George Bernard Shaw
46. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” – Florence Nightingale
47. “Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.” – Vincent Van Gogh
48. “Follow effective actions with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – Peter Drucker
49. “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein
50. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King
51. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln
52. “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John R. Wooden
53. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
54. “Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.” – Erich Fromm
55. “Spend eighty percent of your time focusing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than the problems of yesterday.” – Brian Tracy
56. “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” – Abraham Maslow
57. “Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” – Charles F. Kettering
58. “The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” – Bruce Feirstein
59. “Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” – George Sheehan
60. “Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” – Mae Jemison
61. “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced.” – Swami Vivekananda
62. “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” – Benjamin Disraeli
63. “There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.” – Ray Goforth
64. “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Napoleon Hill
65. “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” – Clay P. Bedford
66. “After every difficulty, ask yourself two questions: “What did I do right?” and “What would I do differently?” – Brian Tracy
67. “Don’t brood. Get on with living and loving. You don’t have forever.” – Leo Buscaglia
68. “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” – Oprah Winfrey
69. “Life’s real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you quit.” – Rhett Power
70. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
71. “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” – Wayne Dyer
72. “The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” – Mark Caine
73. “In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
74. “Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyze your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.” – Leo F. Buscaglia
75. “For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” – Harry F. Banks
76. “Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost legendary. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge
77. “Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” – Dalai Lama
78. “Your work is discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” – Buddha
79. “People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” – Tony Robbins
80. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau
81. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
82. “Success is largely a matter of holding on after others have let go and given up.” – Rhett Power
83. “Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.” – David M. Burns
84. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
85. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton
86. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi
87. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain
88. “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” – George S. Patton
89. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
90. “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde
91. “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” – Mark Victor Hansen
92. “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar
93. “If you don’t value your time, neither will others. Stop giving away your time and talents. Value what you know and start charging for it.” – Kim Garst
94. “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee
95. “Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” – Anthony Robbins
96. “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker
97. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
98. “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” – Albert Einstein
99. “It is not what happens to you that matters, but what you do about it that makes the difference. – Rhett Power
100. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. – Booker T. Washington
101. What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. – Bob Dylan