Why You Procrastinate — And What You Can Do About It


Procrastination is emotional

We put something off when there is a negative mood about it. By putting it off, we (1) get some momentary relief and (2) increase negativity about the task. This makes us want to put it off more. So it becomes an “especially vicious” cycle. We momentarily feel better by putting off an unwanted task, and we learn to dislike the task more the more we put it off. 😑

This only compounds the negative associations we have with the task, and those feelings will still be there whenever we come back to it, along with increased stress and anxiety, feelings of low self-esteem and self-blame.

Procrastination is irrational

When we procrastinate, we’re not only aware that we’re avoiding the task in question, but also that doing so is probably a bad idea. And yet, we do it anyway.

With procrastination, we are overly focused on the present and tend to look at our futures self (who has to do the task) as a different person, and the thing we’re putting off as “somebody else’s problem”. 🤷🏻‍♂️😳

Dealing with procrastination

Aka “The Bigger Better Offer”. Make it easier and feel better to not procrastinate than to procrastinate.

Procrastination is about emotions, not productivity. The solution doesn’t involve downloading a time management app or learning new strategies for self-control. It has to do with managing our emotions in a new way.

Do it!

  • Consider only the next action
  • Make your temptations more inconvenient
  • Make the things we want to do as easy as possible
  • Forgive yourself for procrastinating. This can actually break the cycle!
  • Practice self-compassion. (Side note, this also “boosts motivation, enhances feelings of self-worth and fosters positive emotions like optimism, wisdom, curiosity and personal initiative.”)
  • Be curious about your own feelings on the procrastination

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