I admit it, I’m prone to procrastination so with a little soul searching I came up with seven reasons why I procrastinate. If you’re a procrastinator like me, don’t be ashamed. Approximately 88% of the workforce procrastinates on average an hour a day. That’s a lot of lost productivity. So as you read through my reasons maybe you’ll recognize yourself and learn how to nip your procrastination in the bud.
1. The Little Kid in Me Calls the Shots
One of the first reasons I procrastinate is that I allow the little kid in me to call the shots. Let’s be honest, there are some chores that have to be done, whether in business or your personal life, that are just plain not fun. Not only are they not fun, but they could also be downright tedious and boring (like doing the laundry). Or they might be disgusting, like cleaning the kitty litter. Or they could make you feel vulnerable, like writing an article on why you procrastinate. (haha) I had to throw that one in.
So procrastination occurs when I allow myself to get distracted with doing something that I’ve convinced myself is really ok doing instead – like watching a motivational video on productivity. Did you catch the irony? 🙂 But hey, there is a little kid in all of us and sometimes we hear or see “squirrel” and off we go. Before you know it three hours have passed.
2. My Ego Interferes
I let my ego get the best of me. Like most people, I hate making mistakes. I’m not a big fan of failure either and even though I’ve heard it over and over again, “We learn more from our mistakes and failures than from our successes.” So when my ego decides it doesn’t want to have even the remotest chance of experiencing failure or judgment or humiliation, I’ll tend to turn to procrastination to rescue me from those uncomfortable emotions. After all, you can’t fail at something unless you try. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that failing to try isn’t a failure. Funny how our convoluted ego works.
3. Little Miss Perfect
The third reason why I procrastinate is that I become “little miss perfect.” I try not to let this one get me but I do have a tendency to be a perfectionist so I have to work on this one. I can even get that way on simple things like washing my car. No one sees the dirt I missed except for me but that doesn’t matter. I know that once I start a job I can get super anal about it and then it takes me longer than it should. Knowing this about myself means I’ll procrastinate on certain chores or projects just so I don’t start down the perfectionistic rabbit hole.
4. The Passive-Aggressive Tactic
I’ve figured out that if I have a deadline I’m trying to meet, then that gives me the perfect excuse for not doing some mundane chore around the house. I don’t think I do this on a conscious level but if I’m honest, I can see a pattern in my behavior. I know I’ve used this tactic to get out of emptying the dishwasher, shoveling snow, and walking the dogs, just to name a few. It’s called “upward delegation.” “Sorry honey, but I just don’t have time. I’ve got this meeting to get ready for. Can you be a sweetie and do it for me?” I think that is being rather passive-aggressive, right?
This one is pretty common and is what I call the avoidance tactic. I think most of us avoid certain jobs we don’t want to do and tend to procrastinate. But what are we exactly avoiding? If it’s a physical job, like mowing the lawn then you’re probably just avoiding the physical labor that is going to be required. But what about cleaning chores like straightening out file cabinets or a closet? For me, I procrastinate as a way to avoid having to make decisions. The mental energy that goes into cleaning out a closet or straightening up my files is taxing.
- Does this still fit?
- Might I need this in the future?
- Is this recyclable?
- Is this good enough to give away?
- Would my kids want this some day?
- Would I need this information in the future?
How much energy does it take to throw something in the garbage or recycle bin? Not much! But the mental energy required to make that decision and be responsible for it can be overwhelming. What messy area in your life have you avoided cleaning out?
6. Eleventh Hour Syndrome
One of my all-time “go to” reasons why I procrastinate is reason number six, which is actually pretty common. I’ve figured out that if I wait just the right amount of time, I can create a looming deadline for myself that gives me that extra motivation I need. I must get an adrenaline rush or something when I do this. I call it the “eleventh hour syndrome.” Merriam-Webster defines the eleventh hour as: the latest possible time before it is too late. Yep! That’s me to a tee. It’s amazing how expecting house guests can light a fire under me to clean the sheets and bathroom. Or a due date can get my creative writing juices flowing.
I’m guilty of this kind of procrastination way more than is probably good for me. I actually watch the clock, or in some cases it could be the calendar, and see how close I can get to finishing whatever the chore is with the least amount of time to spare. I swear I think it’s a game I’m playing with myself. Can you say April 15th?
7. Perfect Timing
And last, but not exactly least, (because it might happen more often than I think and I’m just aren’t aware of it), is the idea that there is something intuitive or you might even say spiritual going on. What does this procrastination look like? Well, it’s when I feel stuck or stymied, or unmotivated to take action or make a decision. This could be about just anything but I notice it most when it’s about something big in my life. It’s also when I tend to beat myself up and accuse myself of being lazy or scared or wishy-washy, none of which I want to be guilty of being. But as I look back over a handful of times in my life, it was almost as if God was holding me back whispering “Nope, not yet.”
You see, timing in life is super important and sometimes we don’t have all the right information, or maybe we haven’t met the right people for what God has in store for us. In other words, sometimes we have to wait and delay our actions for the perfect timing to show up. There was an order that needed to take place and intuitively we sense that, and hence, it looks like procrastination when it’s really a part of us that knows we need to just relax, wait, do nothing and be patient.
So that’s my list. Luckily I’ve learned to catch myself when I fall into one of these procrastinating behaviors and not let it get the best of me. But there are a couple of areas in my life where I’m still more prone to putting things off and I’m working on those. Did you see yourself in any of these excuses for procrastination?
Next time you find yourself procrastinating see if you can figure out why. What’s causing you to delay or avoid tackling some tasks? Once you discover what makes you tick it’s actually pretty enlightening and the end result is that we become way more productive.