Uncovering The Causes of Procrastination And Its Impact on Our Productivity
I watch the time tick slowly away as my inbox continues to flood with incoming emails and yet…I delay my tasks. I know you’re familiar with the same! Sometimes I just can’t muster up the energy to work on my tasks and some days, I just want to let the time get away while I do everything but work on my tasks.
It’s a behavior that many of us engage in almost every day. Yes, I’m talking about procrastination.
Procrastination is a typical behavior that plagues us all, regardless of age, background, profession, or career. It’s an act that can be described as delaying or postponing your tasks, often engaging in short-term distractions, overachieving and fulfilling your goals. While most people are guilty of procrastination, it can become a concern only when the habit turns chronic and begins to disrupt your professional life, productivity, and even your personal life.
In this article, we’re uncovering the most common causes of procrastination, the various types of procrastination we engage in, and how this habit can impact us negatively. So, let’s start!
Why Do People Procrastinate? The Causes of Procrastination
Some of the most common causes of procrastination could include;
1. A Fear of Failure:
One of the most common causes or reasons why people procrastinate can be the fear of failure. The anxiety and self-doubt that often comes with not being able to meet expectations set by others upon you or set by yourself for yourself can be paralyzing. This fear and anxiety can eventually lead you to delay your tasks as much as possible to avoid facing these emotions and their subsequent consequences.
2. A Lack of Motivation:
When the task you’re working on becomes tedious, uninteresting, and stops giving you rewarding results, then it may also cause you to procrastinate. You may not be able to find it in you to keep working on something that is no longer mentally stimulating or rewarding. This lack of inspiration and motivation can be a major driving factor in why you procrastinate.
3. Poor Time Management:
There have been times in my life when I figured that I had a lot of time to finish my tasks and that lulled me into a false sense of security when in fact, I miscalculated. This poor time management can also cause you to underestimate the time needed to complete a task, resulting in procrastination until the last minute.
Yes, you read it right! Perfectionism can cause procrastination too. When you have an overwhelming desire to complete a task flawlessly or perfectly, the task may become so daunting that you may find yourself putting off starting work on the task as much as you can.
This kind of procrastination is also common in OCD. OCD is associated with maladaptive perfectionism and this brings a fear about making mistakes and letting down expectations.
We’re constantly surrounded by distractions – music, entertainment, social media, and whatnot. These little distractions might not sound too much but in reality, they can also cause us to procrastinate. We become so caught up in the instant gratification we get from these distractions that we overlook the long-term gratification.
Depression can also be another reason for procrastination. When you’re depressed, you struggle with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and low energy. These symptoms can make it hard for you to start or complete a task. Eventually, depression can create feelings of resentment and self-doubt that can also make you feel insecure about the task you’re working on.
Mental health disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is another cause of procrastination! People with ADHD become easily distracted by other tasks and might leave their current task to pursue something else entirely, leaving their fate to procrastination. Please note that procrastination is not a disorder but can be a symptom of disorders such as OCD, ADHD, and depression.
The Types of Procrastination
The common type of procrastination you might find yourself engaging in can be;
- Classic Procrastination: When you intentionally delay your task despite knowing the consequences of your actions.
- Deadline-Driven Procrastination: When you become productive only when you’re under pressure to complete a task. You delay your tasks until the deadline looms over your head.
- Decision Procrastination: When your indecisiveness causes you to delay your tasks, causing missed opportunities.
- Avoidant Procrastination: When you procrastinate on your tasks that bring negative feelings and emotions such as fear, anxiety, and stress to the surface.
Other types (or terms) of procrastinators can include;
- The Perfectionist
- The Dreamer
- The Worrier
- The Crisis Worker
- The Overdoer
Negative Impacts of Procrastination
We all procrastinate; there’s nothing new or harmful about delaying or postponing your tasks once in a while. Procrastination only becomes a problem when it becomes a chronic habit and begins to disrupt your schedule, productivity, performance, and professional capabilities. Some of the most common negative effects of procrastination can include reduced productivity, more stress, impaired performance, and more.
When you continue to delay your tasks, it can reduce your productivity. The longer you delay your tasks, the more room there is for stress to build, creating a cycle that keeps you trapped in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety.
Not only that but procrastination can also lead to missed opportunities and can even ruin your reputation. This habit also leads to feelings of guilt, self-criticism, self-doubt, a sense of failure, increased insecurities, and more, all contributing to depression and anxiety.
Tips on Overcoming Procrastination
Here are some simple tips to help you overcome procrastination
- Break tasks down into smaller steps so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Set clear and realistic goals with deadlines so that a sense of urgency keeps you going until you’re done with your tasks.
- Work on your time management skills. Try to use calendars or to-do lists to prioritize your tasks. You can also use time management apps to allocate your time wisely.
- Identify the distractions in your life and minimize them as much as you can. Set a dedicated time to work on your tasks and allot some time for distractions. Balance your work, productivity, and social time accordingly.
- Most importantly, reward yourself after you complete a task. This habit will reinforce positive behavior and encourage you to keep working especially when you know there will be a reward in the end.
I hope this blog helped you understand what causes procrastination and how to overcome it. Let me know what you think about the article in the comments section below. Feel free to share your favorite tips to prevent procrastination with us too!