4 Reasons You Procrastinate and How to Break the Cycle

4 Reasons You Procrastinate and How to Break the Cycle

It’s the night before I have to submit an article. I’m typing away as fast as I can in my “hunt and peck” finger style just to hit the deadline.

Or it’s the night before that report is due. The one I’ve known about for, at least, two weeks. And, again, here I am, working my fingers to the bone, exhausted because I’ve stayed up far too long.

Why do I do this to myself?  When I put things off, I know I never do my best work. And while I may appease my client by getting the work in on time (at the last minute), it’s doing nothing for my confidence… or my health.

There are (usually) four simple reasons why people procrastinate on getting the work done – and sometimes I qualify for all four:

  1. The task is difficult and requires a lot of work or energy to complete.  I’m too tired and it’ll take me far more energy than I have to put into it right now. I want to do my best… so if I want to do my best, then I need to put the task off until I have more energy to do the work.
  2. The task is time-consuming, and it may take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to complete.  I have other things to do that I’d rather spend my time on right now, so I set the task aside for a couple of days. Just a couple…
  3. The task requires skills we don’t have, or we don’t know how to perform the task.  So that means not only is the task difficult and will be time-consuming, but I’m also going to have to develop new skills to get the work done as well. Yeah, let me jump right on that…NOT.
  4. Some aspect of the task scares us.  Maybe I’m afraid of the work the task involves (like that new skill I need to learn). Or I’m afraid I won’t complete the task as well as it needs to be completed. Or I might even be afraid it won’t be perfect straightaway – which means more work to get it right.

You see where all this leads.

If you think about it, each of the outcomes for those 4 reasons we procrastinate stems from a singular emotion: a lack of confidence. If everyone felt very confident they could do the work well, in a reasonable amount of time and to satisfaction… well, there’d be a lot less procrastination happening in the world.

So, one could say that a lack of confidence causes people to procrastinate – and that means that if we all stopped procrastinating and completed the tasks we’d originally set aside, we’d all increase our confidence.

Instead, we procrastinate… and feed our lack of self-confidence to higher heights. We create situations where we can’t do our best work, which in turn causes us to think ill of the result, which perpetuates the problem.

Our lack of confidence is completely justified: we put ourselves in situations where we do crap work and then feel bad about it.

It’s a vicious cycle – and it’s a cycle that needs to be broken.

So I’m making a commitment: I’m going to stop putting work off – even if I’m not feeling like doing the task, even if I think I can’t do my best work, even if I have to learn something new, and even if I’m scared I won’t get it right.

It’s the only way I’ll start realizing I can do more than I believe I can – and it’s the only way I’ll start fostering healthy self-confidence that lets me achieve more every day.

Will you join me?

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Post by Kari

Kari is a full-time content manager, editor and in-house blogger at Men With Pens. In her spare time, she writes fiction and is working on her first novel.