HR & Personal Development

Why you procrastinate

It’s extremely annoying yet perfectly normal. Everybody procrastinate from time to time. Even the most productive people. But how can some people remain so productive while you feel procrastination prevents you from doing your job? They are productive because they know the reasons behind their procrastination and they know how to handle it. And you can too.


According to Laura Garnett from the business magazine Inc. Magazine, procrastination and a general sense of being under pressure on and outside the job often comes down to three things:

  1. We focus on being drained of energy and we become irritated because we don’t feel that we’re efficient enough. Instead, we need to focus on what is draining our energy on the job.
  2. We focus too much on gaining the most from the hours in our lives. Instead we just need to focus on getting the most from the hours we spend on our jobs.
  3. We will get far more energy to enjoy our lives if our work creates energy.


So, we can actually do a lot about our work joy, our level of energy and our efficiency by working with your perspective.


Why you procrastinate

With perspective and by paying attention to the problem we are able to identify why we tend to procrastinate and then do something about it. Entrepreneur presents four common reasons:


  1. You feel overwhelmed. The number of tasks on your to-do list is so large that you tend to give up, especially when the tasks are big and complicated. You can’t manage them, so you postpone them again and again.


Solution: Divide your tasks into smaller parts. For instance, small parts of 15, 30 or 45 minute durations. Your to-do list will be far easier to manage!

Set realistic goals only and plan you day and your tasks. This way, you are able to focus and visualize the task ahead of you. It makes it easier to avoid failing concentration and procrastination.

Remove disturbing elements such as TV, e-mails, telephones, noise and talking.


  1. Bad timing. A lot of people procrastinate as a consequence of working against their body's natural rhythm which regulates the sleeping cycle. When we’re tired it’s tempting to postpone tasks to the next day.


Solution: Exploit your best moments. When are you most energized and ready to perform? Are you a morning person or are you most productive at the end of the day? Are evenings your most efficient moments? Place your most demanding tasks when it fits your body rhythm and level of energy the best.

For many people, it helps to jump right into the task without thinking. Perhaps you’re staring at an empty document without being able to write the first sentence. But if you just write something you’ll naturally enter a state of flow and at some point you’ll automatically begin the actual task while feeling your motivation return.

Remember, you can always edit a bad piece of text but you can't edit no text at all.


  1. You don’t like the task. Procrastination is often a result of you missing something. Perhaps you need information, a break or something to eat. Perhaps it’s because you simply don’t like the task or your job. Are you about to set up a meeting, make a customer call, do accountings or something else? We all have tasks that we just don’t like doing. The less we like the task the more we tend to postpone it.


Solution: Give yourself a reward. If you complete the unwanted call, the boring routine task or the much dreaded accountings then promise yourself a glass of wine in the evening, some candy and a nice movie or something else that’s concrete and will offer you enjoyment.

Focus on how nice it will be to complete the task. Visualize the result.


  1. You need a deadline or a sense of urgency. Lots of people feel that they perform their best under pressure or with a tangible deadline. If your task lacks this it may be difficult to begin because the process becomes too abstract. But your need for working in the eleventh hour can easily become self-fulfilling so that you always postpone things to the very last moment.


Solution: Make false deadlines. Tell yourself that your task needs to be completed Wednesday at noon even though the deadline isn't until Thursday morning. Tell yourself that 4 pm is actually 2 pm. You know that it isn’t true but it’s actually a surprisingly efficient reminder to yourself to respect time.

Another good reminder is to think about other moments where procrastination has seemed stressful, humiliating or even financially expensive. Remind yourself of the consequences and the feelings they produce.


Procrastination can help you reach your goal

Usually, the best approach is to dive right into a task and reward yourself when it’s complete. But according to this article from FastCompany, when it comes to tasks that require a high degree of thought and intellectual resources it’s actually necessary to take small breaks and procrastinate if you want to be efficient and also deliver your best.


Creative problem solving and the use of information from our memory requires a surplus of energy which is harvested from breaks and recreation. This is where we recharge so that our brains can perform once more. Problems are seen in a new light and information from our memory is allowed to step forward. After a healthy break you can work on your task with more energy and efficiency.


Also, your effort is weakened if you are in a bad mood which is often the reason that we feel the need to procrastinate in the first place.


But if your procrastination includes something that makes you happy (and this is something only you decide) a better mood can make you more creative and focused on problem solving. For instance, taking a walk can turn out to be a very productive.


Pessimism infects your work effort so if you lose motivation on a complicated task it’s a good idea to do something else and something positive for a while. The next time you lose motivation, stop and reward yourself with an act of procrastination before you continue the task.


If you still need inspiration on how to overcome procrastination and challenges concerning self-discipline, then check out this infographic from CashNetUSA that presents 14 tangible steps towards self-discipline.