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We all have this problem. We want to finish a job, we have to do something, but we just cannot get around. We might get distracted very easily, or just look for an excuse not to do our work. But why do we procrastinate? Let’s take a look!

The Reward

A lot of times procrastination is rewarding. You know the situation, a tough decision has to be made, and you are the one who has to make it. But you don’t know what to do. You wait and you wait, claiming you need more time or some other lame excuse, until it is too late to make a decision, the decision has been made for you, or the situation has totally changed, allowing an easier decision to be made.

Resentment

Sometimes procrastination is the only possible way of showing resentment or disagreement. One might be forced to comply with a boss, or have to do some “stupid” homework for a professor. Open “rebellion” or disagreement might not be possible (or you just don’t have the balls…). So we resort to procrastination! Everybody has experienced this type of procrastination, like when preparing for an exams that seemed not to be of value.

Fear of Failure

We are our own worst critic. Usually, we expect way more of ourselves than we do of others and than others do of us. Sometimes we don’t want to disappoint others around us. Whatever it is, we are scared of failing. This fear leads to procrastination, sometimes in the hope that the situation will disappear by itself, and sometimes it is so crippling that it leads to the cancellation of the whole job/project.

Fear of Success

Ironically enough, people fear success as much as they fear failure. Success means that people will be expecting this kind of performance more often and will judge you by this success. It means higher and higher expectations. Many people are scared of that, so they sabotage their success by procrastinating. Other times success puts you into a new environment (like a promotion), and now you are the underdog, the newcomer, you have to prove yourself once more.

The Mountain

The first moments of tackling what seems to be a big project or a huge task are very scary. The job looks like a mountain, impossible to pass. Sometimes just thinking about the amount of work that has to be done makes people dizzy! So again we procrastinate, because we don’t know what to do and we feel overwhelmed. We don’t realize that as long as we keep starting, as long as we keep taking small baby steps, things will eventually come to a finish, and once monumental tasks will seem like baby games.

More Info

I have experienced all the aforementioned reasons for procrastination. But on my quest to lead a more productive and stress-free life I wasn’t alone. The market is basically overflooding with self-help literature of self-proclaimed experts (who most of the time are not experts at all), so it is very hard to find books that actually have some essence. Fortunately, not all this self-help stuff is voodoo-boggus! Neil Fiore, Ph.D. has identified many hidden reasons why people procrastinate and gives valuable tips on how to avoid procrastination and overpower the urge, in his book The Now Habit. Contrary to most ot the literature out there, he does not give stupid and superficial tips (“Make a list and prioritize”…duh, I know that, if it worked I’d be doing it, right?), he goes to the root of the problem. Check it out, it’s well worth a read!

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