What You May Not Know About Procrastination

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

While everyone puts off some types of tasks once in a while, certain people are also known as “habitual procrastinators,” who comprise 20-25% of the population, do so chronically and on almost all the tasks that they are responsible for. They may have a long shopping list hanging on your refrigerator for almost a week, but every time they find an excuse to avoid going to the market. They may have an assignment that is due in a day or two but being hopeless optimists they believe that they can easily do it in the last few hours. They may have had a box full of books waiting to be opened and settled on the shelf for ages. They may start studying for your exams a day before the exam. If you relate to this description, you may find value in reading the entire article.

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday ― Don Marquis.

Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off acting on something till the last minute despite knowing its negative consequences. Procrastination makes waiting till the end of delaying doing a task till the final movement a recurring event which people find hard to fight. In simple words, it refers to avoiding doing what we know we must be doing.

It is when people are fully aware of the need to perform an action and are also willing to do it but fail to take necessary action in the given time frame. Procrastination may be negatively correlated to “Conscientiousness”, a trait that has sub-facets like orderliness, responsibility, willfulness, achievement orientation etc. Procrastination may also be positively correlated with “Neuroticism”, a trait that includes aspects such as moodiness, self-consciousness, proclivity to negative emotional states etc. 

As per biopsychology of Yoga, weak solar plexus chakra (3rd chakra, Manipura Chakra), weak root chakra (1st chakra, Muladhara chakra), and to some extent an imbalanced Sacral chakra (2nd chakra, Svadishthana Chakra) are responsible for procrastination. In this case, lack of self-esteem results in self-doubt, indecisiveness, and low willfulness.

A person may hence feel unhinged, ungrounded or drained and may try to compensate by over-indulging in stimulatory or pleasure-seeking activities such as day-dreaming, watching content, binge-eating etc. As per Ayurveda, people having a predominance of Kapha dosha have a greater tendency of procrastination and constitutional factors may have a role to play in predisposing someone to this tendency.

Depending on a person’s personality and thus reasons sought for not doing a certain work, there can be mainly 6 types of procrastinators.

Types of Procrastinators

1. Behaviour Procrastinators

It is a form of procrastination where people, due to behavioural compulsions, tend to avoid actions and shift the blame on others or even circumstances. Such people tend to reflect that in case they fail to achieve a certain thing or goal, it was not because of the lack of ability but the lack of effort they had put in. The implication is that they could do it if they wished to but because of procrastination or lack of effort (for any reason), they lost the chance. For example, in cases where a student blames the lack of effort for his failure in exams.

If such behavioural procrastination becomes a part of a person, it can easily result in a cycle of self-defeating behaviour, thus impacting every aspect of one’s life. This gradually develops into a negative perception of oneself which in the long run creates stress and self-loathing.

2. The Perfectionists

Seeking perfection is a good thing as it helps you achieve the best of everything you attempt to do, but on the other hand, obsessing about getting every little detail perfect not just creates hindrances in the completion of a task but also impacts your overall behaviour and stress levels. Getting everything perfect means-testing many possible options in the process. Sometimes people find it difficult to complete their tasks as they cannot find the perfect option out of many. This is also known as optional paralysis. It creates a constant delaying of work and thus procrastination.

3. Optimistic Procrastinators

There are times when people tend to fall for high optimism that beats off the stress of starting getting a job as soon as possible. Most of the time such people find the job or assignment at hand too easy and feel that they can easily complete it in one go, thus eliminating any need for starting the task any sooner or to even worry about it. Especially when the deadline for the project is way off it becomes an excuse for such people to not act and keep the task on the forever ‘to-do list.

4. The Dreamers

You might have seen many people making elaborate plans for successful ventures (in life or for a specific task) but when it comes to actually implementing the plans and dreams, they may not fare so well. Daydreaming is like a double-edged sword which can turn out your way if you actually implement it but it can also be a way of merely wasting precious time if one does not act upon the plans dreamt of.

5. Worried Procrastinators

You might have often heard people saying that ‘one must work more and worry less’, but for this category of people, the opposite is true. Despite being capable of completing a task, such people are unable to act because they worry about everything from the beginning to the end. In fact, they worry so much that that is all they do. Such people lack self-confidence and more or less completely fail to commit. They are very much dependent on other people to push them or get their work done.

Why Do People Procrastinate?

There are a number of subconscious patterns and reasons that make people procrastinate like

1. Burnout

When stress is not managed successfully it leads to burnout, in fact sometimes when it goes on for a long time unchecked it becomes chronic. Burnouts leave no motivation for a person and without motivation, it becomes difficult to carry out even the normal activities of life, let alone complete a task. A person is left with no energy and procrastination is the body’s way of communicating that one must delay a task and get some rest. People with chronically low blood pressure, brain fog (insulin resistance), adrenal fatigue, and low muscle tone may feel as if they lack the energy to do certain tasks. Procrastination here stems from a physiological deficit and not just a mental block.

2. Perfectionism

It is good to be a perfectionist, no doubt, but sometimes perfectionism acts as a double-edged sword. Perfectionism may help you to reach close to the best but at the same time it may create dissatisfaction and this dissatisfaction with the quality and the wish to reach the best prevents people from actually reaching the completion of the work. 

3. Indecision

When you take up a project or some work, to do your best you would need to understand ‘why’ and ‘what’ about it. Unless you are fully convinced as to why you are undertaking a particular task, be it at the office or in your personal life, you may not be able to completely commit yourself to it. Lack of clarity could be because of self-doubt or because of brain fog and could often lead to procrastination.

4. Fearing failure

Sometimes people with the fear of failure tend to avoid taking up a certain task. It seems to be like a coping mechanism wherein people do not attempt to do things just in the fear of failure or losing their confidence which might happen after that.

5. Fearing Change

Sometimes we may fear change or success resulting from our actions and may avoid taking the step towards happiness because we are afraid of the hidden consequences like losing friends, relationships, inviting jealousy, lack of control over schedule and time due to being busy etc.

6. Trauma

This leads to selective procrastination of certain activities in which a person was excessively judged or criticised in one’s childhood. For instance, if one was excessively criticised for their art by their art teacher or parents, they are likely to procrastinate creating art more than other tasks.

7. Distractions

Distractions tend to violate a person’s focus on any task. Distractions can be anything including people, social media, external happenings, etc. Once distracted a person finds it difficult to focus and thus one starts procrastinating. Sometimes, our hedonistic tendencies may prevent us from getting the work done.

8. Lack of Purpose

When one is unable to see the benefits that will come from the accomplishment of the task or the bigger picture it becomes very difficult to keep oneself motivated and this becomes another reason to procrastinate.

9. Adrenaline Rush

The last-minute adrenaline rush is another thing for people to procrastinate. Such are the people who tend to live on the edge. The last-minute excitement gives them a kind of pleasure that makes them wait till the last moment to accomplish their task.

10. Low self-esteem

To have conviction and motivation for what you are doing or want to do it is pertinent that you believe in yourself. You must know that you are capable of doing it as well as well deserving of the success that will come from it. Be it ‘personal relation goals’ or ‘career goals’, one must have faith in one’s capabilities. This is why when a person is low in self-esteem, he/she tends to keep delaying even attempting at achieving something or procrastinating. When you believe you cannot do something you will never be able to do it.

11. Self-sabotage

Another reason behind procrastination is one’s tendency to self-sabotage. Sometimes procrastination and self-sabotage act as the two sides of the same coin, constantly interchanging positions as cause and effect. Sometimes people who procrastinate end up self-sabotaging and other times people who self-sabotage tend to procrastinate a lot to achieve hindering one’s own success. Unresolved guilt may be the root of self-sabotage.

12. Clinical mental health issues such as Depression, ADHD

When a person is depressed there seems no motivation to do anything let alone the completing of a task or strive for success. Depression pushes people towards hopelessness and self-doubts which results in complete inaction. Many adults suffer from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When a person is distracted not just by the outside events but also because of internal turmoil, he finds it difficult to focus on anything and lack of focus acts as an inability to get anything done.

13. Habit

As kids, in academics, we all tend to be lazy be it in doing our Homework or assignments or even studying for tests. Many people outgrow this habit of procrastination but for many, this remains a reality throughout their lives. Delaying acting to achieve something becomes a habit and thus impacts one’s whole personality and life.

How to avoid Procrastination?

Procrastination occurs in stages wherein the nascent stage one faces delaying and laziness as just a basic habit. Gradually, as the time passes, it becomes stronger as a personality trait, seemingly harder to fight. If it is dealt with well at the very beginning it can be warded off but if it is not then it becomes a psychological problem. Once a person reaches this stage, he may start procrastinating everything without having a conscious knowledge of it. Once it becomes a trait it impacts one’s life negatively. Thus, it becomes pertinent to phase it out the very moment it becomes a part of your habit.

1. Understand why you procrastinate

The very first step to fight procrastination is to acknowledge its presence. You must first acknowledge the fact that you procrastinate and that has been affecting the quality of your life as well as your happiness. This helps oneself in being ready to take the next step and that is fighting the tendency of procrastination.

2. Make a list

Every time you clear an obstacle and reach an accomplishment mark a big smiley in front of it. This is a very effective way of motivating yourself to reach the next step more quickly. Intensify the visualization of the benefits that you will get by completing the task.

3. Mind and body hacks

There can be varying mind and body hacks for preventing or fighting procrastination such as the 1-minute rule of just starting and devoting one minute to a task, setting up a monetary penalty each time you procrastinate etc. Body Hacks include increasing energy in the body by working on the glutes and the back muscles, grounding, and spending time in the sun as per Yogic and Ayurvedic principles.

4. Create a routine

Once you set your life in a routine it is easier to get things done because in that case, your life is already in the momentum of actions wherein you can fit in your goals.

5. Visualize your success

If you feel that procrastination has been holding you back from achieving the best in the world then you can start by first imagining how it would feel to have succeeded in the task at hand. How happy and satisfied that will make you feel. Sometimes the key is to find the motivation to act and imagining the success and excitement from the completion of the task can help you find the needed inspiration to act. 

6. Maintain your pace

Once you find the needed motivation the next step is to maintain the rhythm and remove the inertia. Try not to be too hard on yourself. You have already overcome the major hurdle of starting now you just need to maintain your pace and this would initially require not jumping directly on a schedule that you may not be able to maintain. Dedicate yourself to the task for shorter intervals but stay consistent.

Positive Affirmations like “I am worthy”, and “I am powerful” can improve self-esteem, reduce indecisiveness, and enhance willpower.

8. Mindfulness

Practising mindfulness is a very potent way of staying in the moment which will reduce overthinking and daydreaming and help one get more work done.

9. Delaying gratification

Setting oneself up for small rewards every time one delays gratification and accomplishes a task can aid one in getting one’s tasks done.

10. “Just do it”

Often it just gets down to doing the task without overthinking and making all these excuses that you give yourself for not doing a task. Rather focus on the excuses for completing it. Once you start achieving your goals the happiness that you will get out of every achievement will act as a motivation for the next task.

Last Words

There may come a time when procrastination acts completely disables a person from living a fuller life, if not remedied at the beginning itself. But once you acknowledge it and are determined to fight back you can easily ward off the impacts of procrastination. The key here is to know yourself and why you do what you do. 


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