Why You Continue to Procrastinate
Procrastination is something we have all done at some point in our lives. However, looking deeper into procrastination can help us find productivity.
One of my worst encounters with procrastination was when I was 15 years old. I remember being told countless times that my geography exam was coming up and had a tonne of time to prepare.
Even one week before the exam, my teachers were grilling me asking me why I had not done any work to prepare. Funny enough, it was not like I was busy or anything. It was one exam in the middle of the week that I had ages to prepare for.
It got to one day before the exam, and I still did not feel the urge to revise or prepare for it. One day became 12 hours, and 12 hours became 4. Then at 5 am, I got up to frantically cram all my preparation into 4 hours before the exam.
I remember panicking and breathing heavily throughout the whole time. I even woke up my little sister to help me revise short answer questions I should have known the answer to 3 weeks ago.
The immense adrenaline rush and sweating did not do much for my grade at all. I ended up getting quite a poor grade, and thank God I was allowed to resit.
Procrastinating is a good term to use because it lets you put all your wasted time into one word. If we were to list all the things we did in detail, I am sure we would be embarrassed by the things we were using our time for.
Although procrastination can make us feel guilty, it does serve some benefit to us. When we look closely at procrastination, we learn that it is trying to teach us something.
Getting rid of procrastinating all together is the key to happy productivity. A lot of the time, productive individuals are unhappy with their lives. They end up living a habitual life doing the same thing all the time. Yes, this is one way to solve procrastination, but we are not robots.
I think the ideal way to solve it is to find a solution that brings about both happiness and productivity. To do that, you must identify the source of your procrastination and act accordingly. Here are three sources I identified within myself when I used to do it.
Fear of Showing up for Yourself
I used to not start a task or commit to a plan because I felt like I would never achieve what I wanted. One thing I have found is that a lot of procrastinators have high standards for themselves.
Sometimes these high standards can put them off and deter them from doing a task. After all, if you feel as though you will never be able to do something, then why start in the first place.
My geography exam is a perfect example of a time I believed I was not good enough. I wanted to do well in the subject, but my past grades told me I was no good at it. That only led me to put off the task of preparing because I would hate to put in work and come out with a fail.
When people tell procrastinators to create a plan or follow a schedule, they assume procrastinators do not want to do that. I would argue that many of them do. Who doesn’t want an organised life that can make them productive and feel like they are adding to society?
The problem is the fear procrastinators have of not showing up for themselves. It is the fear of letting themselves down by messing up the schedule and not being productive for one day. Even worse, doing all of it and still being a failure.
If this is your source for procrastination, there is only one way to solve it. That is, to find something worth failing at. It is the only way to overcome this source.
Normally, when we believe something is worthwhile, we do not mind messing up a couple of times before we get it right. That may be art, writing or maths. Whatever you find valuable enough to put the effort in and still fail is the direction your procrastination is taking you in.
You must choose to find something that allows you to fail without making you feel like a failure. By finding this, you will have a pursuit that is worth your time and effort.
Eventually, your fear of showing up for yourself will no longer remain. You will find yourself being resilient enough to push through failures and improve. The tricky part is looking deep within yourself to find that thing that is worthwhile.
A Lack of Ambition and Drive
You may think that this source is the same as the one above, but it is slightly different. You will find that the source above is very much driven by how the person feels about their failures. This one is driven by the person’s motivation to complete something.
As someone who used to procrastinate, I am not going to sit here and tell you to try to find a deeper meaning. Also, I will not tell you that you should try changing the task to make it enjoyable.
All of these things require the person to feel somewhat motivated to complete the task in the first place. If you are procrastinating, I have to assume you do not want to do it at all.
To start with, I would argue that you should never do something you have a lack of ambition or drive to do unless it affects your moral character. Of course, morality means different things to different people. However, if not doing something affects the image of the person you wish to be in your head, then do it.
It is better to do something you do not like for a moment than to feel inadequate or regretful for a lifetime. For example, I performed well in my resit for geography because I wanted to be a lecturer in the future. Although I did not like geography, I felt like my attitude towards education should be better.
For tasks you have no ambition or drive for, firstly ask:
Does not completing this task affect the person I see myself to be?
If the answer is yes, then be resilient and do it. At least then you know you are doing it for yourself, not someone else. If the answer is no, do not complete it.
If it is for work, start thinking about moving job or role and speak up. Doing things you have no ambition or drive for will only lead to a life of unhappiness.
Finally, your environment could be the death of you. Not having the right people around you or the right resources to be productive can cause procrastination.
For example, before I had a monitor and wireless keyboard, I spent a lot of time scrolling on my phone. Also, when I used to live with my parents, my room was tiny, so I was only 1 inch away from my bed.
Although you procrastinate, you have not always procrastinated. There have been times where you have been productive outside of immediate deadlines or pressure.
Think back to those times and ask questions like:
- Who was I with?
- What equipment was I using to be productive?
- What task was I completing?
- What music was I listening to?
Asking questions like this can help you understand the environment you feel most comfortable working in. Then, use these answers to build an environment. You may not be able to get the environment perfect, but I am sure you can get close to it.
It may mean a job change or having a room in your house refurbished. Nevertheless, it is worth it for your happiness and productivity.
To conclude, I would like to sum up how overcoming each source leads to a productive and happy you.
Fear of Showing up for Yourself
Overcoming this leads to self-confidence in your ability to succeed at what you put your mind to. Eventually, that confidence will turn into self-identity and happiness. Not to mention, increase resilience and consistency which leads to productivity.
A Lack of Ambition and Drive
You will find yourself working on the tasks that motivate you. That leads to you feeling valued and gaining intrinsic worth. Being happy to complete a task also raises your desire to do well and complete it. So, both happiness and productivity are increased.
Creating an environment you enjoy will lead to comfort and security. Both of these attributes are key to happiness. Finally, being in an environment that promotes the best in you will only lead to better work.
I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.