Two main reasons we procrastinate…

I had been putting off writing this piece for two days. Procrastination is a very strange phenomenon. We know something must be done now, but we delay it. It can be a phone call to mom, an email to a customer, a report to the boss, getting up on time, making an important decision, ending a bad habit, starting a good one, saying some nice words, apologizing for a mistake, it can be small tasks or big projects… but we often delay it despite expecting to be worse off due to the delay. We know that procrastination can cost us money, health, relationships, productivity or social disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments… but we procrastinate. Procrastination is not always inaction. Very often, we get busy with less important or less urgent tasks to avoid the high-priority actions. Few reasons why we procrastinate, and some ideas on what to do about it:

  1. Lack of passion. Sometimes the important and urgent task is too boring. I can’t get passionate about sorting through the physical mail, paying the bills (though online), filing the receipts and so on. So here’s what I did. Firstly, I scheduled this task for Sunday mornings, so the pile of envelopes doesn’t bother me all week. Secondly, I systematically unsubscribed from many mailing lists. That required some time over the phone and some emails, but it was worthwhile. I also put as many bills as possible on auto-pay. Now I have a much smaller pile to deal with every Sunday morning. The idea is to get rid of, or minimize the unpleasant tasks in your life. Sometimes you can trade boring tasks with colleagues or members of the family. I’ll do your Powerpoint presentation; you do my Excel report. I’ll edit the photos; you do the filing. At home, I take care of all IT stuff; Salma looks after mechanical issues. I am responsible for all issues with schools and education; she looks after all the shopping and food. I do the paper work; she checks credit card statements…and so on.
  2. Lack of skill. Very often, we put things off because we are not good at them, or we just don’t know how to do them. The obvious way to deal with this is to learn. I knew somebody who dreaded the monthly reports because she wasn’t good at Excel. She used to make mistakes and feel stressed. So obviously, she would put it off until the very last minute, which would make it even worse. Until one day, she figured she had to learn it and get good at it. Once the stress of making mistakes and the fear of failure was gone, the task wasn’t as dreadful and the procrastination was also gone. Why do you think most salespeople procrastinate calling up the upset customer, or delay in resolving any conflicts, or put off the diet plan – because they are not good at these things and there’s a fear of failure.

Happy to add a very useful guide on beating procrastination by a fellow blogger. It’s very detailed, comprehensive and full of useful tips.

[A recent photo of sunset through a window – one of those things that can’t wait.]

13 thoughts on “Two main reasons we procrastinate…

  1. I completely agree .. When there too much to do in less time I do tend to procastinate depending upon the two reasons above. Mostly it’s lack of passion or drive which makes me do the delay 🙂

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  2. Procrastination is a human behavior but it also can be avoided by human being! It is worth to keep reminding myself from your words! Thank you so much to you … Mush! And i guess the third reason may be ^Lack of confident^ !

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  3. Great Article -and i totaly agree with the reasoning given thru your two reasonings-and Now await to see the Third One as well-

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  4. Its good attempt ,lack of abilities can let anybody down,hard work could change anybodys fate,i think there are many factors but if u are a confident,and hardworking person u will never procrastinate

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  5. Hi.Mush,
    I can remember the same words that u said one of the m/m at bangalore! I started following for a couple of months,it actually worked!and then forgotten! thanks for reminding!Thank you so much!

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  6. Procrastination has made me read this article today after years…..I do not know why I did not go through it before though I was busy doing nothing….great article….I need to read it more often…..I think the third reason is that we think that we are going to live forever and the task we are postponing can be done anytime in future……Mush, the way you thread your words to form a rosery is amazing…had attended many of your workshops long time back….you not only have loads of energy but you definitely know how to transmit that energy…..need to read your articles more often to be in peace. Thanks

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