Do You Know Why You Procrastinate?

Are you a procrastinator? Do you notice that you habitually, or at least more than you’d like, put off doing certain tasks on your “to do” list? Have you ever thought about why you procrastinate?

There are actually many reasons for procrastinating. Here are some of mine.

Like most people I hate making mistakes.  I hate failing even more. I know for a fact that in the past I haven’t done some things merely because I was afraid I’d do it wrong. God forbid someone thought I was stupid or incompetent. My tender little ego just couldn’t handle the judgement. So I’m guilty of procrastinating because I didn’t feel confident about what I was doing.

Sometimes I put off doing something because I have this need to do it perfectly. I’m not afraid of failing, just failing to do it “just right.” For instance, I can put off writing because my perfectionism gets in the way. The words aren’t coming and if I can’t say it just exactly right, then I have a tendency to not write at all. So for me, procrastination is a sign of my perfectionism surfacing.

Sometimes I’ll put off doing something that is super important until the last minute like paying bills or doing some kind of accounting work.  If I wait long enough, then I convince myself that it’s a much higher priority than anything someone else would want me to do for them.  I rationalize that I haven’t got the time because what I’m doing is so much more important than other people’s wants and needs. This gets me out of having to do mundane chores because I’m engaged in a higher purpose activity. Procrastination is a sign of needing to feel like I’m doing something important.

Sometimes I put off doing work on a seemingly important goal. When I reflect back on that time period I realize the reason I wasn’t motivated was because it just wasn’t the right time. Part of me was ahead of myself. There was an order that needed to take place and intuitively I sense that, and hence my procrastination. That happened prior to writing my first book. I had this urge for years to write a book but I kept putting it off. My husband and I looked at buying a business and when that fell through all of a sudden the inspiration hit me and I my writing miraculously took off. Procrastination can be an intuitive feeling that guides you to do things in a certain order.

Procrastination can occur when we don’t want to have to tackle something alone. This usually happens when you have a huge, laborious chore to do, like cleaning the attic and you want company or some moral support as you tackle the project. The project doesn’t have to be difficult, just time consuming. I procrastinate because I want someone to do a chore with me to make it go faster.

Clock deadlines and doing something for someone else are great motivators.  Some chores just need that extra kick in the backside to get us moving. We need something or someone outside ourselves to motivate us. It’s amazing how expecting house guests can motivate you to clean a closet. Sometimes we put off a chore because we need to feel the burn of the deadline lighting a fire under us. We need something outside ourselves to ignite that surge of adrenaline that we get when the 11th hour is upon us. Procrastination is a way to motivate ourselves, and by waiting until the last minute it gives us the energy to do them.

Procrastination can also be a passive aggressive way of controlling others.  By making them wait they might become so frustrated they end up offering to do the job for you. Kids are notorious for doing this as well as many adults. It’s known as “upwards delegation.” I have to admit I’ve been guilty of putting off chores so long that my hubbie did them for me.

That’s my short list. Did you see yourself in any of these excuses for procrastination? Next time you find yourself procrastinating see if you can figure out why. It’s actually pretty inlightening.

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