Procrastination at work – reasons for procrastination and overcoming it

Procrastination can be the bane of your existence if you are a creative office worker who also has some personal projects going in on. You know you should be working, reading, planning and researching but you keep finding excuses not to.

Sounds familiar?

And the worst part is that you keep beating yourself about it. It is a vicious cycle of self-hatred and anxiety.

Have you had enough of this? Are you willing to work toward changing that?
Good. Then let us look into why do we procrastinate and how we can overcome this behavior

What is procrastination?

Here are some procrastination examples:

Gaming the night away knowing you have only 3 days left to complete that important work report.

Going out shopping for supplies you already have instead of studying for your exams.

Procrastination is basically the proactive avoidance of making important decisions and taking actions.

Why is procrastination bad? Because procrastinators spiral down into negativity and suffer mentally. This behavior is associated with stress, health problems, and a lower quality of life.

Why do we procrastinate?

This is actually a very curious phenomenon and understanding the reasons behind this behavior is key to solving your problem.

You might think that the root cause of your procrastination is lack of willpower and you are somewhat correct but the reasons are actually far more complicated.

We have the motivation that comes from the rewards we will receive in return for our hard work. The higher your motivation is, the more likely you’ll be to focus on your work and achieve your goals. However, there are counterbalancing factors such as fear of failure and anxiety that sabotage our ability of self-control.

Mental and physical exhaustion can also hinder our ability to summon the focus we need to meet deadlines.

Time is another factor that plays a role here. For instance, the long term goals we have might seem too abstract at this point so we are unable to clearly see the rewards in order to be motivated.

The bottom line is that our motivation and ability to focus suffer when the sabotaging factors outweigh our will power. Thus, we end up procrastinating.

Causes of procrastination

Here we have listed the most common reasons for procrastinating. Go through the list and note what applies to you. Remember to be honest about it. Yes, it might be a bit painful and hurt your ego a little bit but you won’t be able to escape your detrimental behavior unless you face your demons.

#1. External Distractions – This is simply your physical inability to focus on one task due to a constant stream of external distractions. For example, your office might be a noisy place, or you are being constantly texted by your friends and family.

#2. Impulsive behavior – So, it’s 10 pm on a Sunday and you are about to go through your plan for next week when your friend Steve texts you to come over for Call of Duty and peanut butter sock shots. You drop all your planning and go to Steve’s place. Without considering how this will affect your productivity.

#3. Mood priority – It’s time for you to go back to your side project but you feel a little bit down because your Facebook crush won’t text you back. So instead of working, you end up watching some anime. In order to fix your mood. To escape from the bitter, soul-crushing reality. Numbing the pain with a little comfort. This happens because we tend to act based on our current emotional state.

#4. Lack of mental and physical energy – It is hard to focus on important work when your energy is depleted. For example, going to the gym to lift heavy weights after a taxing Monday at the office might leave you too overwhelmed to spare some time for your personal projects.

#5. Lack of motivation – It is hard to work on something when you are unable to see the value and benefits that can come your way.

#6. Depression – Some people end up procrastinating because they are deeply depressed.
Their constant suffering depletes their energy end negates their motivation.

#7. Lack of self-efficacy – If you don’t believe that you will do a good job when it comes to a certain task, then you might end up procrastinating.

#8. Fear of failure – If you are terrified of failing, then you might end up not starting at all.

#9. Fear of evaluation – The things we do are judged by others. The knowledge that negative feedback will be painful can be another reason for us to avoid working toward our goals in the first place.

#10. Perfectionism – If you are one of those people who just want things to be perfect, then you might end up re-working your projects again and again but you are basically just shooting yourself in the foot. The goal for higher and higher quality work might be detrimental to your productivity.

#11. Overwhelming workload – Procrastination and stress are linked. Sometimes there is so much to do that you have no idea how to start. You end avoiding starting at all because of the immense chaos and stress that you have to face.

#12. Abstract goals and rewards far in the future – Sometimes we have the desire to achieve something but we are unable to begin work because our goals are too abstract. At the same time, we are unable to see the rewards that will come from our efforts, thus our motivation will be compromised.

How to stop procrastinating

The key to overcoming procrastination tendencies lies in figuring out what are the causes of procrastination in the first place.

Once you identify what is holding you back, you can take active steps to eliminate those factors from your life so you can focus on your work and achieve your goals.

You need to realize that not doing your best to achieve your personal and professional goals will only leave you in a place of self-hatred. Giving your best shot – no matter if you fail or succeed – is the only way you will be fulfilled.

Key takeaways

– Procrastination happens when a host of self-sabotaging factors become stronger than our motivation and willpower.
– Procrastinators often experience anxiety and risk lowering the quality of their life.
– There are many factors that can fuel our procrastination tendencies. Eliminating these factors is crucial to becoming productive.