Part 1 : The 7 Major Causes of Procrastination!

“Procrastination is the thief of time”

My English teacher made me write that out 500 times after I was late handing in an assignment. It didn’t do anything to teach me how to manage my habits but it did stick in my mind.

Just about all of us have been guilty of procrastinating over something at some time; that task we need to complete, that discussion we need to have, that appointment we need to make and keep …

Chances are that you’re procrastinating right now as you read this.

In business, our jobs and in our personal lives, if we put off making decisions, delay starting new projects, avoid pursuing fresh business or even neglect completing current projects where does that lead?
  • Certainly an impact on our profitability
  • Missed promotions
  • Less income
  • Inability to meet financial commitments
  • Stress
  • Disappointment
  • Deterioration in personal relationships …
You get the picture! So why do we do it?

Why do we choose to waste time doing things that are not productive and don’t contribute to getting the important things done on the way to reaching our goals?

Let’s have a look at the 7 major causes of this behavior; 1. Fear Fear of the consequences of our actions is often a major cause of procrastination behavior. Not just fear of failure – who wants to work hard on a project and have it flop? – fear of success can also be a factor. If we succeed, what additional expectations and challenges will we be creating for ourselves? Fear can cause us to throw the mental anchors out, slow us down, stop us from even starting out! 2. Burnout Sometimes we’ve just been working on something too intensely for too long, putting in way too many extra hours to get the results we want and neglecting to take breaks and rest. We’re tired, our brain is fried and we have no energy left to keep going so we look for relief in distraction. 3. Lack of knowledge or skills If we’re not sure of what we’re doing, if the task doesn’t sit well within our skill set or just plain baffles us and we feel like we could be going to give birth to a disaster then we will look for ways to avoid the  inevitable train wreck. 4. Distractions Distractions can take many forms; distractions occur where we haven’t got a space to work in that allows us to concentrate on what we want to achieve, distractions where we have personal circumstances or relationship issues getting in the way of completing the tasks, or even if we are prone to a little attention deficit. These all contribute to a lack of focus that result in delays, avoidance and procrastination. 5. Complexity This one is similar to the lack of knowledge or skills. Sometimes the task appears too complex to get a handle on and we feel like we’re out of our depth. Any of the preceding factors can feed into this and magnify the task so it feels even more complex than it actually is! 6. Not enough time Too many other important tasks and commitments vying for our attention? Family and friends want us to spend more time with them. Clients have an increasing list of demands and requests. Boss keeps giving us more work when we are hard pressed to keep up with what’s already on our plate. Is the task too big, too much work to get done in the available time? When we feel like there is just too much to do in the available time it’s tempting to accept that we’re headed for failure … motivation falls away and procrastination creeps in. 7. Emotions We’ve all got them. Some of us are better at recognizing the effect that they have on our ability to get on with the task than others. Sometimes the task can be burdened with the emotions that we might have about people; we’ve committed to doing it for someone we don’t really like, or the situation; we might feel that being given the task or project isn’t fair as we already have a lot to do! Not being able to step away from those emotional factors will certainly inhibit our ability to complete the task.

Do you recognize any of these procrastination behaviors in your day?

Most of us will almost certainly be able to tick off a couple. How do we overcome them and take better control of the progress on the important tasks at hand? Look for Part 2 where I talk about how we can Combat Procrastination Behaviors.