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Home // Blog Home // What Causes You to Procrastinate?

Has organizing your computer files been on your to-do list since last summer? Is there a writing project you've been avoiding like the plague? What about those networking phone calls you've been meaning to get to since the job market got so shaky. What is it that causes you to procrastinate...........? 

Most people do a bang-up job beating themselves up for putting things off--"I'm so lazy.... I'm so undisciplined....I must have a fear of succes." Needless to say, beating yourself up isn't particularly productive...and one could argue, is just another form of procrastination. 

So, what to do?  The best way to combat procrastination is to get specific, and learn more about exactly what causes you to hesitate. Study yourself for a week or so by keeping a log. Do you procrastinate on everything or only some things? For some of us, it's the big, daunting projects that lead to running out for yet another iced coffee, for others, it's all about avoiding the little, boring or annoying tasks. 

Once you have a list of the things you are putting off...you can diagnose the practical reason for your paralysis.   In my work as a time management coach, Iíve found four common ďcauses of pausesĒ: 

          Task is too big. The size and scale of the task is overwhelming...you donít know where to start, or feel that if you do start, youíll barely make a dent-- so why bother?  

         Performance anxiety. The specific task is intimidatingóyou are worried about making a mistake, and lacking confidence in your ability to get the job done well. So you donít start at all.

         Fear of what comes next.   Sometimes we have no problem with the task we're facing...itís the implication of what comes after it's done that we find daunting.  (Yikes! If I finally fire an underperforming employee, Iíll have to look for a replacement and then spend hours doing the training.)

         Work better under pressure Some people thrive on the adrenaline rush that comes from rescuing themselves from a crisis. Perfectionists often leave things to the last minute because it takes them off the hookó subconsciously they feel that if the work isnít perfect, they have a built in excuseóitís not a reflection on their abilities, they just didnít have enough time.

Once you get to the heart of your hesitation, you can take specific, practical action to get unstuck.  (Iíll provide suggestions in my next blog--stay tuned).

In the meantime, tell me what you procrastinate on:  Do you avoid the big projects or the tedious ones?  Things youíve never done before or things youíve grown tired of?  What strategies do you use to overcome your paralysis?

In the meantime, tell me what you procrastinate on:  Do you avoid the big projects or the tedious ones?  Things youíve never done before or things youíve grown tired of?  What strategies do you use to overcome your paralysis?

In the meantime, tell me what you procrastinate on:  Do you avoid the big projects or the tedious ones?  Things youíve never done before or things youíve grown tired of?  What strategies do you use to overcome your paralysis?

In the meantime, tell me what you procrastinate on:  Do you avoid the big projects or the tedious ones?  Things youíve never done before or things youíve grown tired of?  What strategies do you use to overcome your paralysis?
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Comments
Comment posted on 07/14/2009 at 01:40 pm
I'm in my SHEDing process, but I've stopped completely now that it's came time to conquer my paperwork. I can't seem to touch. : And, I'm procrastinating on getting a friend's design done because I'm afraid she won't like it. I'll try to your tips. Thanks for continuing to blog and inspire. Keep it up! -ti.

Comment posted on 07/15/2009 at 12:57 am
One of the most common fears about SHEDing papers is fear of doing a bad job--i.e. tossing some critical pieces of info. Also, sometimes, hard to break it into managable steps. Check out the free Vital Documents workbook under Learning Tools tab on this website...http://www.juliemorgenstern.com/LearningTools/Downloads/ It can help you identify what the true practical paper treasures are. This gives you more confidence that you'll do a good job preserving what's vital...and heaving the rest.

Comment posted on 08/05/2009 at 05:15 pm
Julie, You hit it right on! I tell my clients to name a reward that they will give themself once the "ugh" awful task is complete, and then really DO IT! Thanks for your list.

Comment posted on 09/19/2009 at 11:50 am
I avoid the big projects because I don't know how to break things down into steps. I avoid more important projects because I'm afraid I won't do them well. I avoid projects that are unfamiliar and new to me for the same reason. Strategies I've used in the past to help me overcome paralysis? Well, I procrastinated on doing my Master's Thesis for years. Finally, I requested a different way of completing my program that included taking more classes and doing a portfolio. I did finally get my degree, but feel like I "cheated" by not doing the thesis. The thesis seemed like such a big important project and I wanted it to be so brilliant!

Comment posted on 10/27/2009 at 05:32 pm
I find that I procrastinate on everything, because, even when it comes to planning out steps for even just small stuff, I find I have issues, the planning itself needs to be perfect, so I end up getting side tracked finding that perfect planning solution or software, and pretty soon, I forget what I was originally working on to begin with. Even if I have it written down, it gets lost in the clutter, and then the site of the clutter or daunting task ahead of me suddenly overwhelms me. Usually I drown myself in games on my computer, because the pile on my desk, or around my home is getting worse, and worse, and the more I look at it, the more I get overwhelmed... it's a vicous cycle I need to break BAD! I usually end up getting so pissed off at myself, that I finally break down, and go crazy for a day or two, get it all nice, and then throw up my feet until it happens again. :-( I'll be the first to admit that I'm lazy. I know I've got all this potential, and it remains more a possibility than a reality, because of my procrastination.

Comment posted on 11/22/2009 at 01:10 pm
My perfectionism always gets in the way. I dont have it with everything, and certainly not being clutter free. Iv just got so much stuff that it all stops me progressing.

Comment posted on 08/21/2010 at 03:54 pm
I feel that I might procrastinate on my procrastinate log. Can you be a little more specific about the log? Should we be logging things that we are procrastinating on or should we log why we are procrastinating on this things? This procrastinator needs help!

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