6 legit reasons to procrastinate (and how to stop)

by Destiny Hagest

I see you there, with your Facebook and your dreamy expression. I know what you’re up to. I know that look, because that’s my look. The “I have plenty of time, what’s the rush” face.

You have mountains to move, you have empires to build, and you know what I know: You’re not going to get there by scrolling through your Instagram.

Procrastination isn’t an ailment reserved for the regular Joes and Janes who haven’t yet had their taste of success. Every single person out there, even the Elon Musks of our generation, have put things off to the last minute.

The crazy part?

The super successful aren’t that way because they never procrastinated, they’re successful because they overcame it. They felt that overwhelming urge to be underwhelming, they cut it off at the knees, and they just DID THE THING.

So do the thing. Get off your virtual rear and get it while the gettin’s good (i.e., before everyone else beats you to it).

Reason #1 — Social media addiction

Social media is the procrastination that you never see coming. It’s addictive, it’s habit-forming, and it can even disguise itself as work in some cases. Don’t fall for it.

The Solution: Schedule time for social media just like you would a meeting. Set a timer if you have to. Get on there, do whatever it is you do, and then get out and stay out.

If you have to flit in and out for work, make yourself a promise to ignore notifications and messages, because you’re all business. Use the 5-second rule if you have to, but do not give yourself a chance to justify clicking on that little red one (because I SAW THAT).

Reason #2 — Personal problems

Boys, family, friends — whatever it is, there’s always something going on personally for everyone. So how do you shut it out? How do you cut your brain off from dwelling and stewing on things you can’t do anything about so you can focus on being a baller?

The Solution: Here’s the thing: your brain is stubborn. It cannot, will not, let you do anything but sulk and worry and stew on something if it’s bothering for you, so don’t ignore your feelings. Journal, write it down, get it out, vent until you run out of oxygen, but give that energy somewhere to go. Acknowledge what you’re thinking. Work through your questions and your fears.

And then shut it down. Feel the feelings, and then walk away from them so that you can focus.

Reason #3 — You hate what you do

It’s sad, but true: most people wind up procrastinating when their jobs make them want to hide under the covers. If you resent your to-do list every day or get a little thrill out of kicking the can down the road some more, take note: eventually, you’re going to run into a pile of cans that you really, really hate.

The Solution: First up, it’s time to get really honest with yourself: Do you hate what you do? Do you really resent your work? Figure out what specifically is making you put things off, and get to the root of the why behind it.

If it’s just a certain type of task or to-do everyday that drives you nuts (like filing those damned TPS reports), here’s a solid tip: Do it first.

Reason #4 — Chronic bumblephone

Ah yes, chronic bumblephone-itis. It’s a very serious condition that enables a procrastinator to justify not doing what they need to do every day because their phone is “like, blowing up.” It’s a thing, and it totally happens, but it’s not much of an excuse for getting nothing done.

The Solution: Turn on Do Not Disturb Mode (and Do Not Apologize Mode, while you’re at it). Look, it’s great to be available and responsive, but not at the expense of what needs to be done. Tune out distractions because, ultimately, you’re the boss of your phone.

Reason #5 — Interruption city

Working remotely presents some unique challenges when it comes to interruptions. On the one hand, you’re in control of your time and connectivity, so you can shut down digital interruptions at will. On the other hand, kids. And dogs. Or cats.

No matter where you work, interruptions will always be there to give you an out, and a great excuse to put off work.

Regardless of who you are or what you do, you’re in the driver’s seat here. If interruptions are keeping you from work, here’s the real deal: You’re allowing interruptions to get in the way of your work.

The Solution: Say you don’t have time for a meeting, and mean it. Hire a dog walker. Figure out some childcare. Do what you have to do to manage interruptions, but know that ultimately, you have to be the one to do it. Fighting procrastination most of the time is not an exercise in willpower, it’s an exercise in saying no with confidence and being okay with establishing boundaries.

Reason #6 — Fear

Fear makes us all freeze in our tracks at one point or another. It paralyzes us into doing nothing, making us feel small and incompetent. So we bail. We put off. We hide. We flake. And we miss out in really huge ways.

The Solution: Fear is an unruly beast. It creeps into our lives masked as procrastination and laziness, when all too often, there’s a deeper monster lurking. The best way to get around it is to act without thinking. Use the 5 second rule. It’s a psychology tool that helps you act more and think less, and its effects can be life-changing.

Be honest with yourself

We’re masters at manipulating ourselves. When it comes to justifying what we use to put off work, nobody does it better than us. Sharpen your filters for procrastination, and start getting really honest with yourself when you see old habits sneaking back in.

Journal daily, actively picture what you want, and remember why you want it. Passion is a kick in the teeth to procrastination, and forward motion is a death blow. Keep moving, and never offer your energy to anything that doesn’t serve your goals.

Image credit: Photo courtesy of Raw Pixel.