We all do it- watch as the big deadline approaches, our anxiety rising but our bodies not jumping to action. Then, an hour before it’s due, panic takes hold, and you finish your assignment in a caffeine-induced haze. Procrastinating is a widespread problem, with about 20% of adults being chronic procrastinators (source). It’s worse for those in high academic fields, like college students, where 80-95% procrastinate on a regular basis (source).
Procrastination has more negative benefits than positive ones, but we keep finding ourselves drawn back into it. Why, and how can we stop it?
Why do we procrastinate?
Why we procrastinate has haunted researchers for ages. On every level, it is a bad idea for our overall well-being. Unless we are one of the rare people who truly thrive under pressure, procrastination does us nothing. So why do so many of us struggle with procrastinating?
There are many reasons, and some of them might be due to underlying stress or even mental illness. But mostly, it’s because we think we have to be in the right mindset in order to get a task done.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to be in the mood to do laundry. You just have to do it. (Easier said than done, we know.)
But a lot of the time, sheer willpower isn’t an option for overcoming procrastination. We only have so much energy in the day, and sometimes that energy just isn’t going to go towards our to-do list. When this happens, it can be helpful to figure out why you procrastinate.
There are 6 types of procrastinators, each one with a different reason why they procrastinate. Knowing the motivation behind your procrastination can help you be proactive in combatting it and getting yourself out of a procrastination slump when you are in it.
Types of procrastination:
- Perfectionist– delays tasks out of fear of not being able to do it perfectly
- Dreamer- delays task because they aren’t good at paying attention to detail
- Defier- delays tasks because they don’t respond well to someone else controlling their time schedule
- Worrier- delays tasks because they don’t know what will happen once they start
- Crisis-Maker – delays tasks because they enjoy working under pressure
- Overdoer- delays tasks because they took on too much and don’t have time to start and complete tasks. Some people, like the Crisis type, might procrastinate because they honestly work better under pressure. When this is managed, there is nothing wrong with this style of approach.
Tips to stop procrastinating
Everyone’s brain works a little differently, so everyone’s strategy to stop procrastinating should be different too. But here are some ideas to get you started:
- Break down your to-do list into 20-minute chunks
- Have a friend do the task with you (one you know won’t distract you)
and keep each other accountable.
- Eliminate distractions- put your phone in the other room, clean your space, and
put headphones on.
- Learn what works for you- do you work better with music? In a crowded space? With natural or overhead light?
- Reward yourself after a task! Life can still be fun and productive; your to-do list shouldn’t be a drag (or if it is, reward yourself with something extra fun after)
When it’s time to seek help
Usually, procrastination is just a normal human reaction to life. We all have to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes though, it is indicative of a deeper problem. Many mental illnesses can cause chronic procrastination. These are:
- Eating disorders
Procrastinating can show up in other mental health concerns, but it is especially prominent in those five. Check out our diagnostic pages to learn more about the disorders. If you relate to the symptoms, reach out to a RIVIA Mind specialist for a diagnosis screening today. It is easy to believe that you procrastinate just because you are lazy or lack willpower. Whether or not your procrastination is a result of a mental illness or of just being human- you are not lazy. There is always a reason behind your procrastination. If you can get to the root of the problem, doing tasks will become much easier.
If you are still struggling with chronic procrastination, it is worth reaching out for help! Therapy can help with issues such as procrastination by teaching you the skills you need to overcome it and acknowledging underlying emotions that could be spurring the procrastination forward. For more information, or to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, call us at (212) 203-1773, or browse our list of specialists.