Procrastination is not an issue that began with the advent of the Internet, but rather procrastination is a problem that has plagued people for centuries.
Procrastination is a common problem that most people face at some point in their lives. Research by the American Psychological Association has shown that 20 percent of Americans are chronic procrastinators. But why exactly do we procrastinate?
Putting things off is a tendency that most people have, but in some cases a behavioral health issue can be at the root of the problem.
Here are some of the most common reasons behind why some people have a tendency to procrastinate:
Lack of self-confidence/ Fear of failure
Some people procrastinate because they do not believe they have the tools they need to succeed. Perhaps you have an assignment that involves heavy reading and then writing a paper. If you feel that your reading skills are not up to par, it is only natural that you would want to avoid doing that task. If you do not believe that you have the skillset needed to achieve a goal, you are more likely to not want to pursue it. For people whose procrastination is caused by lack of self-confidence or fear of failure, they are using procrastination as a crutch. For them, it makes them feel better to not really try and fail, as opposed to putting in a lot of time and effort and then failing.
Striving for perfection
Fear of failure is frequently accompanied by perfectionism. Oddly, perfectionists are prone to procrastinate. People who are always striving for perfection are likely to procrastinate so they can use the excuse, “if I had more time, it would have been better.” These people need to remember to set more realistic goals for themselves, then they would be less likely to procrastinate, as their goals would seem more achievable.
Lack of motivation
This is perhaps the most common cause of procrastination. People believe that they must feel motivated to begin a task. While some motivation is needed to begin a task, research from the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University Business School shows that people who force themselves to begin a task even though they do not want to, begin to feel motivated to complete the task shortly after they begin. Oftentimes, making the first step, no matter how small it is, can be the motivator for further action.
People who are suffering from depression are especially prone to procrastination. Some side effects of a major depressive disorder include fatigue, feeling distracted, restlessness, indecision, feelings of worthlessness. All of these symptoms make it difficult for someone to complete a task without procrastinating.
Procrastinating may be a subconscious attempt to bring out your inner rebel. Some psychologists and mental health professionals believe that procrastination may be a defiant pattern, where one part of the brain—the procrastinator—wants to go against another part—the taskmaster. Or perhaps the rebellion is towards an outside source, i.e., an authority figure who ordered you to complete the task. By putting the work off, you may be subconsciously trying to satisfy the rebel inside you.
If a task seems particularly daunting and you do not know where to begin, you are highly likely to procrastinate because it causes you stress. If you are very stressed and feel like you have no idea how to begin to alleviate it, it may seem easier to just to do nothing.
Substance use and/or addictive behavior
A study published in The American Economic Review concludes that people who procrastinate more are more likely to engage in concerning behavior with illicit substances. Research has also found that procrastinators tend to drink more, likely because both issues are related to problems with self-regulation.