Welcome, fellow procrastinator, to another 5 minutes of stalling.
Procrastination happens. There’s not much thinking behind it; it’s a very impulsive act. Some things just don’t feel nice, so we avoid them. The end result is almost always identical: We end up squeezing everything into whatever time we have left and the results reflect that. Knowing why we procrastinate may not help everyone get over it. However, for some of us out there, understanding why we do things may be an awakening in itself.
Why We Procrastinate?
1) A Façade of Time
The classic description of procrastination: “I can do it later”.
To a certain extent, this behavior is what we call ‘prioritization’; where we deal with urgent matters first and put aside the rest. This is generally a logical thing to do. When it spirals out of control, we then term it procrastination. We are constantly attending to urgent matters. As times passes on, the things we put off then become urgent; thus starting a never-ending cycle of panic and procrastination. Worst still, we may delay important actions in favor unimportant ones merely because we think we that there’s enough time to attend to important actions later on.
In essence: If you find yourself thinking that you should relax now “because you have the time”, and if this is becoming a detrimental norm, you are experiencing a façade of time. Time conceals future responsibilities by masking it with current –sometimes unimportant –tasks. You face it; I face it; we all face it.
2) A Disconnect between Action and Reward
Our mind is at war with our future. The human mind has a tendency to favor instant results over delayed rewards; even if the delayed rewards are of greater intensity. I’m sure there’s a case study on this somewhere, but I’ll find it later.
This specific tendency to procrastinate is usually associated with laziness. Studying doesn’t feel nice. You don’t feel in the mood to return an aunt’s call. That report you’re doing is such a drag. But you know what feel’s great? YouTube videos. Of cats.
This is the disconnect between action and reward: Working now doesn’t yield a result straight way –but watching TV or reading a funny article does.
3) Low Expectations
On a more serious note, we procrastinate when we feel that there’s no potential in a task. Previous letdowns, low self-esteem, and hopelessness all contribute to a desire to ignore reality and procrastinate instead. A 1991 psychological report by Joseph R. Ferrari stated that “Behavioral procrastination …may arise from viewing one’s personal projects with extreme pessimism…”
Ever wonder why people sometimes sideline their life dreams? It’s not our place to assume, but sometimes it may be because of low expectations. Setting up that dream business doesn’t seem realistic; neither does losing weight and getting fit. If you don’t think something is going to produce results, you’re just not going to do it; even if you secretly want it at the back of your mind.