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Why Do I Procrastinate?   10 Causes and Fixes (Part 1)

why do I procrastinate 1

Photo Credit: Aaron Concannon / CC 2.0

 

Why Do I Procrastinate?

Honestly, I don't much anymore.  I used to.  But I was unhappy and stressed out.  So, ever so slowly, I made changes.

Life feels better when you stay on task and get stuff done.  When you choose to spend your finite time on meaningful pursuits and focused intentions, your dreams really do begin to manifest.  It's real.  But you have to learn how to stop procrastinating.

Below are 10 important causes of procrastination and fixes you can use against them!

 


"Why Do I Procrastinate?"  Because…

1.  You're Into Instant Gratification

A bit like a child, maybe you're still acting on impulse.  Perhaps you haven't trained your brain to create space and time between impulse and action.  So, your brain is a bully when you want something.  You're always giving in and letting your brain push you around.

The problem is that when you let these types of behaviors rule your life, you put impulse in front of responsibility and true fulfillment.  Your life can quickly unravel because the behaviors, actions, and decisions needed to build the life of your dreams very often require discomfort and delayed gratification.

If you don't learn to quiet your impulses and delay gratification, you will keep procrastinating and your life will very likely still be messy and perhaps unfulfilling another 25 years down the road.
 

The Fix?

You have to practice.  Practice building the habit of delayed gratification.

Do this 1st by becoming aware, in the moment, each time you have a strong impulse to do something that puts your goal off until tomorrow.  For example:

  • eating cookies instead of broccoli
  • sleeping in instead of working out
  • washing dishes instead of writing that article

2nd, before gratifying that impulse, take three minutes, close your eyes, and breathe.  Now, imagine the feeling of having fulfilled your goal, having completed your project, or living your dream-life.  Feels good, right?  Now, ask yourself, "How will I feel about myself and the way I spent today's 24 precious hours, if I allow myself to take this impulsive action?  If I allow myself to eat the sugar, sleep in, or get out of my chair before I've competed my tasks?"

If you want to feel good and proud of your day's accomplishments, and ready to get up and go again tomorrow, then put this space and mini-meditation between your impulses and your actions.  Your future self will thank you!

 


"Why Do I Procrastinate?"  Because…

2.  You're Unrealistic About Time

Some people are good at estimating time-needs for tasks.  If you're a procrastinator, chances are, you're not one of them.  But, you can learn to get better.

A big reason people don't get things done on time or can't get out the door or arrive on time, is that they're not being realistic about how long things take.  Also, they're not including in their time estimate the little things, like brushing teeth (5 mins), walking to the car and forgetting something (10 mins), or errors, editing, and adjustments (lots of time).

The Fix?

Every morning (and every evening), take five minutes to plan your day, down the minute.  Don't just make a list of To-Dos.  That's where procrastinators can fail before they begin.

Your daily schedule will serve you best if you include things like "eat lunch", "shower", and "get ready for the meeting".  Also, write the times for each and every activity (8:30am – Email; 8:45am – Write…).

I've found that writing my schedule in the same place everyday (I use Podio), and setting reminders for urgent tasks or meetings, helps me stay super productive.  Here's an example schedule.

 


"Why Do I Procrastinate?"  Because…

3.  You Live in the Past and/or Future  ….(or Maybe Too Much in the Present)

So often, we project ourselves into the distant past, reliving experiences we had years ago, feeling the same awkward or disturbing feelings over and over again.  "I can't believe I said that to him!"  Or, "Why couldn't I connect with my ex?"  And on and on it goes.  We regret, we cringe, we feel sorrow for days gone by.  And it's exhausting.  But your life is not back there.  It's here, right now.

Or, you worry about tomorrow, wondering if things will ever be right.  "Will I ever be who I am in my fantasies?"  You use your imagination to create regret in the future.  How insane is that?  The events in your mind only exist there, nowhere else.  And so, your mind swirls in this imagined little world, causing an energy-leak.  But you need that energy focused on this moment, if you want to be fully awake to the life that exists for you, now.

That said, there needs to be the right kind of balance.  It's not helpful to live in regret, nostalgia or fantasy all the time.  However, when you live ONLY for this moment, and put off creating solid plans for your future, you aren't taking full advantage of that over which you have control.  You aren't utilizing the gift of co-creation and the power of free will.

The Fix?

Imagination and vision, if used with purpose and intention, are the keys to creating a bright future.  Putting regular time and effort into these activities, to truly understand what you want in life, are crazy-important.  Scheduling 15 minutes a day for goal creation and refinement, and even visualizing what your dream life feels like, will help you crystalize the steps and details of how you'll get there.  Then, you've got to schedule those steps––the actions taken today are the only way to create an incredible tomorrow.

 


"Why Do I Procrastinate?"  Because…

4.  Discomfort is a Big Dirty Word

Discomfort is a bitch.  It's naggy, persistent, and all up in your business.  When you're pumped up to work and on a roll, somehow discomfort comes knocking.  It will subtly tap and poke with a stiffness in your back, a hunger in your stomach, or a discontented little whisper that "all you need is a pick-me-up latte, and then you'll be okay".

For procrastinators, discomfort is an excuse.  It's the reason it's acceptable to get out of your seat or focus on something else.  You're allowed to be comfortable, so why suffer?  Why deny yourself when you're working toward your goal, right?

The issue here is that you're training your brain to interrupt your focus and put off your goal every time you feel the slightest bit of discomfort.  Allowing the interruption reinforces the brain to want to do something different in order to end any type of discomfort.

Discomfort will always interrupt everything you do in life.  If dicomfort is a big dirty word for you, you need to get more comfortable with it.

The Fix?

Deep breathing is super helpful.  Also, watching your thoughts and feelings as an observer when you're uncomfortable may help you to be more objective about your emotions.  When you can get a slight distance and objectivity, you stop identifying with the discomfort so much.  You don't hold on to it and you can let go more.

The impermanance of the discomfort allows it to pass, and your allowing of it to pass will help it pass faster.

 


"Why Do I Procrastinate?"  Because…

5.  The Grass is Always Greener…

When you want what everyone else has, you're not truly living YOUR life, and you're probably procrastinating on making a great one for yourself and your loved ones.

The Fix?

Give it up.  Take off your shoes and feel the grass under your toes.  Your life is yours and only you can get a grip on it.  Learn to enjoy the fun AND the work.  Be proud of what you have, be glad you have the ability to experience it, and live it up with the time you've got left here.  Excuses are excuses and there's a way around every one of them.

 


…continue reading Part 2  >>
 

"So…why do 'I' procrastinate?" 

Implement the five fixes above.  Do them ritually.  Set yourself apart, change your habits, and cross off those fabulous and formerly ellusive items on your ever-growing bucket list!
 

What are your own experiences with procrastinating?  I'd be interested to hear your top strategies for overcoming procrastination in your life.
 

This post continues with Part 2.  Click here to read on.
 

Thanks for reading and comments are welcome below.
 

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