Why Do We Procrastinate?

This question has been bothering me for the past few days. I tried to shrug it off but couldn’t rid my mind of this badgering question. The more I try to evade this question, the more it weighs on my mind. Is procrastination a crime or a sin? Don’t we all procrastinate occasionally or constantly? There may be a raft of reasons for procrastination. Some may be valid, and some may not be. But procrastination is an undeniable reality, and we have to accept it no matter how bitter it sounds.

As far as I am concerned, I do procrastinate occasionally. I have no issue in making this candid admission. But, why do I do this? Why do I put off doing things? What holds me back from doing whatever I want to do at a particular time? Why is there a delay or dilly-dallying on my part? There is nothing intentional.

If I drag my feet in doing something, it is just because of time constraints. I am doing a full-time job, and don’t find enough free time to do certain things as and when I wish to do them. For instance, I want to write a blog post daily, finish reading the books I have started, etc. However, I am left with little free time, and this holds me back from executing my plans. I don’t find enough spare time to indulge in the simple pleasures of conceiving and composing a post, or reading some chapters of a new novel. I, therefore, have to keep putting off things for days or weeks. This is unavoidable on my part, but it makes me feel stressed. I wish I had more free time at my disposal to lead a leisurely life. But only if wishes were horses…

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Enough about my being a procrastinator. Let’s explore some other causes and reasons for procrastination. Dr. Joseph R. Ferrari, a psychologist in his book Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done has categorized procrastinators into three types. These include:

  1. Thrill-seekers
  2. Avoiders
  3. Indecisive People

1- Thrill Seekers

They are not habitual procrastinators. They can easily dispose of things as and when they choose to do so. However, they procrastinate for the sake of adventure and thrill. They intentionally put off doing certain things till the last moment, and then accomplish the task effortlessly. This last-minute accomplishment of a task fills them with a thrill.

2- Avoiders

The second category of procrastinators is avoiders. These are the people who are afraid of being judged. They lack self-confidence and avoid responsibility. So they keep procrastinating things for fear of being judged by the people. They keep on postponing certain tasks and dare not take timely decisions or actions. Other people might not be interested in what they do or don’t do. However, they suffer from this phobia and hence prefer procrastination over action.

3- Indecisive People

This is the third category of procrastinators. They lag behind others because of their indecisive nature. They are poor decision-makers and keep ruminating over their choices endlessly. They take too much time before reaching a decision. They are always indecisive and keep deferring their decisions and delaying their actions.

Final Words

Procrastination is a common problem and almost every one of us has been guilty of procrastinating at some stage in our lives. Some of us may be occasional procrastinators, while others may be habitual procrastinators. However, procrastination has little to do with laziness and more to do with a state of mind. It is neither a crime nor a sin. It is something more complicated and demands deeper study. According to Dr. Ferrari, “Everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.”

In this blog post, we have tried to fathom the reasons behind procrastination. I have cited my own case at the onset. Then we learned about the three types of procrastinators; who put off things for thrill-seeking, for fear of being judged, and for being indecisive.

Are you a procrastinator too? If yes, what is the reason for your being so? Apart from the reasons cited above, what may be some other reasons for procrastination? Do you consider it an aberration or something more complex and worthy of psychological counseling? 

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11 thoughts on “Why Do We Procrastinate?

  1. I second real dervish because I too am a thrill seeker. But sometimes it’s worse than just being a procrastinator because not always, we are able to handle things we like to.
    For painting and writing I keep things in a delayed position in order to get better thinking/plan.
    But for reading, procrastination is more like a sin. There are a lot of books I have to read but I have lost interest in them.
    I also endorse your point for getting psychological help to get rid of it as shunning responsibilities whether personal or professional is of no good.
    Thank you Shahbaz for a food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree with you Saba that certain things are not in our control, hence we can do nothing about them.
      And of course, we have to prioritize things when we have so much in our plate. Some things need to be done immediately, but others can be put on hold.
      Painting and creative writing definitely demand more focus and brain work.
      Finally, there can be no excuse in putting off reading books we wanna read. Agree with you that procrastination in reading is tantamount to a sin.
      As for seeking psychological help, there is no harm in doing so if procrastination becomes a habit. In fact, in such a case, seeking psychological advice is highly recommended.
      Thanks for your insightful engagement, Saba. Stay blessed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate myself with the thrill seekers because I too keep on putting off some tasks till the last moment, and then accomplish them without much trouble. It has become a habit now.
    Also agree with you Shahbaz that a full time job also makes us procrastinators since we’re usually unable to find spare time to do the things in time. But, this is the dilemma of modern man.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Personally, I have realised that I procrastinate because of my anxiety. I get anxious about doing things and whether I’ll fail or succeed. That was a big cause of my procrastination. But once I realised the cause and began working on it, it’s gotten better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is also evidence to suggest that many procrastinators are perfectionists who put of tasks etc because they fear not achieving their own standards. I think your presentation of the 2nd cause is a bit simplistic and doesn’t fully capture the psychological complexities of the reality of procrastination.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As a former pro-procrastinator, I can tell you that procrastination is a form of self-harm and might be an extension of childhood neglect. Those who grew up in unstable families never learn life skills (such as being an organized person and having plans) properly and develop unhealthy habits such as procrastination. Children basically model their parents, and if their parents aren’t there to teach them basic life skills, they will either strive to learn them by themselves later in their lives (my case) or never grow up and deal with responsibilities (my brother’s case). That’s one of the things I’ve learned while reading up on inner childhood wounds.

    There’s also the notion of perfection and the black-and-white thinking that blocks our productivity.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agree with you Bahanur that procrastination can be a form of self-harm if it is left undiagnosed and untreated. If someone becomes a habitual procrastinator then this might be a complicated issue, and needs immediate counsel. However, occasionally, we all procrastinate due to one reason or the other.
      Also agree with you that children are influenced by their parents and teachers. And if these models are not there in their formative years then they are open to anything. They may learn by themselves or may never learn. The latter option is catastrophic and may have serious consequences.

      Liked by 1 person

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