Root Causes of Procrastination

You want to start things, but you’re putting them off? You’re just waiting until the right moment, the right time, or your phone is simply more interesting? That’s kind of the story of my life!

Procrastination? Been there, done that!

Often times we’re putting off work that we want to do, and the problem is that we don’t realize it!

This morning I was again doing it. I got up at 6:00 am as usual. After I got up I meditated, did my affirmations to attract wealth and abundance, and wanted to start writing a blog.

[Related Read: Why You Should Get Up Early, It’s More Than Being Productive as Hell]

Except for I didn’t. I just scrolled through Twitter, went to Pinterest, went to Whatsapp, and repeated the cycle over and over again.

I wasn’t even noticing that I was procrastinating, because I was ‘doing something for the blog’, right?

Well no, I was just putting off writing my articles.

I began thinking, why did I not just start? What was holding me back?

I realized that there were different reasons at different times why I couldn’t set myself to start.

You might recognize this. Putting off doing things at times. Not starting at all because you’re doing other, more interesting, things. Being too busy. Being overwhelmed.

There are generally five root causes of procrastination. Let’s dive straight into them, and how to resolve them!

Simplify Your Life

Why Do I Procrastinate and How To Solve It?

You have big goals and dreams, and scrolling through Pinterest or Twitter isn’t one of them. It creates feelings of frustration and stress afterward because you have less time to do the things you actually want to do.

I think procrastination is a form of self-sabotage that we all experience at times.

There are many different root causes of procrastination, but there are five main ones that we are going to look at here.

1. Overwhelmed Avoidance

This morning, I was just being overwhelmed.

Everyone is at times.

You don’t know where to start, so your mind concluded: okay, let’s open Twitter then. The number one reason for procrastination!

It is too much for your brain to process the complex task, so the complex task was replaced by a simple task. How incredible our brains are!

Result: loss of motivation and the start of procrastination.

It is easier for your brain to look for a more enjoyable task.

While this might be better for you on the short term, in the long term you still want to complete your task. This can cause stress and even more procrastination when you inevitably have to complete the task.

How to Solve this?

Writing a blog was totally overwhelming for me today, but I wouldn’t be every day. So if you’re dealing with more complex tasks, I would also tell you this:

Break what you have to do down in smaller subtasks and focus on each one individually. This way it doesn’t seem like the daunting task that it was at first.

If we take the blogging example, it would be a good idea to first think what you want to write about.

If you’ve figured that out, write a quick outline of your post or just start writing and see where it goes. When you’ve already have done the biggest bump, it’s easier to grab your momentum and keep going.

Pro tip: start in the morning, so that you still have a fresh mind and motivation!

[Related Read: How to Radically Simplify Your Life This Year]

Person Working On Laptop Stock

2. No Prioritization

This morning, I was lacking prioritization. I always have too many things on my mind that I want to do.

When you lack prioritization you procrastinate and do the tasks that are unimportant and enjoyable first.

(Yeeezz all these difficult words, I think I’ve already typed procrastination wrong at least 10 times)

Prevent switching from one task to the other without spending too much time deciding what it is that you want to do.

My result: getting nothing done.

Don’t be like me and prioritize as if your life depends on it!

How to Solve this?

Choose an important task that is urgent or not urgent yet. Don’t spend your time on tasks that are not important. You’ve surely seen the table of urgency and importance:

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor urgency and importance matrix
Image from Develop Good Habits

The thing is that you want to only do things that are urgent/important or non-urgent/important. The other tasks you want to delegate or eliminate.

When you’re at work, you don’t want to answer emails from your colleagues that they consider ‘urgent’ but absolutely have zero added value for your job.

Rather you want to work on tasks that will influence your current projects for the better, tasks that are important.

This will help you to prioritize and set a goal throughout your day.

[Related Read: Financial Goal Setting – 6 Steps to Making This The Greatest Year Ever]

3. Shiny Things Syndrome

When you’re trying to getting things done, you have to actively prevent that you get distracted.

Don’t open your phone, social media, your banking/investing/news app, you name it!

Our brains are simply not wired to focus on something for a long period of time.

It starts to look for something else that triggers more than focused work. It starts to look for distractions.

How to Solve this?

Be aware of the space you’re working in. Try to eliminate potential distractions; schedule time to converse with your coworkers, put in your headphones, disable your phone and get to work.

What I’m also incorporate at this exact moment, yes I practice what I preach, is the Pomodoro technique.

If you haven’t heard from that, it’s a concept where you work 25 minutes of focused work and then have a 5-minute break. After 2 times of doing this, you get a 10-minute break. I used this timer for doing that.

[Related Read: Money and Confidence As a Way to Living Your Best Life]

4. Dreamer Lack of Action

You will find yourself daydreaming at times. About all the things you could do, all the businesses you could start or all the ideas that float around in your head.

You have so many brilliant ideas, but somehow it’s hard for you to bring them into practice.

For me, that’s mostly because of a lack of structure.

There is no specific action tied to this idea, no goal attached to it. It’s aimless, floating around in my head, without any sign of decision-making of significant delays.

How to Solve this?

Write down your goals, what you want to achieve and make a timeline for them.

Personally, I set my goals every month on the blog. For example here, in my monthly report, I evaluate my monthly goals and I have accountability to bring them into practice.

woman with flowers

5. Perfectionism

Perfection is something that I struggled with before, but I’m continuously working on it.

The subconscious fear of failure.

You’re putting off a task because you’re imagining that you’re getting negative results. There is no real proof that you will fail, but you’re telling yourself that.

This fear can sabotage your desire to move forward. Stop that!

If you’re not trying, you’re sure that you will fail. If you’re trying, it can either be a lesson or a success. It’s never a failure, remember that!

So what I’m basically saying is:

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

How to Solve this?

What really helps is first thinking about where this fear is coming from.

Is it rooting in something you’ve experienced before, or is it truly coming from things that your mind is telling you that is absolutely not based on the truth?

What you do then, is trying to think about completing the task in a positive way. Think about how people are going to love it, how it will bring you forward, and how accomplished you will feel afterward.

For example, you’re doing a presentation that you’re afraid of doing and you don’t want to prepare for. Think about standing in front of the room, looking everyone in the eye confidently and see them go along with your story as you do your presentation. Imagine your boss telling how great you did and imagine feeling accomplished afterward.

Hold that feeling, and start!

If I can do it, so can you!

If you’ve identified with any of the root causes of procrastination I mentioned above, I got a message for you.

I was there too. Thinking about all the things I wanted to do, never taking the first step.

Overwhelmed with all the things that could be done, never doing a single one of them.

I got distracted, didn’t have any prioritization, and I didn’t set any goals.

I want you to understand that it’s important to focus on the why. Why are you procrastinating? What are your root causes for procrastination?

When you find out your root causes for procrastination, you can implement the different strategies outlined above to move forward.

To be more positive and productive going forward. To experience less stress. Resulting in you becoming more efficient.

It’s simple, but no one said it’s easy!

What is are the root causes of procrastination for you? What your best way of solving it?

This article first appeared on Radical FIRE and is republished with permission.