Woman sitting in front of a laptop

Are you working from home? You might start to avoid doing important tasks and deliberately looking for distractions, getting into a common procrastination trap.

Procrastination is an active process and can be beaten but you need to understand what is hidden behind and why you delay and postpone important task in the first place.

So, if you know how our brain “thinks” about procrastination and why we are inclined to avoid doing things we perceive as difficult, you can go one step further. The step

The next step is to understand what and how emotions trigger procrastination.

Tim Pychyl (Carleton University, Canada) and Fuschia Sirois (University of Sheffield, UK) have suggested that procrastination comes from the lack of ability to manage our emotions, not our time.

Let’s look deeper into our emotions that support and empower procrastination.

Fear is the first reason

The fear of doing things badly or in the wrong way is the most common fear.  

“Fears and assumptions about feedback often manifest themselves in psychologically maladaptive behaviors such as procrastination, denial, brooding, jealousy, and self-sabotage“, explain the authors in an article published in Harvard Business review, and continue: 

“ (..) rather than seek feedback, people avoid the truth and instead continue to try to guess what their bosses think”. 

The fear of being ridiculed is also a strong feeling one can use as an excuse. We can delay completing a certain task because we feel that not meeting a certain goal means that there is something bad or wrong within ourselves. 

The fear of being ridiculed and self-sabotage are connected. Both are unconscious behavior and all too common, especially at the workplace. 

When employees are faced with negative feedback, they tend to gossip and spread malicious rumors about their supervisors and management. Certainly, this is one of the reasons managers are reluctant to provide feedback. However, the same can be said about the management when faced with negative criticism or an opinion that is different from theirs.  

In such a scenario, the work environment becomes unpleasant and dysfunctional, and all characters are caught in the vicious circle of lack of feedback and responsibilities. 

Procrastination then leads to the increase of fear, thus making us scared of both internal voices and external criticism from peers and authorities. 

The higher the fear – the more we procrastinate. The problems arise because we allow our thinking and reactions to be ruled by these growing fears.

Lack of interest and motivation is the second reason

Lack of interest and motivation makes us postpone important things. 

When people are not motivated, they can easily fall into the trap of creating a mindset that stops them from completing the simplest tasks. 

We convince ourselves that we hate doing these tasks, so each time something similar needs to be done, negative emotions are triggered. Soon enough, we create a negative environment that stops us from doing any meaningful work. 

We keep on postponing tasks until our procrastination reaches its peak. 

Dissatisfaction, uncertainty, resignation, and annoyance hardly make a recipe for a healthy workplace. 

How to deal with procrastination at work?

There is a growing body of research that looks into ways to beat procrastination. From very practical suggestions to mindfulness meditation, scientists are trying to understand it better to be able to help people to start recognizing how anxious, and overwhelmed procrastination makes them feel. 

When it comes to activities related to any business, procrastination at work can be rather costly to you and to your company. 

You can end up being late with your tasks day after day. 

The deadlines are missed and your company starts losing money. 

You can send the wrong message to your coworkers or management. 

You can become scared to give or receive feedback, communicate openly or express your opinion without fear of being misjudged or wronged. 

You can easily get used to passive-aggressive communication. 

But before you start panicking how you may even lose your job because of procrastination, you should know that there are effective solutions that can banish procrastination for good.