Why you keep procrastinating – and how to stop it

27 Feb, 2024 | Mind

5 Minute Read

Words by Kelly Foster

Share this article…

Illustration of hand helping someone struggling with anxiety

The good news is procrastination isn’t laziness, it’s unlocked potential.

The bad news, as Kelly Foster discovers, is you’ll never have an excuse not to do something again.

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something, which is exactly what I’ve been doing when it comes to writing this article. How very apt!

I think it is safe to say that at some point within our lives we have all experienced a form of procrastination, that feeling where you know you have to do something, yet you busy yourself with a lot of other tasks rather than actually doing it

The trouble with procrastination, is that it doesn’t make you feel great. Maybe there is momentary relief but that is usually replaced by drawn-out feelings of anxiety, guilt, stress and frustration, none of which are good for your mental health.

By creating an ever-growing to-do-list you can end up with even more piling up on your plate. Why on earth do we do it to ourselves? Why not just save all that wasted time and energy and just get that nagging job done in the first place?

So, what causes you to procrastinate?

It’s estimated that around 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators. With students it can skyrocket to 80-90% as an average. So, the good news is you’re not alone.

The one thing the experts seem to agree on is that procrastination is not linked to being lazy. There are varying factors that can play a part from mental health, personality traits and those who have a neurodevelopmental conditions. But there are coping mechanisms that could work for you.

The 6 types of procrastination, and how to overcome them:

There are said to be six main types of people who procrastinate with practical tips for each personality group to help them overcome it.

1. The Perfectionist

Do you have to make sure that what you are doing is done perfectly, meaning you simply run out of time to get everything finished? Do you even prolong tasks because you are worried about them not turning out exactly how you want.

Things to consider

  • Try creating a realistic and firm timeline that doesn’t allow too much time to overwork a project.
  • Rephrase the way you think of things. Instead of things that you ‘have to’ do think of them as things you ‘want to’. Things don’t have to be perfect –re-frame them as being excellent or a job well done.
  • Celebrate yourself when you complete a task, whatever the outcome.

2. The Dreamer

Do you crave variety and tend to glaze over the finer details. This can create difficulty when facing a key task. Dreamers are full of wonderful ideas but it is the finer details that prevent them coming to fruition.

Things to consider

  • Create realistic smaller daily tasks and tell yourself you will ‘try to’ do them rather than you’d ‘like to’ do them.
  • Create a clear, detailed timeline for your project, get specific with the steps on how you wish to get to the end and the exact steps you need to take. Voicing this with someone close to you will help.
  • Set yourself deadlines that are appropriate and let others know about them to hold yourself accountable.
Illustration of woman struggling with mental health

3. The Worrier

Worriers are those who are driven by fear of failure, judgement, lack of confidence and a worry about change. The phrase ‘what if’ may find itself lurking in the head of a worrier. Sound familiar?

Things to consider

  • Try and get to the root of your fear, this can be through discussion or by writing it in a journal. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen, and work backwards from there.
  • If you find yourself going round in circles with a task and saying ‘I don’t know’ stop and ask yourself, what is something you DO know about the situation and build on that.
  • Break larger jobs down into more manageable tasks you can tick off daily.
  • When you have something, you need to do, create the end goal, then create small steps and outline exactly what you need to do for each one to reach the end.
  • Try and push yourself outside your comfort zone frequently. Start by doing it once a week and build on that.

4. The Crisis-maker

Are you an adrenalin seeker? Crisis-makers live for the thrill of ignoring a task then feeling swept away and consumed by it as the deadline looms. Without that rush tasks can appear boring and unappealing. You may tell yourself, ‘I work best under pressure’ or ‘I’m good at fire-fighting’ but it can make it hard for those around you.

Things to consider

  • Find something to motivate you other than stress.
  • Set yourself mini deadlines before your official deadline to create a more natural adrenaline rush.
  • Remind yourself that although something may appear humdrum the satisfaction will most likely come once you get involved with a task.
  • Try to keep how you think about a task neutral and calm.
Illustration of woman struggling with mental health

5. The Defier

The rule breakers don’t like being told what to do and like to challenge authority in all aspects of life. You tend to maintain control over any situation and may find yourself asking why you should do something when first asked.

Things to consider

  • Act rather than react. Consider your response before you give a reaction to a task, and ask yourself why you often push back straight away.
  • Set yourself your own weekly goals that you can complete in your own way to satisfy the need for individuality.
  • Remind yourself that often if someone is asking you to do something, it’s a request not a demand.

6. The Overdoer

The overdoers are those who struggle to ask for help. You find it hard to relax without guilt creeping its way in and end up procrastinating because you have committed to too much finding it difficult to prioritise. No wonder you end up feeling totally overwhelmed with too much to do.

Things to consider

  • Try to set yourself limits.
  • Saying no isn’t a bad thing – practise where and when appropriate.
  • Remember you have options and obligations. Learn to separate the two.
  • Make to-do-lists that focus on making the most of the time you have to give.
  • Remember to ask for help if you need it, that is not failing.
  • Make time for yourself and the things you enjoy too.

Share this article…

Whilst WYLDE MOON consults with experts, no advice should replace that of your registered doctor. As such, the information we publish is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider for any medical conditions, and never disregard professional medical advice because of information you have read from WYLDE MOON.

By participating in programs such as the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program WYLDE MOON may make affiliate revenue if you buy a recommended product, but we only recommend the absolute best in the eyes of our experts.

You may also like…

10 ways to show yourself the love you deserve

10 ways to show yourself the love you deserve

5 Minute ReadWords by Kelly FosterShare this article...Practising self-care is vital for your mental and physical well-being. Kelly Foster discovers how to get started. How often are you the last person on your list of priorities? Do you always...