Why Do We Procrastinate?

Advice from a community college student:

“I was procrastinating all the time, so I started writing a journal and a daily planner. and this has turned it around.”

View Tim Urban’s famous Ted Talk “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator”

Is a procrastinator lazy? A lazy person is unmotivated. However, motivated people are often branded “lazy” when factors other than motivation prevent them from starting or completing a project. 

Does a procrastinator feels that his or her efforts may not be good enough? This is a reason for delaying that has nothing to do with laziness. This feeling can have many sources, including being highly sensitive, seeing many sides of an issue, or having been shamed for being “slow,” which is actually a sign of the deep learner. 

Does a procrastinator feel unsure about how to begin a task? This also has nothing to do with being lazy, unmotivated or unreliable. Many students learn nothing about self-esteem or project management; these skills are often assumed.

Many students suffer from anxiety, depression and such issues as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). These issues sometimes are labeled as laziness, yet they may be the result of trauma, incurred in early childhood or later in life, and which can be disabling even for a highly motivated student.  

It’s well known that almost everyone procrastinates sometimes. Society presents us with many “important” things we “must” do that are only for the money or for the approval of others. If so, no wonder we procrastinate. We would rather do better things. 

What of the person who misses deadlines seemingly just because they’re deadlines? Such a person may be rebelling against constraints even though he or she has chosen them. This person needs to reevaluate their commitments. 

Yet what if we postpone things that are really important to us? What if we delay relating to people who are close to us, ending a bad relationship, doing our creative writing or painting or music? This kind of procrastination is much more destructive than missing a school deadline. We should consider counseling to get us past such issues. 

A chronic procrastinator can easily lose track of their potential and fail to fulfill their promise. Their children are not going to see an example of someone who tries hard. They’ll see an example of a person who says “It’s all too hard” and “I’m too tired.” Then the child figures it’s OK to be too tired to get things done, because the challenges of life are too hard.  

Do you want your child to believe that?