Why We Procrastinate and How To Overcome It

I’ve been really putting off writing this article for a while. 😜 

Most of us struggle with procrastination from time to time. The most celebrated, and not-so-sustainable, reason excuse we procrastinate is that we tell ourselves we work well under pressure

Although this may be true, and some of us may even seek out the high we get from a large spurt of productivity, it can be hard on our bodies and minds. 

~I want to be careful here to not dismiss the reality of cycles. I am definitely a lunar cycle person, I cycle through periods of rest, inspiration, nesting, and taking action or adventuring.

That isn’t what I’m talking about. Being motivated by cortisol and adrenaline pumping through your veins is destructive & exhausting. Your body is literally borrowing energy from cells that need it to force you into action via stress. 

Schitts Creek Comedy GIF by CBC

Alexis panics when a decision is under pressure due to procrastinating

So, wwwhhhhhhyyyyy do we procrastinate? Is it because we are lazy, unmotivated slugs? 

Not typically. Why Else Do We Procrastinate?

One reason we may procrastinate is because we simply do not want to do the task. This is a great time to ask yourself:

 “Is this out of alignment with my life purpose or what I want for my life? If so, can I change course and eliminate the task?” 

By this I mean, are you doing a favor for a friend that you really don’t want to do so you are putting it off? 

Why are you doing it in the first place? 

Is it in alignment with your life purpose or are you people-pleasing? (That’s another can of worms to open and I can help you with that!)

Most People Procrastinate!

I procrastinate on housework as if not getting it done IS the objective. 

I hate housework. 

I call out to the gods, screaming that I am meant for more!! Putting off housework until it is a mountain to climb and I need my hiking sticks. My housecleaning ends with a spiritual ceremony including candles, music, and sage – it’s that dramatic. 

Although having a clean house may not be my life purpose, it is something that I want for my life, so I release self-judgment on this one, try to practice some discipline, laugh at myself AND my damn cycles.

That’s too easy & obvious… let’s move on to the MAIN reason we procrastinate.

**knuckles crack** 

We are afraid of whatever the task(s) represents. 

afraid the phantom menace GIF by Star Wars - Yoda smells fear when you procrastinate

The fear of failure or fear of being seen/rejected is often FAR greater than the desire to succeed or connect with others. This causes us to self-sabotage. 

We either procrastinate to the point of not doing anything at all because we can’t fail at something we didn’t do. 

Or, we procrastinate to the point where it was impossible to do our best, so how can we fairly be judged when we didn’t really try? 

This is how self-sabotage is also self-protection. 

This is the same type of fear that drives hyper-productivity. We buy into the idea that our self-worth is built on our performance. Causing us to either burn out our energy trying to over-deliver or we make last-minute efforts and under-deliver thinking we are protecting ourselves from our best being judged.

Here are 9 ways to get motivated and shed the weight of procrastination!

  • First, get real with yourself about WHY you are procrastinating. Once you have awareness around your procrastination, you can then mindfully make a decision on how you will proceed. 
  • If it is a mundane task that you are struggling to do, visualize how it will FEEL to have it done. Close your eyes, take a few mindful breaths, and imagine how good it will feel to get it done.
  • Chunk things down into a list and then write out time limits on each item. Ex: bathroom 15 minutes or TPS report 30 minutes. And then bang it out! Be sure to celebrate the completion of each task – this is super important and a gift to your subconscious.  
  • If visioning isn’t enough, get out of your head and into your body with a joyfulness practice. Turn on some music and dance for a song or three. 

If you are at work and that isn’t an option, try going into a bathroom stall with some headphones to blast a favorite upbeat song or out to your car for a karaoke session. Once you’ve elevated your energy, go make that mundane task your bitch. 

  • When procrastination is fear-based, the solution is more complex. Once you identify what the fear is and where it is coming from, be sure to show up and LOVE the part of you that is scared. Remind yourself that we are all scared sometimes and on the other side of that fear is exactly what is meant for you.
  • Ask yourself, “where am I in the process?” Focusing only on the need for an outcome or completion can cause panic and let procrastination take over. We shame ourselves for being at the beginning or for starting too late. What matters is THAT you started, not when or from where.
  • Redefine success. I think it’s Mark Manson who talks about action = success. If you are taking any action at all, you are already successfully working towards your goal. 

Also, this might be a topic for another day, but we often believe if we are the best/perfect then we aren’t good enough and that is just bullshit! 

  • Done is better than perfect!! Again, chunk things down. Write out all of the milestones or deadlines you need to hit and then the baby steps to reach those milestones. We overestimate how much we can do in a day and underestimate how much we can do over time.

 I do not remember the grades I got in each college class, but I do remember how good it felt at the end of every semester because holy shit, I did it!

  • Set a timer and do the thing. I had a client who was working to declutter her home, when absolutely no Jedi mind trick would motivate her, she would set a timer for 30 minutes and commit to only that time frame. Most times she was in a groove when the timer went off and she kept going, but sometimes not. 

So try setting a timer, even if it’s just for 10 minutes & see what you can accomplish. 

If you have mindset hacks that work for you, I’d love for you to comment below, If you are looking for a safe space to explore your fears, break through them, and have accountability in your life, let’s chat!! 

Coaching may be exactly what you need to tap into your personal power and take your life to the next level.