Why do you procrastinate and get frustrated because you struggle to get things done?

Maybe you procrastinate on household chores, mundane errands, getting started on new projects, writing lists – maybe you’re even procrastinating by reading this article right now.

I’m better now, but occasionally I still fall short in this department. I’ll revert back to old procrastination habits and patterns. But truly understanding why I procrastinate has helped pull me from the depths of the procrastination trap that much sooner.

Keep reading to learn why you can’t stop procrastinating and what you can do about it.

1. Your procrastination is your protection.

This is both a danger and a positive. It protects us, so it keeps us safe. Now, we can’t blame it for that, can we? But there comes a point when being overly-protective becomes harmful.

If you’re having trouble getting motivated to tidy your desk, organize your inbox or tackle that overwhelming pile of ironing, then it’s probably because your procrastination is protecting you from the stress you’re feeling in your already busy life.

This danger also causes us to delay anything that allows us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. We make every excuse to put off goals that trigger our fears.

What to do about it:

Your job is to figure out what your procrastination is trying to protect you from. Is it chaos, stress or boredom? It is failure, embarrassment or responsibility? Which fears stop you from actually getting started in the first place?

Once you’re clear about this, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is my fear protecting me from something real or something that is perceived?
  • Does avoiding it protect me from stress or contribute to it?
  • Is my delay in doing things helping or hurting my future?

Self-awareness is a powerful thing. Become aware of a problem and you can change it.

2. You have no focus.

Let’s say you’re having a really hard time getting started on your goal because it feels too big and you think you’ll never achieve it. I feel this way with some of the goals I set for myself. Because when we focus on the big picture it can paralyze us. It can prevent us from taking action.

When the goal is too big or the task is too daunting, it means we do nothing. But you’ve got to realize something: doing something drastic does not result in a positive change. Reaching our goals comes from the small, consistent actions we do every single day. That’s what leads us to success.

What to do about it:

Break your goal down into small starting steps until the stress and anxiety you feel disappears. Even if your list is a foot long – it doesn’t matter. Only focus on the bigger goal if it’s to help you determine what the smaller actions are. If you only focus on the big picture, you’ll lose your energy and you’ll take no action.

Another trick for this is to focus on the result instead of the task itself. For instance, instead of focusing on the task of weeding your garden, focus on the result that having a weed-free garden will bring: a simplified, bright and beautiful space for you to relax. Which gets you more pumped?

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3. You’re convinced it’s harder than it will be.

There are so many times when we procrastinate. But sometimes you can do it for so long that when you get around to doing whatever it is you need to do, you realize you’ve wasted more time complaining about it than it would’ve taken to do in the first place.

This happens because our mind tricks us into believing that something is much harder, time-consuming and more difficult than it actually is.

What to do about it:

There are two things you can do here:

  • Focus on the smaller task at hand. Like we said before, your brain will think a task is bigger than it is because it focuses on the overwhelming big goal. Break it down until it’s so small that it doesn’t overwhelm you.
  • Be intentional and prepared. For instance, instead of just sitting down to answer emails, make the activity intentional. Light a candle, get your desk set up and put some music on so you’ve created a positive environment. By being intentional, your task becomes more enjoyable too.

4. You lack interest.

Sometimes we tell ourselves we put off important work because it bores us to tears. Maybe it’s doing your monthly finances or household paperwork. These things might be boring but they’re extremely important and shouldn’t be avoided. The reality is that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. It’s all part of being a grown-up.

What to do about it:

You can use some of the tactics we’ve already mentioned to help you accomplish tasks you don’t want to do. Let’s say you’ve got to organize a lot of household bills. You can prepare for the task by getting the supplies ready you need for the job and carving time into your schedule to complete the task. You could also find a TV show on Netflix, light a candle and get yourself a glass of wine. Who said boring tasks had to be boring?

5. You want things to be perfect.

I used to think being a perfectionist was a good thing. Unfortunately, perfectionism still rears its ugly head from time to time but I’ve learnt that it doesn’t have to prevent me from getting stuff done.

It’s so important to have high standards for everything we do, but there’s a point when perfectionism becomes really harmful to our success.

What to do about it:

Perfectionists need strict deadlines. Be realistic in giving yourself a timeframe to complete the task and then honor the time you’ve set.

You also need to decide when good enough is actually good enough. Don’t agonise over every tiny detail. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough. Nothing is perfect. Don’t wait.

Perfectionism stems from a belief that we’re not good enough. So show the world you are good enough and don’t procrastinate trying to prove it.

If you’re a procrastinator, know that you’re not alone. Nearly everyone procrastinates to some degree. Having the self-awareness to know the root cause of your procrastination can make all the difference.