Define Procrastination and its Causes

Define Procrastination and its Causes

Procrastination, defined simply, is when an individual delays completing their tasks intentionally. Overtime, this turns into a habit as it is always easier to take the path with on resistance. It is very easy to fall into the trap of procrastinating, and the root causes of people doing so varies from individual to individual.

Whilst it should be easier to avoid these pitfalls if you are aware of them, more often than not we still commit the same mistakes. It is merely human nature to try to cover up our acts of procrastination by ascribing some other reason to why we are delaying our work. In order to overcome this bad habit, we must first acknowledge the problem for what it is, instead of seeking the lay the blame somewhere else.

Below, some of the common causes of procrastination are described. If you find them familiar, or a somewhat accurate description of your actions, thoughts and feelings, it is likely that you are a procrastinator. Like most bad habits such as tapping our foot unconsciously, it can be difficult to identify if we are procrastinating. A quick and honest talk with someone you trust who is often around to observe your behaviour will be able to highlight to you if you are procrastinating.

Fear is a huge driving and motivating force, be it fear of failure or success. People who are afraid to fail, are afraid to put in effort or to even try to attempt the task. It is easier to blame failure on their neglecting to complete the task, then on incompetence on their part to do so. Fear of success might seem far fetched, but there are those that fear change. They are happy where they are, and whilst they know that they are capable of doing better, the fear the change in position of job scope that comes with their improved capabilities. Hence, they would rather hide behind their apparent level of competence rather than put in the effort and succeed, as they fear being unable to cope with the new workload and expectations.

Overload and Inability to Prioritize
It is very common for an individual to be swamped with work. The to-do list seems never ending, and the tasks just keep coming in. The individual fears ever being able to complete anything, if not everything, and is unable to decide which task to start doing. This is similar to an inability to prioritise between the urgent and important, and what is less so. Also, in high stress and fast paced jobs all the tasks may be urgent and important, and that makes it more difficult because the individual does not know where to start. He may be scared off into not doing anything instead.

Poor Time Management
This occurs for two main reasons, namely an overconfidence in the person’s abilities, or an overestimation of the time available to complete the task. If a person is overconfident in his own abilities, he may risk putting off an important or difficult task to a later date because he believes that with his capabilities he will be able to finish it in time. However, this is seldom the case, especially as certain group projects may take more time due to lags in between. There may also be a sudden emergency situation that needs to be handled, thus leaving little time to complete the task. On the other hand, the other individual tends to stretch the number of hours available in a day unconsciously. He may plan his time without taking into account fatigue, meals or short breaks needed to keep the mind working at its peak.

An individual may also choose to procrastinate because the job is not challenging enough and he feels bored. He finds it difficult to concentrate on the task, and would rather be engaged in alternative activities. This is especially the case for jobs which are repetitive and lengthy, and require very little thought.

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