Understanding Procrastination: What are its Causes?

Procrastination can lead to stress, anxiety, and a lack of productivity, and it can have a negative impact on our personal and professional lives.

5 Mar 2023
Joshua Ward
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≈6 minutes
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Procrastination is a term that refers to delaying or postponing tasks or activities that we need to do. It is a common phenomenon that affects many people, regardless of age, gender, or profession. Procrastination can lead to stress, anxiety, and a lack of productivity, and it can have a negative impact on our personal and professional lives. In this article, we will explore the causes of procrastination and provide some tips on how to deal with it.

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastination is a complex behavior that can have various causes. Let’s dive deeper into some of the reasons why we procrastinate.

  • Fear of failure. One of the main reasons why people procrastinate is the fear of failure. This fear can be paralyzing, making it difficult to start or complete a task. If we don’t start the task, we can’t fail at it, which may provide temporary relief from anxiety. However, this avoidance behavior only exacerbates the fear in the long run.
  • Lack of motivation. When we lack motivation, we tend to procrastinate. Motivation is what drives us to take action and complete tasks. When we don’t have a strong reason or purpose for doing something, we may find it difficult to get started. Lack of motivation can also stem from burnout, boredom, or a lack of interest in the task at hand.
  • Perfectionism. People who struggle with perfectionism tend to procrastinate because they feel that the task is not perfect enough or that they need more time to make it perfect. They may set unrealistic standards for themselves, which can lead to anxiety and a fear of failure.
  • Overwhelm. Sometimes, we procrastinate because we feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks we have to do. When we don’t know where to start or how to prioritize, we tend to put everything off. This can lead to a cycle of procrastination and increased stress.
  • Lack of time management skills. Poor time management skills can lead to procrastination. When we don’t plan our time effectively, we tend to waste time on unimportant tasks or get distracted by social media or other activities. This can make it difficult to complete important tasks on time, leading to stress and anxiety.
  • Lack of confidence. Sometimes, we procrastinate because we lack confidence in our ability to complete the task. We may doubt ourselves and our skills, leading us to put off the task or avoid it altogether.

Dealing with procrastination

Dealing with procrastination can be a challenging task, but it is essential for achieving our goals and improving our productivity. Here are some strategies for dealing with procrastination:

  • As mentioned earlier, identifying the underlying cause of procrastination is critical in dealing with it effectively. Reflect on why you are putting off the task and try to identify the root cause.
  • Often, procrastination occurs when we feel overwhelmed by the size of the task. Breaking the task into smaller, more manageable steps can help make it feel less daunting and increase our motivation to start.
  • Deadlines can be an effective way to combat procrastination. Set a realistic deadline for completing the task and stick to it. This can create a sense of urgency and motivation to complete the task on time.
  • Rewarding yourself for completing a task can be a powerful motivator. Plan a small reward for yourself after completing the task, such as a favorite snack or a short break.
  • Negative self-talk can increase feelings of anxiety and decrease motivation. Use positive self-talk to encourage yourself and build confidence in your ability to complete the task.
  • Distractions such as social media or email can interfere with our ability to focus and complete the task. Identify and eliminate these distractions to increase your focus and productivity.
  • Sometimes, we need help to overcome procrastination. Consider seeking help from a friend, colleague, or coach who can provide accountability and support.

Dealing with procrastination requires effort and commitment, but it is essential for achieving our goals and improving our productivity.

7 techniques to limit procrastination

These techniques include eating the frog, using the Pomodoro technique, time blocking, visualization, accountability partners, prioritizing tasks, and practicing self-compassion.

By implementing these techniques, we can reduce procrastination and increase our motivation, focus, and productivity. Each technique has its unique benefits and can be customized to suit our individual needs and preferences:

Eat the frog

This technique involves completing the most challenging or unpleasant task first thing in the morning. By tackling the most difficult task first, we increase our motivation and energy levels for the rest of the day.

Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that involves breaking work into intervals, typically 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break. This can help increase focus and productivity and prevent burnout.

Time blocking

Time blocking involves scheduling specific times for different tasks on your calendar. This can help you stay organized, focused, and on track. By dedicating specific times to certain tasks, you can reduce the temptation to procrastinate and stay accountable.


Visualization involves imagining yourself completing the task and achieving your goals. This technique can help you stay motivated and focused on the end result, making it easier to overcome procrastination.

Accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone who can help keep you motivated and on track. This can be a friend, colleague, or coach who you share your goals with and who checks in on your progress. Having someone to hold you accountable can help reduce procrastination and increase motivation.

Prioritize tasks

Prioritizing tasks based on their importance and urgency can help you focus on the most important tasks first and avoid procrastination. By identifying which tasks are most critical and require your immediate attention, you can avoid wasting time on less important tasks.

Practice self-compassion

Procrastination can be frustrating and stressful, but it’s important to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Remember that everyone procrastinates sometimes, and it’s okay to make mistakes. Be patient with yourself and take breaks when needed to avoid burnout.


Procrastination is a common phenomenon that can have a negative impact on our personal and professional lives. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as fear of failure, lack of motivation, perfectionism, overwhelm, and poor time management skills. However, there are several ways to deal with procrastination, such as identifying the cause, breaking tasks into smaller steps, setting deadlines, rewarding yourself, using positive self-talk, eliminating distractions, and getting help.

Additionally, there are several techniques to limit procrastination, such as eating the frog, using the Pomodoro technique, time blocking, visualization, finding an accountability partner, prioritizing tasks, and practicing self-compassion. By understanding the causes of procrastination and implementing these techniques, you can overcome procrastination and achieve your goals.

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