It seems most Americans struggle with procrastination at least occasionally. A simple google search will yield many promising solutions, and yet we still seem to be wasting time and regretting it.
Why do we procrastinate?
- You don’t like the activity or task. If you perceive something as unpleasant, boring, time consuming or difficult, it makes sense that you will avoid it.
- You have poor organizational skills or time management. Not prioritizing. Don’t accurately estimate how long it will take. Created poor work habits so doing things last minute feels like the only way you can work.
- You feel overwhelmed. You have a never ending to-do list. You’ve taken on too much and have more work than you can possibly finish.
- You doubt your abilities and expect to fail. It is normal to want to do things you are good at or can expect to be successful at. When you think you’ll fail, you be less likely to even try.
- Easy access to distractions that give immediate positive gratification. Technology has really increased this problem. Smart phones, social media, video games, or any other technological vice is so easy to access (usually right in your pocket) that it takes a lot of effort not to head for these forms of instant gratification. For me, eating is another easy form of distraction.
What about perfectionism?
Perfectionism can be part of the problem. You may struggle to get things started and/or finished because:
- You fear failure. If your standard is perfection, then “failure” is quite likely compared to the student who is shooting for a “B”.
- You fear criticism.
- You get caught up in the details. Revising and correcting prevents you from finishing tasks.
- You spend way too much time trying to make it perfect.
- You lose sight of priorities.
- You don’t want to look foolish so you don’t try things.
There’s an interesting paradox about procrastination among perfectionists. Most perfectionists get a lot done. They’re very driven and goal-oriented and seem to achieve a lot. Research by Dr. B.E. Caplan, published in 2010, found that perfectionists aren’t more likely to be procrastinators than non-perfectionists.
However, in my clinical practice, it’s not unusual for perfectionists to complain about procrastination. Procrastination is particularly bothersome to perfectionists. Because they set such high expectations for yourself, procrastination hits perfectionists especially hard. Procrastination becomes it’s own source of failure and perfectionists will criticize themselves harshly for it.
As you can see, this creates a no win situation: Perfectionists procrastinate out of fear of failure and then procrastination creates a sense of failure.
For tips on overcoming procrastination, please read my next post: 6 Simple Solutions to Cure your Procrastination.
Would you like to help us shatter stereotypes about men? Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.
Originally posted at PsychCentral.