Causes of procrastination

Sometimes it’s difficult to start large tasks

Think of all the times you have found excuses, justified something or were able to blame other people or circumstances for your inactivity. Unfortunately the required or desired tasks rarely go away and this just makes the situation worse. The last person we blame is usually ourselves. Do you want to be good at making excuses or good at getting results?

If we recognise the causes of procrastination then we have the opportunity to do something about it. Over the next two posts I will list the top ten reasons that I believe perpetuate inaction. The first five focus on the issues that may involve external influences and the second are more internal.  See if any of the following ring true with you.

Priorities. People who cannot sort out tasks and assign priorities to them often jump from task to task with little or no understanding of where they wish to end up. These people find it difficult to know what’s important, so they have a go at everything and end up with too much to do, and then continue to put it off.

Risk. People who are afraid to take risks procrastinate to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions. The risk of failing and destroying their dream, the risk of success which may force other changes in their lives or the risk of having to perform, such as getting a promotion and then not knowing what to do. Much of this is about staying in the comfort zone.

Dependence. Some people are unwilling to do things for themselves and don’t wish to be in a position where they’re responsible for their actions or results. These people depend on others to tell them, show them or help them with what is required in life. They will postpone significant tasks until there is someone to help them or do it for them. And of course if they fail they always have someone else to blame.

Responsibility. Some people will do just about anything to avoid responsibility. They will procrastinate and rationalise the delays by blaming others or making statements such as ‘this isn’t my responsibility’ or ‘this isn’t part of my job’. They have to be accountable for their actions and don’t want to expose themselves to the consequences of being wrong. So they do nothing.

Peer pressure. People who fear the opinion of others often procrastinate in order to avoid criticism or even approval. This often happens when the person wants to step outside the norm and create something different for themselves. The jealousies and inadequacies of others often push you to stick to the same path as everyone else. Everyone is safe in the middle of the herd.


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