“Why Am I Procrastinating?” | How To Stop Procrastinating & Find Your Focus
You’ve set your goal. You’ve got the idea. You know what you want to do. You can picture it, sense it, feel the excitement.
But you’re stuck.
Actually, you’re not even starting. And it’s leaving you wondering, why am I procrastinating?
Spot your signs of procrastination
- This probably sounds pretty familiar right now:
- You question every decision you’ve made
- You don’t complete the actions you’ve planned
- You make excuses about why you haven’t taken action
- You complete other tasks instead, telling yourself they’re the real priority
- You take twice as long to complete your work as you need to
“Why am I procrastinating?”
Knowing why you’re procrastinating is the key to unlocking more productivity.
You need to be able to understand the cause of your procrastination to overcome it. Each procrastination trigger will have a different cure, so try to dig deep here.
You’re doubting your abilities
You’re not starting because you don’t think you’re good enough to do it. You’re overthinking, and experiencing a lack of confidence and motivation.
All of which is leaving you wondering, am I good enough? It feels safer not to start, in case you find out that you’re not.
You’re not interested in this goal anymore
People change. Priorities change. And that’s okay.
This is where your procrastination can be a really useful tool, as it shows you that this specific task isn’t worth your time and energy. It’s not what you want to do anymore, so you’re better off focusing your energies elsewhere.
You’re feeling the pressure to be perfect
If you experience perfectionist tendencies, you know that your work will never be good enough. Because your standards are impossible (yes, that might be hard to read but it’s also the truth – you’re pushing yourself too hard).
This becomes even harder when you feel like you need to have a whole list of other tasks completed in order to “prepare”. The result? Analysis paralysis.
Your tasks get delayed and delayed and delayed. Because you can’t face the thought of beginning and experiencing that pressure.
You’re feeling the fear
What happens if you succeed? What happens if something goes wrong? What happens if things change?
You’re feeling the fear because you’re entering a new space where you won’t be able to control everything. Perhaps you’ll be exposed to new people and new opportunities. Maybe you’ll be asked to take on responsibilities that are new to you. You’re scared of the unknowns and they’re stopping you from starting.
You’re not clear on its purpose
Why are you doing this?
When you don’t know what you’re doing or why it matters, it can be hard to motivate yourself to start. Especially when a task’s been assigned to you by someone else.
You end up feeling stuck. Finding other things to do instead, as you just can’t see the point.
You haven’t got the energy
Sometimes, you just haven’t got the energy to complete the task. So your brain naturally gravitates towards tasks that are easier, that’ll give you a quick dopamine boost instead.
You seek the things that’ll make you feel accomplished, without using energy that you simply don’t have.
Why it’s (sometimes) good to procrastinate
Unpopular opinion alert: I firmly believe that procrastination can be a good thing.
Procrastination gives you the time to mull things over, possibly finding alternative solutions that might not have come to light if you’d started right away.
Whenever you procrastinate, your brain is trying to tell you something. Oftentimes, that “thing” is that this task isn’t important.
Your procrastination can show you that this isn’t the right path, it can help you check that you have the right tools in place to succeed and give you a gentle nudge to rethink your purpose.
When that happens, your procrastination is saving you time and energy. By stopping you from moving in the wrong direction.
If you could move past those cluttered thoughts in your head and start taking purposeful action, what could you do?
How to stop procrastinating (and work more efficiently)
Step 1: Spot the symptoms
You need to know what sits behind your procrastination in order to fix it. Because your procrastination isn’t actually the problem, it’s the cause of your procrastination that you need to work on.
Start by answering the question “why am I procrastinating?” and then work on overcoming it.
Step 2: Give yourself a deadline
It can take time to figure out what’s causing your procrastination. But if you allow yourself, your procrastination can run away from you. Leaving you none the wiser (and your tasks still sitting on your to-do list).
Set a time limit for your procrastination. Give yourself a deadline where you’re allowed to think and procrastinate. Then, once you reach the deadline, you need to make your decision and take action.
Step 3: Understand the root cause
Once you’ve decided what’s causing your procrastination, it’s time to take action to change it.
- If it’s confidence – look at how you can build your confidence through learning, self-empowerment work and mindset changes.
- If it’s a change in your goals – give yourself grace. Remove the pressure and take a step back. Allow yourself to adjust your plans, go through a reset and figure out your new priorities.
- If it’s perfectionism – look at what’s causing your perfectionism. Is it a fear of not being enough? The balance between perfectionism and procrastination can be a tricky one to navigate, a little bit of perfectionism can help you execute a high standard of work. Whilst too much perfectionism can leave you stuck. Try talking it through with a friend or colleague to see where you stand.
- If it’s fear – take a look at your fear within the context of the wider world. How can you ground it in reality? Try working through the fear-setting exercise to help you with this.
- If it’s a lack of purpose – be inquisitive. If someone else assigned you this task, talk to them about it. Ask questions to understand the impact it’ll have and how you can tackle it with your best energy.
- If it’s a lack of energy – it’s time to take a break. This could be a sign that you’re approaching overwhelm or burnout. Schedule some rest into your calendar and talk to your manager or your clients about readjusting your deadlines.
Overall, try to look at your procrastination through a lens of curiosity rather than judgement. With the right systems in place, you can use your procrastination as a learning tool for more focus, more direction and more action.
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About the author
Lisa is a mother, a business owner, a founder, and an executive leader. She's been through it all and has come out the other side to thrive. Now she's helping you to do the same! Learn how you can find clarity and support through her services for individuals and organisations.