Why We Procrastinate

Updated: Jul 22, 2019

By Dianna Kasprzak

Most people procrastinate from time to time. Others find chronic procrastination to be their nemesis, keeping them from being productive on a consistent basis. If procrastination bothers you, this article is for you!

The key to overcoming procrastination is learning to identify and remove obstacles. It's that simple! When we find ourselves delaying getting a job done, learn to ask yourself, WHY am I putting this off? Here are some specific questions to ask yourself, to help move from inactivity to getting the job done.

Am I procrastinating due to a lack of information?

Procrastination has been described as a delayed decision. In other words, we know what to do (e.g., take out the garbage), but we delay actually doing it (let the garbage sit until it becomes smelly or spills over to the floor). But sometimes we delay an action because we don't have the knowledge or information to accomplish the task.

Example #1

Problem: I need to make an appointment, but don't have access to the phone number.

Result: I won't make the call.

Solution: Look up the phone number, ask a friend,or call another office/number.

Example #1

Problem: I want to clean my oven using non-toxic cleaners, but don't know how to go about it.

Result: The burned, spilled-over crud bugs me every time I open the oven!

Solution: Ask a friend, or do a search on YouTube, i.e., type in these words: toxic free oven cleaning. You'll be surprised at how quickly you can find the information you are looking for!

Am I procrastinating because I don't have the materials/supplies to accomplish the job or task?

In this case, we know what to do, but we are missing some necessary component to getting the job done. Unless the cost is prohibitive, this is an easy one to solve -- we remove the obstacle by obtaining what we need. Here are some examples:

Example #1:

Problem: Kitchen cupboards are cluttered.

Result: The clutter is taking the "joy" out of cooking, i.e., drawers that get stuck when opening, spice bottles that are inaccessible and/or out-of-date.

Solution: Use small boxes or purchase totes that fit inside your cabinets. Gather together the items that are alike and label the outside of the box. Mark the tops of small jars. Turntables are also make great organizers in your kitchen cupboards.

Spices are meant to be used, but can get overlooked (and old/outdated) when not easily accessible and retrievable.

Since I use a lot of herbs in my cooking, I have some organized alphabetically on turntables, and the miscellaneous spices in a basket. I simply pull the basket down and can easily grab the bottle I need.

Example #2:

Problem: Paperwork is taking over/my desk is in disarray.

Result: I can't find bills that need to be paid, graduation/wedding announcements to respond to, receipts for returns, warranty info on appliances, etc.

Solution: Identify what organizers would be helpful to bringing order to the paperwork part of your life. For example, here are some basic items you might find helpful:

  • Assign a "place" for paper items

  • Get a desk (if you don't have one), or use a small table that you can use as a dedicated desk area

  • File Folders, labels, fine-point marker

  • 3-ring binders

  • File Stacker Organizer

  • File Cabinet

  • Pencil/Pen Organizer

  • Totes, small boxes

  • Essential Tools: Scissors, stapler, markers, etc.

This can be one of the most challenging areas of our lives to tackle, because every single piece of paper requires a decision -- and decision-making is exhausting. It takes a lot of decisions to whittle down a stack of papers! But in the end, it is well worth it and brings a sense of calm to know that this area of our life has been organized, as well as the other rooms of our home.

Here is what my husband did with all the small physical clutter of his desk space. His drawer always looked this way. With the brilliant usage of discarded greeting card boxes and trays, his desk drawer stayed organized and became the grandchildren's favorite go-to place, while sitting on Grandpa's lap.

These principles of organizing can be applied to any area of your home. We can quickly organize areas with totes and bins, installing shelves, or purchasing second-hand bookshelves to be used for organizing.

Am I procrastinating because of time issues?

Sometimes we procrastinate because we have an inner sense that it indeed, will be a big job, requiring more time than we feel we can give in a day. In this case, we are not overexaggerating -- but it truly is a big assignment that doesn't fit into our normal daily routine. Here are some possible solutions:

Break the task down into smaller pieces.

For example, instead of tackling deep cleaning of the entire house, do just one room at a time. If this is also too big a task, then break it down further by doing parts of a room.

Ask for help or delegate to other family members.

This solution is so simple and when we enlist the help of others, the job goes faster, we can possibly save money, and we can have fun doing it as well. I remember the time we decided we would stain our house. it was a beautiful day in May and we worked together on the job. Our oldest son set up a portable radio and we listened to energetic music while we got the job done. (It was a windy day and we didn't cover the landscaping rocks next to the house -- so we ended up with speckled rocks and speckled clothes by the time we were done!). For more on delegating and enlisting the help of family members, see Overcoming Procrastination.

A third solution is to hire the work done.

If the funds are there, this can be the quickest way to resolve a situation, whether it be a repair job, painting, deep cleaning, window washing, or many of the other tasks that go into running a home.

When I resort to this solution, I'm satisfied to know:

(1) the job is getting done

(2) it will be done right

(3) I'm contributing to the livelihood of another person's family.

So when you're stuck, ask yourself the big question Why? Remove the obstacles and voila! you'll be so happy with the results! It can have a "new you" effect, as we transform from procrastination-proned people, to goal- and success-oriented powerhouses, living our lives with greater peace, joy and fulfillment.

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