The Real Reason We Procrastinate

Why do we procrastinate? Think about it. When was the last time there was something you plan to do? Then the time came and you got lost on YouTube or kept inventing ways to avoid it? Well, there are a lot of good theories about why we procrastinate. You might tell yourself, I’m lazy, or I’m sabotaging myself. But here’s the problem. If you put yourself in a box by labeling yourself as lazy, guess what? You’ll unconsciously do everything you can to prove that label, right. And if you tell yourself you sabotage yourself, you’ll use it as an excuse for why you procrastinate instead of finding solutions. So why do we procrastinate? Here’s a hint. David Burns says in his book feeling good, that every feeling you could ever feel is caused by your thoughts. He says that if you feel a pang of negative emotion, it’s not caused by what’s going on out there in the world, but by your thoughts. What does this have to do with procrastination? Think of it this way, your thoughts cause your emotions, your emotions cause your actions and then your actions influence your thoughts. So it’s this beautiful loop thinking, feeling, doing, thinking, feeling doing so self defeating thoughts lead to self defeating emotions and self defeating actions, then self defeating emotions and actions lead to more self defeating thoughts or to say it another way, and this might be worth writing down your emotions and behaviors are caused by your thoughts. So when you see yourself feeling a negative emotion or taking a self destructive action, you can ask yourself a simple question. What was the thoughts that came right before this emotion? And if that’s true, what would you make you think procrastination is any different, you’ve come to a time in your life where you know, it’s time to get something done. You don’t want to you resist it. You might not have realized it yet. But you now know what’s causing it. David de burns says in his book, that you just have to ask yourself, when I think about that undone task, what thoughts immediately come to mind, then write those down? When you do, he says you will discover something interesting. You will learn that the feelings that impede your motivation, such as apathy, anxiety, or the sense of being overwhelmed, are the result of distortions in your thinking. So what are some of those thoughts that are causing that feeling of discomfort that’s then causing your procrastination, let’s cover five of them mostly taken from the book feeling good. One is overwhelming yourself. You think of something you want to do like that big project, or doing a one hour hard workout, it looks like this big monstrous project, it feels hard, you do everything you can to avoid that discomfort, and procrastinate to confusing yourself, you think of something you want to do like to start your new business, you have no idea what smaller steps you’ll have to take you think about it, don’t know where to start. So do anything you can to avoid it. Three, undervaluing the rewards, you think of something you have to do, but don’t see all the benefits you get from doing it. When you think about it, you think about how hard or boring it’s going to be, even how you feel forced to do it. And you don’t think about all the amazing things that you’re going to get by doing the task, you don’t see the rewards. So you don’t do it. For fear of failure. You think about something you have to do, and picture yourself struggling to do it or not being able to finish it. Maybe you even tell yourself, I can’t do this or think about others criticizing you if you do it. So you don’t five perfectionism, you think whatever you’re doing has to be done to such a high, almost impossible standard, that you don’t want to do it at all. Some part of you thinks that it’s not better, it’s better to not even do it rather than try and not be able to meet that standard. You’re more interested in getting something perfect than in getting it done and you forget that perfect is the enemy of done. So you procrastinate. So if that’s what causes your procrastination, how do you get over it? Well, instead of overwhelming yourself with a task, you make it as easy and simple as possible. You ask questions like, what would this look like if it were easy? Instead of confusing yourself, you first make a step by step gameplan of what it takes to get a task done and you focus on only one step at a time. Instead of undervaluing the rewards. You choose to focus on how good it’s going to Feel to get the task done and all the benefits you’ll get from doing it. Instead of fearing failure, you picture yourself successfully completing the task. And instead of perfectionism, you keep reminding yourself that perfect is the enemy of done, and you put all your focus on getting it done. Instead of making it perfect. Don’t worry, we’ll cover these five steps later. So no need to remember all of this. But let’s do our first exercise together. Remember, when you catch yourself avoiding a task, you want to ask yourself what thought is behind this procrastination? Your first assignment is to think about something you’re procrastinating on now, the one thing that if you just got yourself to do it now would change everything for you. It’s probably been a mystery to you why you couldn’t get yourself to do it. Not anymore. Use the cheat sheet for this video, think of that task. And then ask yourself what thoughts or thought is behind this procrastination? Is it overwhelming myself confusing myself? undervaluing the rewards fear of failure, perfectionism. For example, I can’t get myself to start the essay I need to write for school. What thoughts are behind this procrastination? And maybe you say, I think of this task and see this as one monstrous size task I need to accomplish. And then you write next to it overwhelming myself, then maybe you think I also have no idea how I’m going to go about writing it. Like what do I need to do specifically, and you’re right next to it confusing yourself, then maybe you think I’m not thinking about what I’m going to get for getting this done. And I’m picturing myself struggling while writing the essay. So you write next to it undervaluing the rewards and fear of failure. Or maybe you think of getting an A on the same picture, this beautiful essay that you need to write and you’re right next to it. perfectionism. The first step in overcoming procrastination is being able to identify what’s causing your procrastination. You’ll want to turn this into a habit of asking yourself what thoughts are causing this procrastination for now, just practice with one thing you’re procrastinating on use the cheat sheet. Think of something you’ve been avoiding doing and start meeting the thoughts behind your procrastination.