Why do we procrastinate?

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“Stepping over the basket is much easier than folding the clothes…”

Have you ever put off studying and watched TV instead? Have you put off a crucial conversation with someone just because it was just too uncomfortable? Have you walked by a basket of clean laundry for days because you didn’t feel like folding them? Yes, I have done all those things, but everyone puts off tasks from time to time. But why? Is it because we struggle with self control? Is it because we don’t want to attempt something we are unsure we will do well? The answers are “yes” and “yes”.

In a Psychology Today article, the author lists three types of procrastinators: the arousal type (they like the rush they get by waiting until the last minute); the avoider (those who put off tasks because they are afraid they will be unsuccessful and will be judged by others); and decisional procrastinators (who can’t make a decision about what to do and if they don’t make a decision, they aren’t responsible for the outcome).

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No time for procrastination in the olden days…

No matter what type of procrastinator you are, one thing is certain; there are more things to distract us than ever before. Was there less procrastination in the olden days? Probably. If you procrastinated hunting, your family wouldn’t eat. Today if I put off grocery shopping, we get take out. Oh the luxuries of the modern age…

Change is hard and changing a lifelong habit is, well, extra hard. Personally, I like to focus on outcomes of procrastination to snap me out of my “lack of action”. Some examples:

  • Think of how much more I will enjoy the television show if I get my studying out of the way first.
  • If I don’t have the crucial discussion with a friend in a timely manner, the stress of eventually having that conversation will be looming over me.
  • And finally, if I leave the clean clothes in the basket instead of folding them and putting them away, I will either have to iron (yuck) or wear wrinkled clothes (double yuck).

And just so you know that the struggle is real, know that I am writing this blog the night before it’s due. I could have written it earlier, but that would not have made as dramatic an ending to this article, now would it…

 

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