Putting things off sucks.
But what’s worse than procrastinating is everything that comes with it.
Chronic procrastination is less about time management and more about emotional management.
Yet society doesn’t see putting things off as a mental health problem, but more a productivity problem.
Because productivity leads to seeing results in the real world, the problems happening inside a procrastinator usually go unnoticed.
Highly effective people will never understand the constant struggle procrastinators deal with every day, yet we’re constantly reminded of these struggles even if others aren’t the ones reminding us.
Here are 9 procrastination facts we struggle with everyday.
1. We’re Unsure What We Need to Do
Procrastinators shy away from structure because they fear their life will become boring.
And if you knew exactly what you should do every second of the day, it would cause even more overwhelm, right?
It makes perfect sense that a daily routine of the same tasks would get monotonous. Or always knowing what to do next would only put more pressure on yourself.
The opposite is actually more true than you realise.
Having a daily schedule is one of the most valuable habits you can adopt to get more done in your life.
But if a procrastinator knew exactly what they should do, then it might make them feel worse for putting it off, so they fail to plan and they inevitably plan to fail.
Now, having a daily schedule and following a to-do list doesn’t have to take over your freedom, and it shouldn’t.
In fact, when you structure your day and complete tasks in an efficient manner, you create more freedom in your life and your mind.
Your day feels calmer and you appreciate your breaks and times of rest more because you don’t feel all that guilt for not getting anything done.
2. We Lack Vision
Vision is a pre-requisite of a daily schedule. You can’t really know what needs to be done today if you haven’t clearly defined your goals.
When the outcomes you want are flimsy dreams or ideas in your mind, you spend more time off course than on track to where you want to end up.
People avoid defining their vision because they fear it won’t come to fruition. They fear that they will fail.
And you can’t fail at something you don’t set yourself.
When Elon Musk formed SpaceX and defined his vision to colonize Mars, he said, “I always thought we would fail.”
So where most of us avoid defining our goals in case we fail and feel bad about ourselves, Elon Musk sets goals in spite of failure.
He truly believed it wouldn’t get as far as it’s come today, but here’s another quote that might inspire you to define your vision and not worry about the outcome.
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk
3. There’s Never Enough Time in the Day
If we don’t work from a vision of where we’re going and we don’t have a plan our days, then it’s likely we’ll get busy with tasks that aren’t getting us closer to our goals.
We’ll expect too much from ourselves and think we can get more done in a day that’s virtually impossible.
Then when it gets to the end of the day, we wonder where all the time has gone.
Procrastinators are always running out of time because they prioritise the wrong things.
But to prioritise the right things, we need to know what we should work on.
When we start our day with unclear intentions, we get lost in doing things we want to do instead of doing things we should do.
Every one of us has exactly the same time every day. It’s only the people who take responsibility of their time and priorities that get the right things done with time to spare to rest and recharge.
We can take more control of our time when we choose to do the hard things first instead of putting them off and choosing to do simple things that don’t move the needle.
If we take complete ownership and focus on completing one important task every day, we take back our time and achieve more by doing less.
4. We Make Excuses
Blaming how much work we get done on running out of time is just one excuse. But there are so many more excuses we can use when we don’t want to take responsibility.
Other excuses include:
- “It’s too hard”, or “I’m not very good at that”, and
- “I’m too busy”
When we make excuses, they may seem logical reasons to put things off until later, but this is just another way that procrastination gets us stuck.
Related: 8 Ways to Stop Making Excuses and Reach Your Goals Faster
5. Every Task is Uncomfortable
Sometimes we know exactly what to do and we make a commitment to do it.
A problem that often occurs with chronic procrastinators though is how uncomfortable we feel when working on important tasks.
The reason things seem unbearable is that of what it means to get these things done.
“The sooner I complete this assignment, the sooner I know I’m a failure.”
“Other people will judge me, the more I put myself out there in my business.”
“If I work on myself and change my life, what will my friends think of me? Will I lose them?”
All these thoughts and more could go on in the back of our heads without us even knowing it. All we feel is the discomfort of the task at hand, yet it isn’t the task that making us feel that way.
It’s the beliefs and stories we tell ourselves about what it means to achieve what we want.
When we realize the stories we tell ourselves, we can change them and the discomfort and uncertainty will subside.
6. We Compare Ourselves to Others
We all know people who are super productive and successful.
Even if we don’t know them personally, there’s plenty of them in the media or on our newsfeeds we can compare ourselves to.
When we look up to these people and strive to be more like them, comparing ourselves to others can be an effective way to improve ourselves and live better lives.
But when we consistently put ourselves down for not living up to other people’s standards, this type of self-comparison can become detrimental.
Most people want to share the positive side of success because it’s what motivates and inspires those around them.
People who consistently achieve their goals want others to do the same, but if they only ever show the struggle and downside of their lives, it could put people off from actualising their goals.
Being productive and successfully reaching our goals isn’t a straight and linear path. If it were so easy, then there wouldn’t much sense of achievement once we get there.
What makes achieving goals enjoyable is the journey we go on whilst working towards them. It’s the person we’re becoming that makes it all worthwhile.
If we are comparing our journey based on how others seem to do it, then we’re not really following our own path.
When we focus on the journey and the person we are becoming, we focus less on what other people are doing and compare ourselves to who we used to be.
7. There’s Always Something Better to Do
Procrastinating wouldn’t be a problem if all we needed to do were things we enjoyed doing.
Watching TV, playing games, or meeting up with friends is fun in the short term, but these things don’t really make up a fulfilling life in the long run.
There will always be more enjoyable things to do than getting in shape, writing an essay, reading a book, or working on your business.
But like I mentioned in #6, if our goals were easy, there wouldn’t be any long-term rewards and we wouldn’t see the value in them.
Doing things that provide instant gratification will always be there for us to do. We will never miss out on them because they’re things we can feel satisfied with in the short term.
But the longer we put off the things that take longer to achieve, the fewer things we’ll be able to achieve in life.
8. You Constantly Feel Bad About Yourself
Every procrastinator has an inner critic that always seems to know better and berates us for never meeting that standard.
That voice inside our head can make us feel pretty crappy about ourselves when we don’t manage it.
The issue that most procrastinators deal with is that it’s the continuous putting things off that make our critical self worse.
Which only makes us procrastinate more.
If only we forgave ourselves more often and stopped listening to the voice in our head, we might rest more often without feeling guilty.
9. You Struggle to Sleep at Night
All this internal conflict and battle of the mind to want to do things and then not do them can have a huge effect on our sleep.
Procrastinators struggle with sleep and insomniacs struggle with procrastination. It’s a perpetual cycle that we’re constantly trying to escape from.
We either toss and turn during the night or spend hours trying to drift off or even put off going to bed altogether.
Even when we do sleep, it usually isn’t quality sleep we need to have a clear mind throughout the day.
When we are mentally and emotionally drained, our decision-making skills suffer, which takes up more willpower.
And when we lack willpower, it becomes impossible to get the right things done, which causes more conflict in the mind and difficulties with our sleep.
If every day was a successful one, we would go to bed excited for the next and sleep would become an enjoyable part of our lives.
We all struggle with procrastination from time to time.
But for those chronic time wasters and putter-offers comes a much more internal battle that’s hard to beat.
How do you struggle with procrastination?
Let me know in the comments.