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Why do we procrastinate?

Posted: 16/04/2014

Strictly speaking procrastination means to put off doing something, or the action of delaying or postponing something. All of us procrastinate to some degree. There’s nothing unusual about it. You might procrastinate about tasks that interest you the least like doing the housework, and put it off until you are having friends around for dinner and would feel embarrassed if your house wasn’t tidy. Or you might think that you ought to go to the gym but promise yourself you will go tomorrow. These kind of common day to day examples usually do not have much of an impact upon people’s lives.

Procrastination can highlight to you what’s important to you or not – after all, you probably don’t procrastinate over things you enjoy, or give you pleasure. It can also highlight to you what you might be struggling with personally – you might procrastinate about your work because you want to avoid being evaluated and this could signal that you really fear feeling a failure because it really knocks your self-esteem when you do.

Procrastination can be a sign of depression – if it is accompanied by a general loss and /or lack of interest and energy in doing things. It is also often about avoiding difficult or painful feelings, and because you may predict you would be worse off by action. Avoiding a sexual health check-up because of fear or embarrassment, or putting off confronting a friend who let you down because you fear they will reject you if you do. While it may seem illogical to put things off, you have to bear in mind that feelings such as fear and embarrassment can be very powerful and exert a lot of influence on how you act.

There are lots of helpful ways to overcome procrastination on your own and with the help of psychologists.

Robert Watson, Clinical Psychologist, Become Psychology

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