Ten Reasons People Procrastinate
1. “Too many” interests. If you find lots of topics fascinating it’s easy to be distracted by something new before you’ve made much progress on the old topic.
2. “Too many” talents. Most subjects have many aspects to them. If you are good at a number of things you may be tempted to try and learn everything instead of deciding on one aspect and concentrating on that.
3. You are embarrassed by all the projects begun and dropped and afraid to start anything again for fear of adding to the list.
4. You are disorganized or overwhelmed by clutter—either in general or on this particular project. Most people will not engage in an activity their environment is not set up to support.
5. You really haven’t decided to do whatever it is you are procrastinating on. You may be uncertain of the right course or how to tackle a project and you are ‘solving’ the problem by allowing the window of opportunity to close or the deadline to pass.
6. You are rebelling against an external compulsion to do something. You are waiting for deadline pressure to increase the threat level to the point where fear replaces anger.
7. You are rebelling against an internal compulsion to do something. The pressure we put ourselves under comes from ‘internalizing’ the external pressure from others, first in our childhood and later from the people in our lives we find to echo those first messages. But unlike external compulsion, which usually involves a subject we find difficult or unpleasant, the internal compulsion is often to do something we actually deeply desire to do. Our rebellion, however, is at an unconscious level that responds to any kind of compulsion, whether positive or negative.
8. You are so afraid of failing that you would rather not even try.
9. You are so afraid of exposing your best efforts to outside judgment that you would rather wait until deadline pressure assures that you will not be able to put what most people would consider adequate time into the effort. This often feels like a ‘win-win’ solution. If you succeed in producing something superior despite the lack of time you can privately congratulate yourself on your competence: if not you have a good excuse for producing something slap-dash.
10. You are afraid of succeeding. Success can have downsides which are often unacknowledged in our failure-phobic society. It can alienate you from friends and family, inspire envy and even enmity. And it can produce guilt and anxiety in those who feel undeserving—or at least less deserving than others in their lives who may be unsuccessful.