The Generation Z Media Blog is now Archived. We are no longer accepting any submissions.

Last Updated:
Chalk board with inscription.
Chalk board with inscription.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Alyson Torino
Alyson Torino #society

According to Psycom, a resource for mental health, nearly 20% of men and women in the US are chronic procrastinators, and that procrastination is an issue humanity has faced for centuries. It is the last thing that we want to do, but somehow it ends up happening anyways. From a young age, we are taught to manage our time properly in order to complete all of our responsibilities on time, but people can’t control when they procrastinate. We rely on self control and motivation to get tasks done, but it's when those two things aren’t present that procrastination occurs. It is a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape, but the first step in doing so is figuring out the reason behind your procrastination. 

Lack of motivation is one possible reason someone may procrastinate.

As I stated before, motivation is what drives us to complete a task, so lack thereof would lead to the task not being completed. The cause behind lack of motivation is extrinsic motivation, meaning coming from an outside source. This is common among students in the form of teachers and parents. If the student themself does not want to complete their work, the motivation for them would come from their parents and teachers, which is not enough for them to complete their task.

Fear of failure and perfectionism is another cause to procrastination.

These examples go hand in hand since they are very similar in their root cause, which is a person’s work not being good enough. If someone is afraid of failing, then they will not be driven to complete their work since they don’t want it to be seen as mediocre. Similarly, if someone is a perfectionist, then they will want their work to be flawless. This will either cause the person to never start their task, or to never finish it, since it has to be perfect. 

Negative emotions are a large cause of procrastination, such as being overwhelmed or anxious about a task.

One becomes overwhelmed by a task when they think it is much too large, or when multiple smaller tasks pile up. This will cause a person to avoid their tasks and procrastinate them. Anxiety about a task is difficult to overcome because it creates a loop. Once a person becomes anxious about a task, they will avoid it, which will only amplify their anxiety about it, since it is not being completed. 

Optimism, however strange it sounds, contributes to procrastination as well.

Positive thinking, in terms of procrastination, refers to either the amount of time someone thinks a task will take, or one’s ability to complete it. This will lead them to believe that they won’t need to put much work into the task, which means they will wait to complete it. Because of this, when they actually do the task, it will become stressful when they realize they have not allowed themself enough time to do it well.

Disconnect from the future self, or temporal disjunction, is another cause of procrastination, and also happens to be mine.

It is when one sees their future self as a completely different person. This leads them to think that the task they have at hand is not their problem, but one for their future self to take care of. It becomes a way for them to deflect their responsibilities onto “someone else” and not worry about completing them. Speaking from personal experience, this ends up being a large problem when the due date for a task comes around and there is little to no work shown for it.

These are just a few of many causes of procrastination, and once you have identified why you procrastinate, you can then figure out how to stop. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Just start working. The hardest part of any task is getting started, and once you get that out of the way, you have a good foundation for quality work.
  • Break it down. The larger a task is, the less you will want to do it. Breaking a larger task into smaller ones will be a big help in staying productive.
  • Put aside possible distractions. Find yourself a quiet workspace where you can focus on your task. It’s not possible to eliminate every single distraction there may be, but putting away the ones you know will cause a problem will allow you to concentrate.
  • Stay positive! If you approach a task with a negative attitude, your work will not be at its best, and it will be harder for you to focus. If you stay positive while working, it will be much more enjoyable and the quality of your work will be better.

Procrastination is one of the biggest obstacles preventing us from reaching our full potential. Don’t let yourself be the one to stop you from making the world a better place.