You're afraid of failure.
It turns out that the cause of procrastination for many people is a strong fear of failure. This is known as "negative perfectionism."
Perfectionism is the belief that your efforts MUST be perfect, otherwise they are inadequate. Perfectionists procrastinate due to the realization that, most likely, their result will not be perfect, and therefore they will not be adequate.
Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can motivate people to achieve extraordinary feats. On the other, it can completely prevent you from doing anything.
If you feel yourself procrastinating because you think your efforts will be inadequate, lower your expectations! In fact, start working without expectations. It's the expectation of your efforts which is preventing you from working in the first place.
You're addicted to working at the last minute.
Working at the last minute creates an adrenaline rush that can literally be addicting. Many college students, who wait until the last minute before "cram" studying for a test, often find normal studying boring. The thrill of high-risk, high-demand work comes at a cost, of course.
Last-minute work is always inferior, and it often backfires. In order to break the cycle, it's important to start enjoying working early. When you do get good work done, and on a normal schedule, make sure to treat yourself and reinforce this kind of normal, positive behavior.
You're passive-aggressive about saying "no."
Are you able to turn people down? Are you able to tell someone "no?"
As simple as it may seem, many people have trouble asserting what they want and don't want to do. This is a common cause of procrastination.
Get in the habit of telling people "no" rather than procrastinate on doing something you don't actually want to do. Don't make unrealistic promises on deadlines. Don't tell people what you think they want to hear and then disappoint them.
Managing other people's expectations as to your efforts is a skill that takes time, but it is worth it.
You're overwhelmed and don't know how to "chunk."
Many people procrastinate because they don't know where to start and they feel overwhelmed. These people need to learn how to chunk.
Chunking is the process of breaking a task down to easily accomplished steps.
Here is some information on chunking. I recommend you start ignoring the entire project and start focusing on the next step you can take right now. In fact, your "To-Do" lists should not include any tasks that require you to do anything before they can be accomplished.
Stress can cause you to seek immediate symptom relief in the form of a little procrastination.
Procrastination is like a band-aid for work-related stress. It covers the wound, but it has to come off eventually.
What you should do instead is get rid of your stress in a more healthy manner. Guided meditation, massage, a good conversation, or a glass of wine can do wonders. Then, when you've recharged your batteries, you'll be able to work more confidently and stress-free.
You're talking too much.
Psychologists have shown that talking about what you are going to accomplish before you do it actually makes you LESS likely to accomplish it! In other words: Shut your mouth.
The reason for this strange phenonemon is that talking about it causes you to get a some of the reward for doing the task BEFORE you actually do it. Your brain subconsciously thinks: "Well, if I've already done it, why do it?"
So button your lip, get started, then brag about your accomplishments after they've actually been accomplished.
You're not thinking "long term."
Humans suffer from what's called hyperbolic discounting.
Hyperbolic discounting is when we discredit future rewards, favoring more immediate rewards. When asked if you would rather receive $50 now, or $100 a year later, many people went for the $50 now. However, when it was phrased as, "Would you rather have $50 four years from now, or $100 five years from now?" people would go with the logical answer: $100.
Hyperbolic discounting is the reason why procrastination is so tempting. It offers immediate reward. The long-term reward of getting the job done, and feeling considerably better, is pushed aside.
Keep hyperbolic discounting in mind when your brain tries to tempt you away from your efforts. It's a powerful force.
The words you chose to label yourself as have a profound effect. People who call themselves "procrastinators" have a more difficult time avoiding procrastination behavior. In fact, even if you are productive, you'll start to sabotage yourself!Psychologists call this concept "cognitive dissonance." Cognitive dissonance occurs when you believe one thing and experience another. So how do you become a "producer?" Read more
Procrastinators are great at coming up with rationalizations, lies, and excuses. "I'm too busy," they will say. "I'll get it done tomorrow." "I can't do it today. My feet hurt!" Whatever silly excuse a procrastinator comes up with, just ignore it and consider it a cry for procrastination help. And if you are dishing out these excuses - please. Stop lying, and stop making excuses. There are a couple ways to do this. Read more
The problem with to-do lists? We ignore them. In fact, we're so good at ignoring to-do lists, an entire industry of "getting things done" has cropped up in response to this need. The idea of a to-do list is simple. Keep track of what needs to get done. But it's so tempting to ignore to-do lists, because they include everything we DON'T want to do. Inherently, they are the most awful list in the world. So how can we fix this? Read more