You’ve probably done it a few more times than you care to admit.
I know I do.
The worse part about it is that it affects the final outcome.
That said, one of the best ways to fix a problem is to find its root source.
That’s why you’re here.
Below is a list of things that cause you to procrastinate. By being aware of them, and their potential solutions, you’ll be able to see it as it rears it’s ugly head.
This will let you stop it in its tracks, making you more productive in life and work.
One of the main causes of procrastination is FEAR…
Often, it comes in one of these two forms:
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of failure
I was watching the TV show SEAL Team the other night, which is a show about the Navy’s elite team of operators who go into the most dangerous missions.
In this episode, the team’s leader tears his hip labrum during a mission. As a result, he’s hobbling around and can’t join the team when it’s sent out.
What’s worse is that the tear requires surgery.
Now, these guys are the toughest of the tough. They’re cool as a cucumber even when bullets are coming at them and things around them are exploding.
Yet, when it was time for him to go under the knife, he kept postponing it.
Like a child who keeps going back to their parents, not wanting to enter the door, during their first ever day of school.
It was fear of the unknown. And to a degree fear of failure.
Anything can happen during surgery. And, if it fails, his career as a Navy SEAL, a great one at that, is over!
Does this sound like anything you’ve experienced?
I know I’ve put things off because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. Or, that I wasn’t sure what would happen in the end.
You’ve probably experienced it as well a few times in your life.
Sadly, ignoring the situation or using the old adage, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” doesn’t work here. In fact, it’s often the opposite.
Bottom line, it doesn’t help to set things aside just because you’re afraid of it or it’s results.
In the end, the Master Chief went into surgery, which was a success, which means he’ll literally live to fight another day.
You Don’t Like Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
This is another thing I’ve been guilty of.
I still remember when I started blogging.
I felt so uneasy, in part because I was never a good writer. In school, I always preferred the math and science classes. Probably because I’m more of a numbers guy.
As such, writing a blog post, and putting it out there for everyone to see was nerve wracking.
What’ it I’m not good enough?
What if my writing sucks?
What will people say?
In addition to that, I was an introvert. This meant I didn’t really like going out of my way to meet new people.
Unfortunately, that’s the very core of blogging.
Long story short, it took me a while before I “forced” myself to do these things.
And looking back, I do regret waiting to do so. Jumping right in would’ve allowed me to see that I could do it.
And it those situations where I couldn’t, it was just all about figuring out where I needed to improve.
As a beginner blogger, you probably have a few things that can put you out of comfort zone.
Maybe it’s writing or the technical stuff…
Whatever it is, don’t let it hold you back from starting a blog.
Pro Tip: I’ve found that in this situation knowledge is power. By seeing exactly how the pros do it, you’ll get more confidence knowing what you need to do. That’s because you’ve seen it firsthand.
One of the best ways to do that is to take good blogging courses.
Speaking of which, if you need a step by step guide to starting a blog, see
Leaving Things for Later
This is very much related to the previous point, probably because we have difficulty with discomfort.
Human nature (and our brains) always try to find the “easiest path”.
That’s why your body compensates for the weaker part.
If you’ve ever tried working out, you know that your strong side always “helps” your weaker side. That’s why we’re all so dominant on one side and don’t really know how to use the other.
As a test, just try writing with your off-hand… even just 1 sentence.
You probably can’t write legibly with it, right?
In contrast, you can keep writing with your dominant hand.
That’s why we like “leaving things for later”.
But for the most part, why we do so comes down to three reasons.
- It’s difficult, so you put it off for later
- You don’t like doing it. As such, there’s something more enticing or fun to do besides that.
- Habit. You’ve gotten used to doing it. And, probably have been leaving things for later for a few years now.
Often, you’re able to set it aside for now because there’s still time.
But the moment you realize time is running out before it’s due or the deadline passes, you start procrastinating.
Doing Easier Tasks First
Because you put off the harder things (and those that make you uncomfortable) for later, you end up doing the easier (often more menial or mindless) things first.
Maybe it’s guilt?
Or maybe you know you have to do something, but don’t want to do the tougher tasks, so you end up just doing anything.
I know I’ve done this a few times.
I remember back in school when I needed to do my final thesis.
I knew it would take a lot of time and research.
But, I also knew I had almost an entire semester to get it done.
So, whenever it was time to sit down and write, I found an excuse to do something else that was “useful”.
In the end, it crammed the thesis near the end of the semester. Not a fun experience at all!
While easier tasks are simpler to get done, they often don’t really get you where you need to go.
It’s the harder, more challenging tasks that make you improve and progress towards your goals.
Trying to Be Perfect
You and I are both guilty of it.
But why do we try to make things perfect.
One reason I do so is when I know something is important or it’s for someone I care about.
…And, you probably do too!
When it has something to do with your finances, career, loved ones or your future, you try to make things as perfect as possible.
That’s why you couldn’t decide what to wear on your first date with your big crush.
Or, why you kept changing (and changing) the look and design of your website.
Another reason is fear of making a mistake or exposing your weakness.
You want to make something as perfect as possible to impress other people.
This could be your in-laws. (To prove to them that you’re worthy of their son or daughter)
It could be something you submit at work to show your boss and co-workers that you belong in the company.
Because it has the word “perfect” in it, many think that perfectionism is a good thing. But, from experience, it often has consequences in work, including blogging.
Having Expectations That Are Too High
Like perfectionism, expectations that are too high can be detrimental.
In this case, it’s because they can put an undue amount of pressure on you.
This makes you stress more than you normally would.
And, when you don’t meet those expectations, you get discouraged.
We’ve all been there.
One way to make sure that you don’t put yourself in this situation is to make S.M.A.R.T. goals.
- Specific – make sure your goals are clear and defined
- Measurable – have a way of measuring your progress and your goal
- Achievable – something that’s attainable, not over the top or impossible to achieve
- Realistic – something that’s practical and within reach
- Timely – have a timeline, including a deadline for when the goal should be accomplished
Altogether, these guidelines will help you set goals that aren’t too high or unattainable. That way, you don’t end up with unrealistic expectations that put you in a no-win situation right from the start.
In some cases, you may procrastinate because of overwhelm.
For me, overwhelm comes in two forms:
- When a single task is so big or daunting that it overwhelms me
- There are many smaller tasks that add up to be overwhelming
The latter was the case when I started blogging.
For better or worse, I like to plan. Often, too far in advance.
As such, when I started blogging, I tried to read and learn everything I could get find on the web.
As you can imagine, that’s a lot of information…
There’s SEO, email marketing, content marketing, social media, audience engagement just to name a few.
Next thing I knew, I was overwhelmed by the number of things that you needed to learn and do just to make money blogging.
The one good thing that came out of this was understanding how to prevent overwhelm, at least for me…
Try this the next time you feel overwhelmed.
Write down the the thing that’s making you feel overwhelmed.
- If it’s a big project, list down the steps one by one, from start to finish
- If it’s balancing your work and life schedule, list down everything you need to do
From there, pick out the things you should be doing or need to get done NOW.
The rest of the list will be a reference for the future.
At the moment, you’ll only focus on the things you need to do NOW.
Doing this helps reduce the number of tasks you need to juggle. In doing so, it eliminates overwhelm.
You Don’t Know What to Do
One thing that can keep you from starting to do things is not knowing what to do.
This happens when…
- You’re wondering where to start.
- You don’t know what the next step is.
- You’re not sure if you should do this or that.
When this happens, YOU STOP.
Like a deer in the headlights, you hesitate and can’t move.
You don’t want to waste your time.
That’s what happens when you do or choose the wrong thing.
You can spend minutes, hours, days or even weeks on something that turns out to be worthless.
In some cases, it could be a lack of confidence.
While you may know what to do, you don’t have the confidence in yourself to do it.
So, you’re afraid to dive in.
You Don’t Know How to Do It
If you do know what to do, you may still procrastinate because you don’t know how to do it.
- You may be new at it
- It may be beyond your skill level
- You’ve never seen how it’s done before
These are just some reasons why you may not do something now.
So what should you do?
I’ve found that when you’re faced with situations where you don’t know what to do or how to do something breaking things down to their simplest tasks helps.
- Start by writing down all your options
- Decide which tasks make sense and which don’t
- Start by looking at the tasks you can do right now
- If you find a specific task you’re not familiar with, seek help. You can start with the internet. Then, go find someone who’s an expert at it, there’s bound to be one near where you live.
- Organize the tasks
- Start doing the tasks, focusing on up to 3 tasks at a time only
Lack of Motivation
At the core of motivation is value.
That is, if something is valuable to you, or the outcome is valuable for you or your future, you’ll be motivated to act.
Otherwise, it’s easy to lose motivation.
When you’re not motivated enough by what you’re doing, you’ll be more likely to leave it till the last minute.
That said, this motivation only lasts up until you hit a setback.
Setbacks are what make you lose motivation.
In fact, this is the #1 reason most bloggers fail or quit.
After a year or two, when their blog isn’t making any money or earning enough of it, they stop.
It makes sense, right?
It’s not working. So, you’re better off doing something else, especially if it’s for your living.
Distracted By Other Things
You sit down on your computer ready to work.
…And you start working for an hour.
Then you get an email alert, so you read it.
Next thing you know, you’ve spent the last 30 minutes going through your email.
By the time you’re done, you’ve wasted another half-hour.
This leaves you just a few more minutes to finish the work you were doing before it’s time to pick the kids up from school.
Guess what, you’re now procrastinating to get the work done.
Thanks to the digital age, it’s so easy to get distracted.
That’s because today, we’re “connected in real-time”.
This means you can easily be distracted by a text, social media, email, chat and so many other things.
The only way to prevent distractions is to know what they and how to avoid them. This can mean:
- Finding a quiet place where you can focus on what you need to do
- Turn off your phone
- Turn off alerts
- Wear noise-canceling headphones
Lack of Focus
Lack of focus is very similar, yet different from easily being distracted.
While distraction comes from external factors, lack of focus is internal.
Often, it stems from “being all over the place” or “trying to do everything”.
I remember when I started blogging.
I was focused with blogging, yet there wasn’t a lot of focus.
I recall chasing all sorts of shiny objects that the latest blogging guru mentioned.
I’m sure you’ve been at least tempted by one of those, “How I Made $10,000 in my 6th Month Blogging” or “How I Grew My List to 100,000 Subscribers” articles, right?
When it comes to lack of focus, it’s just about discipline.
Having blinders isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it helps you stay on course.
That’s the case here.
You Feel Lazy
This is one of the most common causes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an excuse.
For some of the others on the list, you can still blame human nature, your brain or some other thing.
But being lazy is on you (if you decide to go that way).
Interestingly enough, it’s easy to assume that some people procrastinate because they’re lazy. But often, there’s some underlying reason why.
Maybe they’re not just that interested…
Or, they don’t like doing it.
I remember rooming with a guy when I attended a pre-college summer program. He was super smart but seemed just as lazy.
All he ever brought to class was a pen. He never took notes.
On non-STEM classes he’s often be asleep or chatting away.
As it turns out, I underestimated his brain power. He was actually one of those genius kids.
While he never took notes or listened, he always scored the highest in our STEM classes.
As for the non-STEM classes, he was average, mostly because of his laziness.
But, that all changed the moment we hit high-level programming and the guest speakers came from Google, Apple and the like.
His eyes lit up. He started listening. And he asked questions that only the speakers understood.
The lesson here is that nobody’s really lazy. It’s all about their motivation, interests and what they need to do.
If they like something or are interested in it, they’ll suddenly stop being lazy.
As such, they key is finding the right motivation.
Fatigue and low energy levels go hand in hand.
One may cause the other and vice versa.
But, they both can make you put things off for later.
That said, being tired isn’t always an excuse for procrastination. That’s because it may be from your own doing.
For example, you can be tired because you stayed up all night on Facebook, playing video games or binge-watching Netflix.
On the other hand, there are situations where you have the right to leave things for later.
New parents who haven’t gotten much sleep because junior’s been keeping them up every night.
Or, after a heavy workday and you come home very exhausted.
When it comes to the former, willpower and motivation play an important role in fixing that bad habit. As for the latter example, getting rest is probably your best solution.
At times, it’s not laziness or being tired…
Instead, it’s just because you can’t make up your mind.
In some cases, that’s because people are just plain indecisive.
That’s not you. But, you probably know someone like that, right?
In most cases, indecision comes from not knowing which path to take because you don’t know what the outcomes will be.
Take for example, your blog.
Should you focus on social media or SEO?
And if you decide on social media, will it be Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram?
You know you can’t do them all and be super proficient, especially as a beginner.
Another example may be about your audience…
If you’re a food blogger, should you focus on all types of foods or just one, say Paleo or Keto?
The former gives you a much larger audience…
But, the latter is more targeted.
Which would you choose?
The decision is hard in part because you’re fully aware of opportunity cost.
That is, doing one thing means having to give up another, simply because you only have enough time and effort for one.
As a result, you become indecisive.
As simple as it sounds, procrastination has many causes.
The key is to figure out which of these affect your life.
The list above will help you take note of the different things that can cause you be set things you need to do now aside.
More importantly, they come with tips on how you can prevent these things from making you procrastinate.