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What Causes You to Procrastinate?

Posted by Douglas Wick on Mon, Mar 5, 2018

procastination-Now - LATER.jpg

Can Procrastination actually be productive?

In You Are Behind we explored Adam Grant’s Originals’ research how procrastination can be beneficial. In Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, a chapter on End Procrastination, delves into Productive and Destructive Procrastination.  More importantly it explores why we procrastinate in the first place. 

Let’s start by looking at what is Productive and Destructive Procrastination.

Productive Procrastination

Robbins describes Productive Procrastination, “If you are working on a creative project or an innovative idea, research shows that procrastination is not only good, but it is also important. The creative process takes time, so when you set a project aside for a few days or weeks, your mind can wander. That extra time spent mental wandering gives you the ability to come up with more creative, “divergent” ideas that enhance your project.”

Robbins explains, “My mind needed breaks and time to wander. It took me seven months longer than I thought it would to finish and the book is 100 times better for it. If you’re not getting the results that you want, give the project some time, go focus your energy somewhere else, and then come back later with fresh eyes.”

I find this true writing my blog. Since I’ve been writing a book on my journey through cancer, I would agree this can be true.

What creative process do you have to benefit from Productive Procrastination?

Watch this video on procrastination from Adam Grant

Destructive Procrastination

 Do you really need an explanation here?   Robbins definition: “It’s when we avoid the work we need to get done and know there will be negative consequences. This habit really comes back to bite you in the end.”

Anything you find yourself deliberately avoiding you really need to get done, falls into this category.

The Five Second Rule is Robbins Method for overcoming Procrastination.  We’ll cover it in our next blog.

Why do you procrastinate?

If we asked, most people believe procrastination is a result of poor time management skills, lack of willpower, or lack of self-discipline.

It’s not.

Procrastination’s Cause

Procrastination is not a form of laziness at all. It’s a coping mechanism for stress.

Psychology professor Timothy Pychyl, at Carleton University, has studied procrastination for more than 19 years. Dr. Pychyl found what drives procrastination is not avoiding work. It’s avoiding stress.

Procrastination is “a subconscious desire to feel good right now” so you can feel a little stress relief.

When someone procrastinates, we commonly believe they are making a deliberate choice to procrastinate.

REALITY: Most people who struggle with procrastination tell researchers they feel like they have no control over it. They’re absolutely right. They don’t understand the real reason why we procrastinate.

You procrastinate because you feel stressed out. As a general rule it’s not about work.

You are stressed about the bigger stuff: money, relationship problems, or life in general.

Blowing off work or studying for 15 minutes of online shopping or watching the highlights of last night’s game, you are taking a mini stress-break from the bigger stress you feel overall.

It’s like emotional eating for the mind.

When you avoid something that feels hard, you get a sense of relief. Plus, when you do something you enjoy, like surfing Facebook or laughing at YouTube videos, you get a short-term boost of dopamine.

The more often you procrastinate, the more likely you are to repeat the behavior.

The problem: You get a small boost of dopamine/relief when you do something you enjoy, over time the work, whatever you are avoiding  builds.

This creates more stress in your life.

now-later.jpgCure for Procrastination

Forgive Yourself

The first thing research tells us: you need to forgive yourself for procrastinating.

Dr. Pychyl, the aforementioned Psychology professor at Carleton University, co-authored a paper how students who forgave themselves for procrastinating are less likely to procrastinate on their next test.

Psychologists discovered we procrastinators can be really hard on themselves.

First Step to cure your procrastination: Quit beating yourself up.

We’ll explore two more steps to cure your procrastination next blog. 

For now, understand why you procrastinate: to relieve stress, and begin forgiving yourself.

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

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The-5-Second-Rule-Mel-Robbins-Book-Cover-Feature.jpgNEXT BLOG – Cure Procrastination

To cure procrastination requires two more steps, one includes a similar process to your 3-5 year plan, another is to get into your rocket ship and take off.  I’ll explain the 5 Second Rule and how to cure procrastination next blog.

Topics: consistently execute, Execution, Adam Grant, Originals, Productive Procrastination, Procrastination, Destructive Procrastination




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Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on small to midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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