Blog| Understanding the psychology of procrastination

By understanding the fundamental causes and developing strategies to overcome procrastination, we can create a more fulfilling and successful life.

Ashmi Koirala

  • Read Time 2 min.

Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily delaying or postponing important tasks despite knowing the negative consequences of the action. Putting off the work to be accomplished at the last moment for instant pleasure or relaxation is simply the consequence of it. It is a common phenomenon that one experiences regardless of the age, occupation, gender, and lifestyle. Thus, acquiring a sound knowledge about the psychology of it can enlighten us about its causes, effects, outcomes, and effective strategies for overcoming this behaviour.

The psychological aspects of procrastination have been extensively studied by the researchers and behavioural experts to identify its core causes. It serves as a defence mechanism–a way to protect ourselves from anxiety, pressure and stress associated with tackling a difficult, sophisticated and unpleasant task that our brain perceives as a threat, triggering the fight or flight response. In response, to avoid that particular task, we distract ourselves by, for example, performing another task that is easier or has lower stakes. The instant, but temporary, relief from anxiety reinforces the behaviour, creating a procrastination cycle. Research has shown that procrastination is linked to negative outcomes, including decreased productivity and increased stress levels. It can also have a significant impact on our mental health, and general well-being, as it may evoke feelings such as guilt, shame, and self-doubt.

Although overcoming this behaviour could be burdensome, effective strategies can help individuals break free from this cycle. For example, breaking down tasks into smaller and more manageable steps, and setting achievable goals for each step can help to reduce overwhelming feelings that often lead to procrastination. Another approach is mindfulness, which involves focusing on the present moment and acknowledging our thoughts and emotions without judgement, in addition to accepting that getting the task done is more important than the result of said task being perfect. For some who are not able to keep themselves from procrastinating, it can help to have a friend make sure you are focused on your goal and do not let your feelings overwhelm you. In more severe cases of procrastination, one can reduce the tendency of procrastinating by seeking professional counselling.

In conclusion, understanding the psychology of procrastination could be a challenging task due to its underlying factors. While it may feel like a harmless habit, it can have a significant impact on our well-being and reduce productivity. By understanding the fundamental causes and developing strategies to overcome it, we can create a more fulfilling and successful life.