Reasons why I procrastinate

Why do I procrastinate? It is not because I shy from hard work. Actually the opposite is true of me. If I set my mind on something I will do everything it takes to get the work done. For instance, as I was working on my Master Thesis, I was cooped up in my apartment for days on hand. Writing the thesis was all I did. I was lucky that my husband took care of the household chores and cooking dinner for the period of time. It was so bad that he would call me during the day reminding me to eat something or talk a break and go for a walk. My effort paid off and I even got an A for the paper. (My husband believes that my biggest problem is that I always get away with last minute work. There is no reason for my inner or subconscious “I” to change its way when I achieve the expected results anyway.) But the point remains indisputable that had I started working on the thesis earlier, I would have saved myself the extremely stressful few weeks of exclusive focus on the thesis.

When I think about why I procrastinate, several reasons come to mind.

First I am impatient. For example I have wanted to update our travel blog for about 8 months now. I know it is a long time. I did start working on it months ago. In the beginning I worked for days on end, selecting photos and photoshoping the images. I even uploaded about 100 images on our blog. My husband had a look at those and said that the quality of the images was not good enough to be posted. He had to rework those. I knew that he did not have the time for the work, so I kind of lost motivation and eventually stopped reviewing the photos taken during the other months as well.

Second I am an impatient perfectionist. For example I have wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. I have many starts but no endings. I berate and criticise my own work. In my mind, if it is lower than bestseller standards, it is not worth the effort of writing it. Sooner rather than later I abandon my writing project.

Third it has become a habit. I have heard parents tell tales of how difficult it was to wean their child from the pacifier, feeding bottle or thumb sucking. It might feel like it stopped overnight but the fight had surely gone on for a while before reaching that point. That is another reason why I procrastinate. It is easier to stick with a bad habit then trying to change it, which requires hard work.

Fourth reason is I am afraid of failing. I am afraid of bursting a dream bubble by failing. The paradox is that I know I am capable of doing the things I usually procrastinate on. One would think that simply being aware of one’s capabilities should be enough to make one feel self-assured. But I am still afraid of failing without there being any valid reason for it. It is comparable to me learning to cycle. When a child learns to cycle, falling down is part and parcel of the experience. Even broken bones belong to the learning process. But as an adult learning to cycle, I was and still am extremely afraid of falling down because I know the consequences. Although I have never broken a single bone to date (Touch wood!), I know that it is a possibility if I were to fall from the bicycle. This fear accompanies me every time I get on the bicycle. It might be better for me, if I had fallen down and recovered. That way I could tell myself, falling down doesn’t matter because I have recovered from injuries. I imagine it is the same way with failing. It is actually a problem that I have no big or important failure to learn from and to use to overcome my fear of failing. My imagination of how it would be like to fail is probably much more horrible than the reality.

Fifth and final reason why I procrastinate is because my life is too good. I have a loving and understanding husband, am surrounded by people who love or at least like me the way I am. I live in a country, where there are no wars or political uprisings. I am actually in position to do anything I want. This freedom is daunting instead of empowering me. (Same point was made by experts during the study of the Quarterlife Crisis phenomenon.) Thus I procrastinate in order to prolong a situation that is pretty easy to endure when compared to going off in a new direction into an unknown future.

I know why I do it and now all I have to do is to stop doing it. 😉

4 thoughts on “Reasons why I procrastinate

  1. Rozan says:

    Hear hear Irene – Procrastination is my middle name!
    Waiting until the last possible minute to carry out tasks? Sounds very familiar. It has been proven that certain people just need that pressure to perform. We might curse this bad habit when we’re up until three am but, unfortunately (looking back at all the resolutions I made that I would start well in advance next time) I don’t think we’ll change 😉 But hey if the results are good, does it really matter?
    Also, interesting last reason. The Quarterlife Crisis is quite a phenomenon – at 28 I’m smack bang in the middle of it too. In my case, I’m not sure if that means that I procrastinate because life is too good, but rather because the uncertainty of which step to take next can be numbing/paralizing… But to recognise our areas for improvement is half the battle. All we need to do now, as you mention, is improve! Piece of cake 😉

  2. Posing the question, what do I want to do for a living in my thirties is also a sign that I am totally unsure of the direction I want my life to go in. Of course I know what my interests are and what I enjoy doing but it is not easy to translate these into livelihoods. I have been kind of procrastinating on my other To Dos lately. But I am glad that I have started writing and continue to do so every day. It might be true that I would always be the last minute Irene needing pressure to perform well. But I have not given up the hope that I can prevent a probable heart attack by not putting my heart through such stressful situations. After all, I am getting older by the day. 😉 Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!

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