Why People Procrastinate? 7 Common Procrastination Excuses (and how to beat them)
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The following is a sample from my book 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results in Your Life. It includes many of the common “Procrastination Excuses” that many people use, as well as explaining why people procrastinate. If you're struggling with procrastination, then I encourage you to learn the simple habits for overcoming this problem, see the best examples of procrastination and learn a few vital lessons about how to not procrastinate.
It’s pretty easy to make an excuse for not starting a task. The trick is to know when a reason is valid and when it’s a creative way to avoid taking action. Most of our procrastination feelings come from a subconscious fear or self-limiting beliefs. When you take time to explore these thoughts, you’ll find that it’s easy to overcome them and create an action-oriented mindset.
Your mind is an amazing machine. It gives you the power to create anything from your imagination. However, it can also limit your ability to get things done. We often get stuck with a project—not from a lack of desire, but because of maladaptive thought patterns that bounce around in our heads.
The root cause of the “why people procrastinate” comes from our self-limiting beliefs. When these thoughts go unchecked, they cause you to make “excuses” for why a project/task can’t be completed. However, when you challenge these excuses, you’ll see that most of them are caused by hidden fears or destructive habit patterns.
There are seven causes of procrastination psychology that people commonly give as the reasons why they procrastinate. If you wonder, “why do i procrastinate so much” understanding these procrastination excuses and why they occur will bring you step closer to overcoming procrastination:
Excuse 1:“It doesn’t matter.”
People often avoid tasks that don’t seem important. Sometimes it’s not time-critical. Other times it’s an unpleasant task that doesn’t relate to a long-term goal. And often it requires you to overcome a major fear. No matter what thought runs through your head, there are times when we put off a task because it doesn’t seem to be important.
One of the simplest remedies to the “doesn’t matter” excuse is to develop the habit of making simple decisions. Either you get busy with completing a task or you have the courage to get rid of it. As you’ll learn, one of the best ways to overcome procrastination excuses is to make hard decisions in your life—even if that means eliminating things that once seemed important.
Excuse 2:“I need to do ______ first.”
Projects often get hung up because a specific task needs to be completed before doing anything else. Whether it’s a phone call, conflicting project, or a simple purchase, it’s easy to procrastinate when there’s something that needs to be done before anything else.
You can forever eliminate this excuse by developing the habit of completely defining each project. The key here is to break them down into a series of tiny actions that you take on a daily basis. (Credit to Getting Things Done for this major insight.)
Excuse 3: “I need more information to get started.”
Sometimes this is a valid excuse. We often have tasks that require extensive research before getting started. However, I don’t think that it’s a valid excuse if you’re doing it on a weekly basis.
At the risk of sounding snarky, the simplest solution to this excuse is to get more information. Not knowing how to do something should never be a reason to avoid a project. Nowadays, it’s possible to learn any skill or find someone else to do it for you.
Excuse 4: “I feel overwhelmed and have too much to do.”
We all experience those moments when we feel overwhelmed. It seems like no matter how hard we work, our to-do lists never get to-done. Usually this problem happens to people who possess the “Superman mentality” where they feel personally responsible to do everything on their own.
Feelings of being overwhelmed can be eliminated by focusing on important projects and delegating/eliminating the rest. Once you know how to identify what’s important, you’ll find it’s easy to “single-handle” each task and get things done in a consistent manner.
Excuse 5: “I don’t have time right now.”
Again, this is a completely valid excuse. Sometimes you’re focused on a project and it doesn’t make sense to start another one. However, the “no time” excuse often turns into a nasty procrastination habit where you’re forever putting off important things.
Saying you don’t have enough time now promises a perfect future when work will be easier, less complicated and fun to do. Subconsciously though, many people make this excuse with the secret hope that the need to do the task will eventually disappear.
If you keep delaying action until that mythical “someday,” chances are quite high that you’ll never tackle this project.
Excuse 6: “I keep forgetting to do it.”
People often procrastinate on a task because they forget to do it. Sure, we all have those moments when something slips our mind. However, being chronically forgetful is a sign of a deep-seated resistance towards a specific task.
Perhaps you don’t think it’s important. Maybe you’re scared of failure. Or perhaps you’re not using an effective organizational system. The point here is that “forgetting” isn’t a valid reason for procrastination. At some point, you’ll need to make the commitment to either start a task or get rid of it.[adinserter block=”6″]
Excuse 7: “I don’t feel like doing it.”
Sure, there will always be unpleasant tasks that we dread. The secret is to know when something needs to be done and when it can be permanently eliminated. We often confuse the two by avoiding tasks that might have a positive long-term impact on our lives. That means that even if you don’t want to do something, that shouldn’t be the only reason for why you’re putting it off. The better solution is to analyze why you’re dreading the task to see if it’s a symptom of a larger problem.
Why Procrastination Excuses Are B.S.
Nobody is immune to making procrastination excuses. No matter how successful you are, at some point, you’ll come up with a reason to not take action on a project. That’s why it’s important to form habits that specifically prevent and overcome the excuses that sweep the reasons why people procrastinate right out the door. Once you understand the why of procrastination it is easy to move onto the next step. How to stop procrastinating.
To learn more, I encourage you to check out 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results in Your Life where you'll discover a catalog of positive routines that can be added to your busy day. I’ve labeled them as anti-procrastination habits (APH) because they help you take action even when you’re feeling lazy or unmotivated. The first step of stopping procrastination is understanding why people procrastinate.
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