Magazine article Supervisory Management

10 Reasons Why People Procrastinate

Magazine article Supervisory Management

10 Reasons Why People Procrastinate

Article excerpt

10 Reasons Why People Procrastinate

Procrastination is often treated like a social disease or character flaw. People who put things off are perceived as weak, undisciplined, and unmotivated. Those who don't procrastinate are usually quite smug about this. Many seem to take considerable delight in lecturing and dismissing their less efficient peers. They assume that procrastinators are lazy and uncaring - "If they really wanted to get the job done, they could find the motivation," they think.

Procrastinators don't feel any better about their knack for putting things off. They tend, in fact, to be ashamed and embarrassed by their inability to sustain a genuine effort.

Instead of a moral tone, a psychodynamic approach would be more productive in helping people who put things off. Procrastination is more correctly a symptom than a problem. Considering all the negative connotations it carries, procrastination must fulfill some powerful needs for its victims. Following are ten reasons procrastinators give (often unconsciously) for their behavior. Are you a procrastinator? If so, which of these reasons would explain your behavior?

1. "I don't want to." Plenty of procrastinators do so because they don't want to do what they believe they are supposed to do. Tasks like processing paperwork may be viewed as unpleasant and subsequently avoided.

2. "It's not worth it." Frequently people will put off tasks that seem to offer little tangible reward. For example, suppose you decide you need to clean up your desk. Even if you know you have to do this, the accomplishment of a clean desk might not be a particularly meaningful reward.

3. More is better. If you procrastinate often enough, it becomes a habit that feeds on itself. Simply put, the more you procrastinate, the more you procrastinate. Chronic procrastinators frequently put off doing even things they enjoy. Once it becomes an ingrained habit, procrastination becomes increasingly less selective.

4. Defcon 1. This is a military term (from "Defense Condition 1") signifying the highest state of preparedness. Some procrastinators shun required tasks because they feel a need to be emotionally involved in something far more important. They convince themselves that they must remain in a state of crisis preparedness, watching and waiting for some major event. Such mundane activities as talking to staffers are viewed as distractions. Additionally, because defcon 1 is a tense, frenetic mode of behavior, its practitioners are too depleted to do anything else when the crisis passes. …

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