Procrastination, causes, effects and solutions

What procrastination means?

Procrastination is the issue with priorities where one prioritizes what’s lesser in importance, preferring the easier ones. That’s how I would define procrastination. Meaning to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.

According to Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, “Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.” According to his research chronicle, procrastinators affecting their daily lives and producing guilt are 20%. These are the true procrastinators. 


Procrastination is a matter of emotions management rather than time management. Julia Baum, a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in private practice in Brooklyn, New York, agrees. “Poor time management is a symptom of the emotional problem. It’s not the problem itself,” she says.

Procrastination often camouflages itself under other mental health issues. Often mental health clients with the problem of procrastination don’t approach a counselor or a therapist with this concern. It’s appreciable that mindfulness and self-awareness are being created in the new generation to have an exception. 

Is Procrastination Laziness?

They might sound very relevant, they even are but they aren’t the same. A procrastinator shifts his focus from one task to a relevantly simpler one, or the one which gives instant pleasure or joy. 


Whereas laziness is about being inactive, unwilling to take action at all. It results from a sense of apathy. Procrastination can give an illusion of being busy to the doer sometimes. 

The link between depression and procrastination

how to overcome procrastination

1. Depression freezes you

Depression can freeze you. Why do I think there is a link between depression and procrastination? Because one contributes to the other. 

2. The loss of interest.

If you are stressed, you stop enjoying even what you once did, the result? You avoid it, in other words, you procrastinate. You lose energy, motivation, and desire for the outcome when stressed, guess what’s going to happen when you’re low and you have an important task ahead? You’d rather skip it. 


3. Feeling resourceless.

You won’t want yourself in a challenging situation because you know that you don’t have the resources and energy to deal with it because of stress. You’ll strive to avoid anything that demands productivity. 

4. Loss of confidence.

Considering the events and emotions a person under stress goes through, there’s a substantial loss of confidence. And if you lose self-confidence, you lose the motivation level as you lose the hope of achieving the desired outcome. 

Do check out our post where we reveal the 15 ways to improve your self-confidence.

5. Impact on the aptitude level.

Stress also damages the strategic planning ability. Which again would get you in difficulty planning, scheduling, and prioritizing events. And without a pre-planned approach, you would rather skip the task because you know that you wouldn’t be able to pull it off anyway. 

6. Isolation

If you’re stressed, you’d prefer to be left alone. This isolation prevents you not only from any social activity but also from other activities which ought to be on a higher side of a priority list. 

7. Defocused.

The positive aspect of everything is sort of blurred when under the impact of depression. You’d fail to see the benefit in the outcome which you’d achieve. This disinterest would lead you to procrastination.  

Procrastination and Anxiety

Anxiety also keeps you from doing things you’re anxious about. Sometimes it could even be something which you were very good at and maybe it’s been quite some time since you did it last. 

It could also be an intolerance to the uncertainty that makes you conscious and hence you procrastinate. People with anxiety often overcomplicate an issue and hence the imaginary version of it becomes a lot more complex than it actually is. The result, is procrastination. 

We also get skeptical about initiating something when we expect an undesired outcome. And guess what? Procrastination comes in for a rescue, why do something while you can avoid the negative outcomes by not doing it? Makes sense?

How harmful is procrastination?

The irony is, procrastination isn’t just harmful to your productivity, it also diminishes your health, both mental and physical. You could be attracting cardiovascular disease and hypertension if you have chronic procrastination, a study indicates. 

You may postpone or avoid an important task but the necessity remains. As time diminishes and life brings in newer tasks the list gets elongated. Then time goes, tasks bulk up and the thought of having so much to do with limited time stresses you out. 

In fact, you get more into procrastination as not finding the courage to initiate. Or the subconscious brain finding an excuse or an alternate thing to focus on uses something ideal for a diversion to escape the stress.

As the cycle goes, stress grows and the effect it has on health could be hazardous. You could undergo huge psychophysiological impacts in a negative direction. 

In a nutshell, loss of time, health, opportunities, underachievement, spoiled career, lower self-esteem, and build-up stress are a few to mention.

how to know if you have an anxiety disorder

Is procrastination a mental disease?

Though procrastination isn’t a mental health issue it can lead to one. Or could it be that it is the surface symptom of another underlying mental disease? 

It could have stress, anxiety, or even ADHD at a deeper level. People with ADHD have a problem coping with schedules and plans and hence avoid getting things done, procrastinating as a result. 

Extreme procrastination could lead to chronic mental health issues. 

Why do I procrastinate?

You have a task which you don’t like doing, sort of aversive towards it but you don’t want to feel the guilt of not doing anything. So you find a reason not to do it, creating an illusion of doing something else. 

We also overestimate our capabilities of getting things done in a time window. Remember the hair and the tortoise story? We reward ourselves with leisure before doing the work, turns out, we weren’t that efficient after all. 

Dr. Burns in Do-nothingism & How To Beat It mentions 13 types of mindsets associated with procrastination.

1. Hopelessness

In today’s society, the term “depression” is thrown around a lot. It is often used to describe any emotional state that does not align with the person’s expectations. Depression is a serious mental illness. When people use depression as an adjective, they diminish the seriousness of the mental illness. And hence rob those who are truly struggling with it of genuineness.

We should not be using depression as an adjective to describe any feeling we don’t like or that doesn’t align with our expectations. Doing this only minimizes and trivializes those who suffer from it and takes away their voice when they need it most.

Hopelessness and helplessness are big factors in suicide. When we feel like there is nothing we can do to make a difference, it makes people feel more at risk for committing suicide.

Mental health is not getting adequate attention from the government and this neglect may have something to do with our current high rate of suicide rates.

2. Helplessness

Being helpless creates a sense of defeat, it damages the willpower of a person. And guess what runs in that person’s mind? To avoid any challenging situation. Yes, because he’s lost trust in himself and can’t help himself. 

3. Overwhelming Yourself

This feeling paralyzes you. Being submerged in thinking of your problems in life does nothing but trigger the emotion further. You may enlarge an issue beyond its practical existence. And the resultant feeling drains your energy.

4. Jumping to Conclusions

Your go-to choice would be I can’t or I would’ve tried but….You can’t take effective action. 

5. Self-labeling

Your actions make you condemn and label yourself. And this makes your belief even stronger, the negative belief which you must get rid of. 

6. Undervaluing the Rewards

You skip the action by finding the reward not very appealing. Or at least, convincing yourself to justify your action, actually the act of not being active.

7. Perfectionism

“If I have to do it then it has to be perfect, otherwise better not do it.” Wow! If you think like that, let me tell you, all that you’ll do is “nothing”. Because that’s what we’re perfect in.  

8. Fear of Failure

Guess what would be the best method to avoid failure for a procrastinator? Skip the task. You won’t attempt. Remember, failure takes you a step closer to success.

9. Fear of Success

Not everyone can handle success. If you lack confidence, you’ll be skeptical about success, the thought of success will scare you. And you’ll think that you’re better off without it. So if you don’t want success, then why take action. 

10. Fear of Disapproval or Criticism

Most of the actions are avoided because of the fear of consequences, the undesirable ones. Consequences like disapproval or criticism. Some people are so weak that they can’t even tolerate positive criticism. 

Think about it, how will one progress without rectification? And how is rectification possible without knowing the improvable areas?

11. Coercion and Resentment

When you’re not quite in alignment with the task ahead, but you try to motivate yourself with an enforced belief then it isn’t productive. The coercion kills productivity and interest, it’s a negative motivation in a tug of war with the positive one. 

The inner you would be crying out loud, “ I hate it but I must do it” and you’ll pretend to ignore it. 

12. Low Frustration Tolerance

What success demands along with effort is patience. Since achievement isn’t a piece of cake, you can’t earn it overnight, luck apart. It certainly demands consistency which is unachievable without tolerance. 

If you give up to the hardship and challenges life throws at you and pretend to turn around your head and do something which distracts you then you know where you’ll end up. Frustration symbolizes failure, hold in till you can because you could just be an inch away.

13. Guilt and Self-blame

If you have a reason to blame yourself more than a reason to do something productive then you must be losing the motivation to do something good. Don’t waste your time blaming yourself, why don’t do something to have a better reputation and raise your self-esteem.

How to Stop Procrastination

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Everything is better dealt with in its initial stages, hence dealing with procrastination when it isn’t very serious is critical. Preventing procrastination could be done by doing the following:

1. Find the trigger

Sort out that one thing that is provoking the desire to procrastinate. It could vary for every individual. According to research, there are 7 triggers of procrastination, hence we’re more likely to procrastinate if the task is:

  1. Difficult
  2. Boring 
  3. Ambiguous 
  4. Frustrating 
  5. Rewardless
  6. Unstructured
  7. Not meaningful

Once you find a trigger, the task is to converse its effect. For instance, find a reward in a rewardless task, find a way to make a boring task more interesting, find a helping hand doing a difficult task, etc. 

2. Start small

If you are skeptical to do a task then to overcome the procrastination it would cause, start with lesser intensity. Convincing yourself of the simplicity and ease of the task at hand, it’ll be easier to initiate it. And once you initiate, then the major part of procrastination is overcome already. 

3. It’s not the end of the world.

You don’t have to give in if you do procrastinate. Remember, the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. Yes, it happens to everyone, or most of us at least; there’s a good chance that you being the normal human being could experience it.

Even if you do, it’s not a disease or disorder for which you go find the cure. Use your willpower, use the other strategies to beat the procrastination bothering you. 

4. Set a deadline before the deadline

If I have to finish the work by next month, then I have enough time left, and I guess I’ll just need a week to get it done, so; why start now? I’ll wait (procrastinate, shhhhhhhh).

This way you will also be able to maintain an optimal work-life balance, the key to happiness in your personal life.

No, don’t fall for the trap, set a deadline earlier than the actual one, a false deadline. Like if it’s after a month then set it after a fortnight and get it done before time. 

5. Positive self-talk

The voices in your head direct you, they create your map of reality. This is more true for people with dominantly auditory. Hence what you hear plays a decisive role in how you think and perceive reality. 

Guess what you hear your mind say right before you decide to postpone a task? “I’ll see, I’ll think about it better, I’ll do it later, aah not a big deal, I’ve done worse in lesser time, I’ll see about it tomorrow”. 

You need to change this, use sentences that will motivate you to get the job done. Like the ones which make you feel that you like doing it and you know how to get it done. 

Watch out for statements that make you feel imposed like “ I must, I should…” no, go for “ I will, I chose to, I am excited to….”

6. Beat procrastination with hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy can influence your thought process. If your therapist analyses the underlying reason or the trigger that initiates procrastination then it can be re-programmed by hypnotherapy. You also get hypnosis scripts to deal with procrastination. 

Hypnotherapy helps you get rid of the unwanted focus from all that’s unnecessary. You normally get disturbed, distracted, stressed, and anxious because of the wandering thoughts due to focus on such less prior things. 

7. Using NLP to overcome procrastination

Follow these steps:

  1. Imagine yourself (see yourself in your imagination) doing the task (the one you would procrastinate for). Look all the way through the task till you’ve achieved the outcome. 
  2. Now step into that imaginary body of yours and live that moment when you’ve achieved the outcome. See what you saw, hear what you heard and feel it.
  3. Think of 3 things you’ve learned during the process.
  4. Think of 3 benefits of obtaining the goa.
  5. Think of 3 ways how your life will improve with you getting rid of procrastination.
  6. Go ahead and do the task now. All the best. 

8. Get a counselor’s help. 

Don’t get disheartened if you feel that you’re not able to overcome procrastination. Just go for a counselor who could help you out of it. 

9. Be mindful of the importance of time.

Keep telling yourself that time is life and time is money. No matter what you want in this world, you’ll have to trade it with time. Time is your asset, just know the worth of it to use it efficiently. Make sure you have a schedule to follow.