Why Do We Tend to Procrastinate?

Procrastination is a familiar phenomenon for many students. The Cambridge Dictionary defines procrastination as “to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring” (Cambridge Dictionary). Procrastination and laziness are two different terms, and they do not have much in common. 

Procrastination seems like an irrational act, because postponing things that have to be done will not bring any benefits. Procrastination is closely connected with emotions; one of the reasons to do it is the inability to deal with the bad emotions that you feel during doing certain tasks. 

“As university students, we always have so many things to do, but our mind often tries to focus on things other than studying. One time, I suddenly decided that I want to start my own clothing line during the middle of learning for an exam. We hate that we can´t 100% focus on studying when we need to, but it does not mean we are lazy, our mind just needs a little break, so allow it. My advice would be that if there is an exam or essay you need a day of work for, just free up and plan two days for it. Then, if procrastination hits, it will not be such a problem, and you can allow your mind a little break” – says Petr Jirsa, student of International Relations. 

Many psychological phenomena can influence procrastination, such as depression and anxiety. In that case, it is best to talk with a psychologist and get treatment.

We are living in the age of Instagram and TikTok, where people consume a great deal of information every day. Social media can cause trouble focusing, which is another reason for procrastination. 
A common reason for procrastinating is perfectionism. It may sound odd, but thinking about doing a task perfectly can keep you from even taking the first step. Fear of failure can be another reason. 

People also tend to procrastinate because of exhaustion, which can be the result of having a long day at work or school, or simply having a bad day. In such a case, it is important to prioritize mental health and rest. School and work are important, but you must always consider the consequences of your actions, and it works both ways. 

Indecisiveness can be another reason for postponing the tasks you have to do. Having many things to do but not being able to decide which one to do first can cause further delays. 

Many techniques can help overcome procrastination. Guilt about postponing necessary tasks will not help. Instead, try to concentrate on doing your best, and take things slowly.

Make a pact with yourself that you will complete the task. Rewarding yourself can be a good motivation: if you have many tasks to do, make a deal with yourself that you will finish the tasks, and then enjoy the reward. 

Try to realize that thinking about doing the task perfectly is counterproductive, and it is better to simply do it without wondering what the result will be. Focus on getting the task done, not perfect.

Procrastination is closely connected to mental health. If procrastination is an occasional phenomenon, there is no need to focus on it, but if it becomes chronic, it could be a symptom of mental illness. In such a case, psychological help is the right answer. If you are interested in other psychological phenomena, consider applying for our Psychology Bachelor’s program.  

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