This Is Why You Procrastinate, And It’s Not Laziness

Alexandra Ferguson

(CNN) If you’re stuck in what seems like a never-ending cycle of procrastination, guilt, and chaos, you may be wondering, “Why am I so lazy?” or “why can’t I do things?”

But despite common perception, laziness is not usually the reason behind procrastination, explained Jenny Yip, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the Los Angeles-based Little Thinkers Center, which helps children with academic challenges. “Laziness is something like: ‘I have absolutely no desire to think about this.’ Procrastination is: ‘It bothers me to think about this. And, therefore, it is difficult for me to do the work.’ It is a big difference”.

Knowing why you procrastinate and learning how to combat it are the only ways to change your behavior, according to experts. Psychologist Linda Sapadin tried to help this self-improvement effort with her book “How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age.”

You can be the perfectionist, the dreamer, the worryer, or the defiant: these are all the styles of procrastination that Sapadin details in his book.

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Although these types of procrastination are not specific diagnoses and are not supported by research, “they are psychological types or reasons why someone might procrastinate,” says Yip, who is also an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Keck University School of Medicine. of Southern California.

Procrastination can have practical consequences, such as falling behind at work, not achieving personal goals, or crossing errands like grocery shopping or sending a letter off your to-do list. But it also has emotional or mental repercussions. It has been linked to depression, anxiety and stress, poor sleep, inadequate physical activity, loneliness and financial hardship, according to a January study of more than 3,500 college students.

“Especially in the United States, where so much of our worth is tied to what we do, how we work, what we produce, it can be very embarrassing not to be able to do it,” says Vara Saripalli, a clinical psychologist in Chicago. “It can leave people very defeated and feeling like there’s no point in trying.”

Knowing why you procrastinate can make you self-aware, but you still need strategies to break the habit. “Otherwise we will keep repeating things,” says Saripalli. “The strategy that you are going to employ to beat procrastination is going to change depending on the purpose that procrastination is serving for you.”

Below we explain what type of procrastinator you can be, although remember that you could embody more than one of these traits.

The perfectionist and the worryer

A procrastinator is often a perfectionist, Yip says.

“Since the perfectionist needs things to be done perfectly, with all the dots on the i’s, it requires an insurmountable effort. And if he does not have a plan to complete the task, he will be lost.

Worriers tend to be indecisive and rely on others for advice or reassurance before taking the initiative themselves. They are also very resistant to change and prefer the security of the known.

Both perfectionists and worriers may put off starting tasks for fear of failure or criticism, says Itamar Shatz, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, and creator of the “Solving Procrastination” website.

Challenge those beliefs and your behavior by acknowledging that perfectionist standards are unrealistic, Shatz said. “Replace them with standards that are good enough, giving yourself permission to make some mistakes,” he added.

Avoid thinking about all or nothing and give yourself a time limit to complete a task. (And stick to that deadline, but don’t give up if you don’t meet it.)

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The dreamer

A “dreamy” procrastinator doesn’t like the logistical details that often go into getting a project done, Saripalli explains. “They like to have ideas,” he adds. “Those things are fun. Then executing those visions is somewhat difficult or boring.

Dreamers can also be considered people for whom fate will intervene, making proactive hard work and efficiency seem unnecessary.

And, like a perfectionist, a dreamer can always want something better, says Yip. Train yourself to differentiate between dreams and goals, and approach goals with six questions: what, when, where, who, why, and how. Change “soon” or “one day” to specific times. Write your plans on a calendar, specifying each step.

the defiant

People with defiant procrastination tend to see life in terms of what others expect or require them to do, not what they want. This pessimism decreases their motivation to complete tasks.

If you’re in this mindset, look for positive ways to feel like you’re in control, says Shatz. Strive to act rather than react, and try to work with a team or supervisor, not against them.

“If you don’t like something, instead of being passive-aggressive, acknowledge what is and isn’t working and talk to whoever assigned you that task,” Yip explains. “Challengers often don’t feel ready to have these conversations with those they consider to be authority figures, or don’t believe that having them will bring them any benefit or positive outcome. … That is not necessarily true.”

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change is not easy

Like dealing with anxiety or other mental health issues, dealing with procrastination can be difficult, especially if it stems from deep-rooted issues, Shatz says.

For some people who procrastinate, “their self-esteem is so fragile that the idea of ​​doing something and failing would render them utter useless,” says Sean Grover, a New York-based psychotherapist specializing in group therapy.

In these cases, “consider contacting a professional, such as a psychologist, who might be able to help you,” adds Shatz.

“The visualization works,” Yip says. “If you can visualize yourself completing (a task), then it becomes more achievable simply because you have the idea that it can be done.”

Ultimately, how you approach life “depends on your belief system,” Yip says. “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. So whatever you believe, you’re right.”

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This Is Why You Procrastinate, And It’s Not Laziness – KESQ