What Is Procrastination?

Procrastination is delaying or postponing our tasks until the last moment we have to do them, or after the date, we set for ourselves. Experts define procrastination as a failure of personal self-regulation characterized by an unreasonable delay of your tasks regardless of whether the consequences are positive or negative.

No matter how well organized and committed you are, if you are a procrastinator, chances are that you have wasted several hours of your day on trivial activities such as social media, watching TV, or shopping online, when in fact, you should have invested this work time in activities such as your personal or academic projects.

We all procrastinate from time to time, but procrastinators chronically avoid the most difficult tasks. They procrastinate on tasks at home, at work and in other important areas of their lives. This undoubtedly affects their quality of performance and overall well-being. In this article I am going to tell you the main causes of procrastination so that you can take them into account and realize if your behavior is procrastinating or not.

Why do we procrastinate so much?

We procrastinate for different reasons. Sometimes it results from family pressure, perhaps because we are part of a strict household. At other times we avoid doing what we should do as an act of rebellion when we disagree with what we are forced to do.

Some factors that generate procrastination

Although we all procrastinate occasionally, chronic procrastination is a different problem. Some of the main causes of procrastination include the following behaviors.


Fear of failure.

Fear of being criticized.


Low self-esteem.

Tendency to self-destruction.

When we feel depressed.

Problems to focus.


For waiting to do what we have to do at the last minute.

When we feel aversion to tasks.

Resisting new challenges.

When we have decision fatigue.

Because we find it difficult to define goals.

Because we do not know how to prioritize.

Because we do not plan our tasks.

Because of disconnection with our future self.

Because we lack willpower.

As you can see, procrastination prevents you from reaching your maximum level of productivity or simply having a considerable one with which you feel comfortable and motivated to improve daily, it also considerably affects your emotional state, your health, and any other important area of your life.

Academic procrastination:

According to research, procrastination is a condition that may be particularly more pronounced among students. A meta-analysis published in the 2020 Psychological Bulletin found that 80% and 95% of college students regularly procrastinate their activities, especially when they require them to complete a course or assignment.

This one, as also another similar research paper examples, found that in this case, there are cognitive distortions that generate academic procrastination. This, in turn, leads students to perform the following procrastinating behaviors.

Overestimate the time left to complete assignments.

They overestimate the motivation they will have in the future that will help them complete what they need to do.

Students underestimate how long it will take them to complete their academic activities.

They ignore the workings of willpower to complete their academic tasks.

This leads to students doing all the piling ups quickly and badly (to meet all the deadlines), which certainly affects their grades, or looking for a free essay writer to help them cope with the backlog of assignments.

Main Causes of Procrastination:

Identifying what leads you to have a problem is critical when looking for strategies to overcome what makes you wrong. In the case of procrastination, you should know different causes so you can identify if it is your case and start giving it the attention it needs. Below, I will tell you a little more about these and how they act.


Being a perfectionist may seem like behavior that we all want to have, but perfection is impossible to achieve, and aspiring to be so in our projects generates unrealistic expectations. As a result, perfectionists develop a fear of failure. Eventually, this emotion makes them postpone their projects because they feel they will not get the expected result.


Unattractive or stressful tasks such as doing a college paper, handing in a work report, or studying for an exam provoke unpleasant emotions such as fear, stress, or distress, which are some of the primary triggers of procrastination cycles.

Once we feel all these negative emotions, our brain uses a defense mechanism that directs us to look for other “Reward” stimuli such as watching our cell phone, going to our fridge to eat something, smoking a cigarette, etc. This behavior can be reinforced the more it happens, and as a result, you will have a cycle of procrastination without being aware of it.

Low self-esteem

According to research, procrastinators have a low level of well-being and a high level of stress and anxiety, which can lead to low self-esteem and depression. It means that chronic procrastinators are involved in self-critical thought patterns. Some of the most frequent thoughts are the following.

Is everything I have done wrong?

Did I make a mistake?

Will I be good enough to do what I want to do?

Do I have the necessary skills to achieve it?

Did I understand what I needed to do?

Am I going to achieve it within the time frame?

People with low self-esteem constantly struggle with these and other limited thinking patterns, and this internal dialogue causes them to procrastinate until enough time passes and they get started. Being too hard interferes with your motivation and leads to procrastinating patterns.

Waiting until The Last Minute

Another major excuse of procrastinators is to claim that they “perform better under pressure”. For this reason, they have adopted the habit of waiting until the last minute to feel that surge of euphoria at completing a task on time against all odds.

But this is a behavior that rarely works as planned. Those with the “I’ll figure it out later” mentality don’t have enough time to do what they need to do right. As a result of putting off work until the last minute, it is possible to encounter mishaps and generate unnecessary errors that can compromise the quality of the work.

Concentration problems

Psychological research has found a strong link between difficulty concentrating and procrastination. For example, people with ADHD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder) often have a problem starting a project, but once they begin, they have trouble prioritizing, planning, and staying focused.

Remember that if you think this is your case, it is best to see a specialist to assess whether they have a concentration problem.

Decision fatigue

Have you ever taken longer than necessary to decide what to wear, what to have for breakfast or lunch, what route to take, what to drink, and who to ask to accompany you to a necessary appointment?

We often want more options, but this wastes our mental energy or willpower to decide. In this case, procrastination occurs when we have too many options to decide, and once our willpower runs out, we choose the most accessible option or choose later.

Resisting challenges

Procrastination often occurs when we face challenges that we consider problematic. That is, we avoid taking on a challenge for fear of not doing a job that is good enough. At other times we may think that we are not up to the task and therefore burden ourselves with anxiety or guilt, which will also contribute to further avoidance of our functions.

Frequent thoughts when resisting challenges

Those of us who procrastinate tasks that we find difficult or challenging usually have the following thoughts.

I don’t feel like doing it.

I’ll do it later.

What will happen if I fail to try?

I will do it when I feel it is the most appropriate time, etc.

Procrastination has its loop or cycle. This has 4 stages which are the following:

Begin to perform the task: In this stage, you are ready to complete the task you want to do. For this, you locate a place and time and have all your energy to do it.

Presence of negative emotions: The fact of negative emotions is nothing more than a defense mechanism that helps us avoid situations that do not generate pleasure but, on the contrary, indispose us and cause discomforts such as stress and anxiety.

Procrastination: Procrastination leads us to seek tasks that generate pleasure to avoid those that create stress or discomfort, for example, watching our cell phones instead of doing our work or what we should do. In other words, procrastination is rewarding behavior for our brain that becomes ingrained in our behavior and is repeated repeatedly when we perform the tasks that make us feel uncomfortable.

Feeling of guilt: Once we reach this point, time is limited, and the deadline is closer, and for this reason, feelings of guilt, stress, and anguish to deliver and finish on time we have to do arise. Once we reach this stage, the cycle of procrastination begins again.

These are some of the leading causes of procrastination. You can also work with procrastination with your therapist.

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