Why Wait? The Psychological Causes of Procrastination.

In a world that increasingly demands us to do more and more in less time, procrastination is a deadly sin. Letting go of procrastination is the best way to give your productivity a growth space.

You know, it's easy to talk endlessly and passionately about brilliant ideas. You might even go as far as making plans which will help to turn the idea into a reality. However, if you don't take massive action, you will never achieve your goal.

We have been hardwired to believe that those that procrastinate are very lazy. However, I don't think that many people understand that procrastination does not necessarily equal laziness. It's a psychological problem that arises in as a result of certain factors which I outlined below.

What you will discover in this article about the psychological causes of procrastination will offer you a fresh perspective on the issue. This is a common problem everyone faces (and you are lying if you say that you aren't), and maybe it's caused by something different than we all thought.

1. Having Too Much Time For A Task (Parkinson's Principle)

In 1955, a humorous essay that was published in The Economist made a very revolutionary statement about why people procrastinate. According to this essay, work expands so as to fill the gap available for its completion.

This means that the more time that is available for completion of a goal, the more likely that those involved in carrying out the task will keep off doing it until the last minute. And according to the Stock–Sanford theory, "If you wait until the last minute to do something, then it only takes a minute to do it." The Parkinson's law has been found to be true everywhere and in everything - even if the task is as simple as writing a 250 word thank you email.

Having learnt this, how can you use the Parkinson's law to your own advantage?
Time your tasks and set deadlines.

Simple, right?

Wait! There's more to it. According to this research, while having deadlines has been proven to be effective in helping people to get up their ass and get things done, self imposed deadlines are don't seem to help very much - if at all in that regard.

In order to combat this, it is advisable to get a watchmate or a checkmate. When you have a task you need to tackle, your checkmate should have the responsibility of giving you a time limit for it. And to ensure that you really achieve this, your checkmate should be someone who you can't afford to give excuse to. In other words, the person should be your senior who you fear and respect. With time, you will begin to develop the mental fortitude necessary for stopping procrastination dead on its tracks even without the help of your watchmate.

2. Avoiding the Pain of Failure

Here's the hard truth

We are all afraid to fail.

There's always this nagging voice in our heads whenever we want to take action or act on our innovative ideas. It's always a naysayer presenting all the likely reasons why you are likely to fail. And so because of it, you throw in the towel and call it quits. However, this is not good at all.

The best way to shut off all those voices is to enter that action with so much boldness that your fear will begin to suspect that you are pretending to be afraid.
Since this has a lot to do with confidence issues, it is advisable that you try to engage in activities that are likely to boost your confidence. A good way to achieve this goal is to take out bitesized versions of what you want to do and do it very well. To help you do more, reward yourself for the job well done.

Another way to kick away the fear of taking action right now is to analyze the numerous "what ifs" which your mind has been presenting to you. It's important that you don't get biased while doing this. If it is possible, find a mentor who can guide you through it all. But if you are doing it all alone, ensure that you don't allow yourself to fall into the destructive habit of over thinking and analysis paralysis.

Always have it at the back of your mind that if you don't try something as a result of the fear of failure, you will fail for not trying at all. You will always miss 100% of the shots that you don't take. Also, most things which you worry about may never happen.

3. Fear of the Pain of Leaving the Comfort Zone

According to Neale Donald Walsch, life begins at the end of your comfort zone. And this is so true because nothing good or worthwhile in life is easy. If you want to grow, you have to get off your ass and get uncomfortable. Everything good in life begins with a challenge. It's not going to come to you on a platter of gold, you have to put in the work. Understand that your comfort zone is your obstacle to the success that you so much desire. If you want it, you have to go and get it.

Keep pushing yourself to surmount and achieve more than you already have. Don't put it off for tomorrow because you are comfortable enough where you are. Let me tell you this, if you don't get away from your comfort zone, you will soon become uncomfortable there.
And when this happens, you will begin to experience regret. Here's a question for you, would you rather feel the pain of regret or the pain of growth?

In all, to achieve any kind of success in life, it is important that you put in the hardwork. And this is not possible if you are the kind that keeps hoping that tomorrow will be the perfect time to do something that you are supposed to do today. In order to curb the bad habit of procrastination, I will recommend that you make use of the five seconds rule. According to this rule, once you decide that you have to do something, jump into action immediately before 5 seconds elapses. This will help you a lot to avoid over thinking the action and realizing a lot of "what ifs" in the process.