Nearly everyone procrastinates at some time or another, no matter how well organized they may seem. However, studies show that 20 percent of the adult population frequently put off or avoid doing certain tasks by looking for other distractions which are available in abundance. That percentage is much higher for college students – anywhere from 25 to 75 percent.
Procrastination often causes stress, guilt, or anxiety related to the loss of productivity or opportunities which can promote even more procrastinating. In addition, procrastination can effect an individual’s health by causing gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, or lowering their immune system. It may also affect professional and personal relationships as the burden of responsibility is shifted to others.
The ripple effect of procrastination can be far-reaching as deadlines are missed, reports are filed late, bills become overdue, and birthdays pass unnoticed. The bottom line is that procrastination is a form of self-sabotage; a habit that disrupts many areas of life. The good news is that habits can be changed.
Why People Procrastinate
Many procrastinators say they work best under pressure which is why they put off doing things until the eleventh hour. However, this is usually just an excuse to avoid the inevitable for as long as possible. Then, they rush around in a tizzy and whip others around them into a lather in an effort to beat the clock.
For some, procrastination is a natural state. They simply learned by the example of others (i.e., parents, supervisor) and don’t know how to do things differently. Other reasons people may procrastinate are:
- Rebellion against doing certain tasks (often referred to as passive-aggressive behavior)
- Inability to effectively manage time or plan ahead
- Fear of failure (or success)
- Indecisive or insecure
- Do not have the skills to complete a specific task or project
- Boredom or lack of interest
- Lack of motivation
Chronic procrastination may also indicate an underlying condition or psychological disorder such as acute anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In this event, a qualified therapist or mental health professional can help with the development of good, productive life skills through cognitive behavioral therapy.
Next week, we’ll talk in more detail about strategies to overcome procrastination so that it no longer has adverse effects on your life and those around you. This change in lifestyle won’t happen overnight; however, to ignore the problem and do nothing could have serious consequences.