“I’ll start on Monday”: The Main Forms of Procrastination and Their Causes

Postponing things until a certain point is considered normal, so we avoid unnecessary fuss.


A serious sign is when important issues are put off continuously and for a long time: going to the doctor, choosing a university and profession, and creating a family. Postponement can turn into a “working” state in which a person spends most of his or her time. Everything important is postponed “for later”, and when the deadline passes, a person either refuses to do what is planned or tries to do everything “in a jerk”, in the impossibly short time. This leads to trouble at work, missed opportunities, dissatisfaction with others, and health problems.

Procrastination refers to putting things off and avoiding making important decisions.

In What Forms Procrastination Manifests Itself

A variety of forms of this psychological phenomenon includes a fear of taking risks and making grandiose unrealizable plans. Procrastination can be summarized in several forms that help us avoid problems and postpone solutions.

Doing Nothing

The basis is childhood problems, unwillingness to grow up, and infantilism. Unformed skills of self-regulation, and control. Here, elementary firmness is required.


The person lives for others – and does everything not to live for oneself, not to realize one’s own goals and desires. Here it is important to understand what this gives. Maybe it raises one’s own importance?


Doing everything but what needs to be done. Avoidance. It’s important to understand what fears the person has about important decisions.


Everyone around me is to blame for not doing anything. Failure to recognize one’s mistakes.

A spirit of Contradiction

It happens especially if there is a command “from above” to do something or not to do it. Sabotage as a passive protest. Parents, bosses, partners, or friends may demand something they cannot do.

Why Procrastination Occurs

At the conscious level, we set goals that relate to work and career, self-development, personal life, health, and family. We do this even while gambling at a live casino or going out to a new restaurant where we’ve never been before.

For the unconscious, our goals are “useless” work, outbursts of negative emotions, hard experiences, thoughts, burdens, and getting out of our comfort zone. Resistance arises – a protective function of the body, the instinct of self-preservation.

Sometimes the resistance is overcome, sometimes not. The reasons for too much resistance and procrastination can be the following:

  • Fear of the champion. Much has been done, one step left, but what’s next?
  • Fear of change. What if it will turn into more problems for me, more responsibility?
  • Low self-esteem, lack of confidence that everything will work out. Is it worth the investment? Maybe a bird in the hand is better than a crane in the sky?
  • Fear of being embarrassed. Fear of getting a blow to the ego.
  • Secondary benefits. What have I got to lose if I get what I want?
  • Intrapersonal conflict. I want, and itch and my mother does not tell.
  • Choosing between equal options. The Buridan donkey effect.
  • Another reason for procrastination is the choice between negative options. What will or won’t.
  • A traumatic negative experience. It already happened and did not end well, is it worth it to start?
  • Programming significant others. You won’t succeed anyway.
  • Convincing others and self-belief. Why do you need this?

How to Identify the Causes of Procrastination

Procrastination is a complex psychological and behavioral phenomenon, closely related to the motivational sphere of personality. If you sabotage some action or decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you really want it? Do you really need it?
  • Is it worth pursuing? What is your motivation to do it?
  • Is it achievable? How realistic is it to your level of ability, your competence?
  • Does it make life better or harder? What does it do for me and my loved ones?
  • Is it deserved?

When you are sure that you are putting something important off and have tried to figure out the reasons why you can begin to fight procrastination.

How to Reduce Procrastination

There are a number of techniques that can reduce procrastination, reduce stress, and increase real work output and life satisfaction.

It is possible to divide all cases according to two criteria: importance and urgency. Thus, there are only four categories of to-do’s that take time.

Important and Urgent

These are urgent matters – an emergency, an illness, a deadline, a life-threatening situation, a family crisis.

When doing important and urgent things, remember that it is all for the “important and non-urgent” goals of life.

Important and Non-urgent

These are the goals, plans, and important tasks that give meaning to life. These are the things that have the greatest impact on a person’s life as a whole, with procrastination primarily affecting them.

Unimportant and Urgent

These are the everyday little things, such as cleaning, long conversations on the phone with mom, going to the store, checking email and news on social media, and guests on the weekends. The unimportance of these things doesn’t mean you can’t do them all. But you need to realize that they are not too essential, and they can be abandoned in favor of things in the first and second categories.

Unimportant and Non-urgent

This is a category of daily chores that contribute very little to the quality of life, or not at all, but take up time. These tasks are given time when one does not know which direction is best: answering all phone calls, chatting with relatives during work hours, lingering at tea parties, business and personal spam, Internet blogs, playing cards, and sitting up late into the night.

How to Cope With Procrastination

Procrastination is a habit, a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. It’s hard to change in one day, so you need to be willing to work on it for a long time and, ideally, write down all the changes. Habits stop being habits when you avoid repeating them. Here are nine steps for working with procrastination.

  1. Observe what you spend your time on.
  2. Write down the schedule of your day today, yesterday, the day before, and the week before.
  3. Note what category these things fall into: important and urgent, unimportant and non-urgent, and so on.
  4. See what can be done without, what can be delegated, and what can be replaced by more important tasks.
  5. Divide tasks into stages, big tasks into parts.
  6. Reframe your internal dialogue. Replace the phrases “must” and “should”, implying that you have no choice, with the phrase “I choose”. By doing this, you show that you own the situation and that it’s important to do this first and foremost for you.
  7. Making a new schedule is another important step to combat procrastination. Take some time to do this. When your to-do list is clear, even putting something off, you are still doing useful work. You can make the list by ranking things by priority, but you don’t have to do things in an order of importance; you can do what’s easier first. Transfer all plans to external media. This will relieve your brain.
  8. Allocate time for delays and rest. You need to learn how to distribute your energy so that everything you have planned can be accomplished without tiring yourself out. Know how to balance work and rest. Find a balance and optimal pace of life that allows you to remain calm and serene.
  9. Tell your friends and family about your important plans. Ask someone to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle of self-help groups.
  10. Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a treat, like a piece of cake or coffee at your favorite cafe. And be sure to note how good it feels to have completed the task.

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