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What is Procrastination and How to Overcome It

On your desk is a stack of documents, which need to be organised by you? The bills for your tax declaration are still lost in your flat? Welcome to the reality of many people. If we do not feel happy doing some things, we tend to procrastinate. Some people even procrastinate when it comes to important things, even if the results are negative consequences. In that case procrastination can be seen as a disease. What are the causes, and what can you do about it?

What is procrastination?

“There is nothing good unless you do it.” Erich Kästner knew it long ago, but also procrastinator know it. However, they are not able to act different, then procrastinate their tasks or even do not do it at all. So, procrastination could be pathological as well, and affected people suffer under these circumstances. Instead of getting important things done until the deadline, they focus on other, enjoyable things. This behaviour leads to stress and problems because they do not adhere to deadlines.

People, who are free to make one’s hours, often tend to procrastinate. This pathological behaviour already existed at school age and now continues. Sometimes, the cause of procrastination is a mental illness. Examples are anxiety disorders, ADHD, or depression. Chronical procrastination and stress go hand in hand very often. The other way round, procrastination itself can develop into a mental disease. Procrastination has nothing to do with laziness, but with a compromise of self-controlling.

What are the reasons for procrastination?

People, who procrastinate often have problems with specific factors:

  • Fear of the task, of failure and criticism
  • Unrealistic planning and goals
  • Problems with setting priorities and boundaries
  • Bad timing and ability to concentrate
  • Inadequate self-appraisal and appraisal of the tasks
  • Trying to avoid negative emotions

This behaviour is learned over the years. At some point, it starts to be an automatism, from which procrastinator have a hard time to escape from.

When procrastination is pathological?

We all are dallying from time to time, especially if we do not want to do something. It is pathological procrastination when this behaviour becomes a habit, and it ends with consequences. Examples for it are loss of a job, cancel study and rescheduling dates. Affected people suffer under this condition; they feel stress and pressure. The next deadline is just ahead and so is the fear about it. It is not clear, at which point procrastination needs treatment. Once, it causes sorrow in your job or private life you should seek help. Through a standardised questionnaire, it is possible to find out where the individual problems are.

What to do about procrastination?

Treatments start, depending on the type of individual problems. In case of professional help, there are counselling, psychotherapy, or group settings. Especially if a mental disease is the cause of it, therapy helps. It helps to improve self-controlling. That is why cognitive behavioural therapy is beneficial. You learn the following:

  • How to handle distractions and negative emotions
  • Changing habits
  • Practicing alternative working behaviour
  • Learning new ways of working
  • Setting realistic goals

Depending on the person, deficits get transformed into strengths. There are a lot of things procrastinators can do to change their behaviour. What exactly, you can see in the graphic below:

8 Tips against Procrastination

Pathological procrastination can result in stressful consequences, which influence you and your life. There are many methods to avoid this. If you need help, do not be ashamed to contact our experts. Together towards your goal instead of being alone in the vicious circle!


Photo source: (c) iStock.com/fotogestoeber.de

Published on: 1. September 2020
Stress - Nicole Inez Fuchs