Why We Procrastinate And How to Stop

Gabriel Fortaleza-Tan, Writer

We’ve all experienced that gut-wrenching feeling when our deadlines urge closer and closer but the work doesn’t seem to get any easier. All of us cursed with procrastination are aware that it is a bad habit, but we still continue to do it uncontrollably. But why do we procrastinate? And is there a way to stop?

Procrastination is the act of putting off tasks until the last possible moment, or even past the intended deadlines. Constant procrastination can lead to a lower quality of work because final products are completed more hastily than if done over a longer period of time. Putting off deadlines in school environments can prove detrimental with lower grades being issued due to the tardiness and quality of the work, or may even lead to being fired in professional environments. Even though most know the downsides of procrastination, people still continue to do it, with 80-95% of American college students admitting to procrastinating on a regular basis. 

So if procrastination is such a terrible habit then why do so many people continue to do it? Well, two of the main causes of procrastination are two psychological drivers called “fear of failure” and having low self-esteem. These two drivers are rooted in the perfectionist habits of most people because people want to succeed so passionately, small tasks and assignments may seem daunting because of how heavily people fear failure. And it is often human habit to avoid confrontation and struggle because it’s easier than to tackle it head-on.  The other driver behind procrastination is low self-esteem, when people have already low self-esteem and confidence in their abilities, tasks with importance begin to seem too overwhelming, which also leads to averting the task completely because it’s often easier to do. 

With procrastination being deeply rooted in the psychological workings of humans, stopping the habit completely is difficult but not impossible. Experts recommend taking three main steps in order to break it. Staying organized is the first step, which is noting deadlines and keeping papers and important documents in logical places for easy access. The second step is to remove distractions while working, a recommendation is to keep your phone away from you to remove the constant urge to check it while working. And the last and key component to stopping procrastination is to keep yourself accountable, because if you don’t consciously try to stop yourself from putting off tasks then you will continue to do it without consequences.

With all of this in mind, it is true that almost everybody procrastinates, but with the negative effects of it being so detrimental and obvious, it is essential that we must relentlessly work to break the habit. And following in the steps of experts may work to make breaking procrastination less daunting for anyone.