1. You’re afraid you won’t do a good job.
This is maybe the number one reason for procrastination: the fear of failure (or something like it). Whether we’re afraid of not meeting someone else’s expectations, or of not meeting our own, we have the nagging feeling that we just won’t measure up somehow.
Solution: Go ahead and give yourself permission to fail. Just say “Screw it!” and try it anyway!
That’s actually much better than trying to psyche yourself up with pushy, “I can do this,” kind of talk, when deep down inside, you’re not sure that you can. Just say “Screw it!” and give it your best shot. If you don’t get it 100% right, that’s okay. You can nearly always put in a little more effort later.
2. You’re afraid of what will happen when you succeed.
If fear of failure is the number one enemy of getting things done, then fear of success just might be number two (ew). It’s actually pretty common to be afraid of the things we think will come with a job well done. Usually, these include increased scrutiny from others, or even their jealousy. Sometimes, we may be afraid we’ll be called on to do more and more and more and more…
Usually, this increased scrutiny or jealously is all (or mostly) in our heads. Being asked to do more and more and more…is its own problem–one that requires a whole lot of the word, “No”!
Solution: Admit that you are afraid of what might happen if you do a good job at the job you’re doing. 90% of the time, this simple acknowledgement is enough to snap you out of it. If it’s not–keep on reading!
3. You feel overwhelmed by the size of the project or task.
Solution: Break a project into tasks. Break each task into a sub-task. Break a nail if you have to. Simplify!
4. You feel overwhelmed about almost everything.
Do you procrastinate when it comes to, well, almost everything? You may be dealing with something a whole lot bigger than a procrastination problem.
You may be suffering from depression and/or an anxiety disorder. Depression is actually more about feeling overwhelmed than feeling “down”. Anxiety disorders are about more than just feeling “nervous”–and they make it very hard for sufferers to get anything done.
Solution: Go to your doctor and have a straight talk about your feelings of anxiety or overwhelm. You don’t necessarily have to see a psychiatrist. Although you can ask for a referral, most general practitioners know enough about depression to get a good idea for where you’re at, and help get you going in a healthier, more enjoyable direction.
5. You suffer from adult ADD or ADHD.
Solution: Ask your doctor about the symptoms of Adult Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, testing for the condition, and potential treatment. Some people are able to get by with regular exercise, while others need (or just want…) medication. Either way, if you’ve had problems making it this far down the page, get yourself to a doctor!
6. One word: Perfectionism.
If we constantly hold ourselves against the standard of perfection, we don’t have to deal with the fact that we are all ultimately vulnerable & imperfect human beings. It’s easier to not do anything, and pretend we’re perfect, than to get involved and realize we’re a mess!
Solution: Remind yourself that we live in a far from perfect world. It’s okay to be imperfect. After all, all of your friends are. You think they get on your nerves now–if they were perfect, you’d absolutely hate them!
7. You are not sufficiently caffeinated.
We’re not even kidding about this. Sometimes you need the caffeine, and that’s all there is to it! Maybe you’re worn out but don’t have the luxury of going to sleep. Maybe you just need a little kick to get yourself going. And maybe you’re a hard-core caffeine addict who can’t do a anything without it! Well, we have a solution for that, and it’s an easy one…
Solution: Get yourself rightly caffeinated! Fix yourself a cup of coffee, strong tea, a dish of Red Bull–whatever. Just do it!
(Oh, and if you really fall into the category of hard-core caffeine addict–consider getting checked for some form of Adult ADD!)
8. The thing you have to do, absolutely sucks.
You’ve gone through the checklist above and nothing 100% applies. Well, maybe it’s possible, just possible, that you have gotten yourself a crappy task.
Solution: Chunk your task and do something else. At least for now. Take a bath, a walk, or both. Anything that gets your heart rate up or is physically indulgent (without being harmful) can help you come back to the task and concentrate later. Sometimes it’s a good idea to just do something else for a while, then come back and do what you need to do!