Procrastination is one of the most common habits in our society. We all do it, at some point or another. But why do we procrastinate and what does it feel like? We also know that being a procrastinator is not good for us. We hold the tension when we try to relax, we increase our stress patterns, and can impact the stress of time management.
Here are some ways that you can tell when you’re procrastinating:
When you procrastinate, it’s like you’re caught in a holding pattern.
When you procrastinate, it’s like you’re caught in a holding pattern. It’s possible that you feel the need to make more progress on the project. You might even know what needs to be done and how to do it; but instead of doing it, you’re stuck in mental paralysis—and that can be extremely frustrating.
This experience of being stuck can feel very unpleasant. In fact, our research shows that people who are delayed in making decisions also report feeling frustrated and angry when they do finally decide what action they will take (Gollwitzer & Bargh, 1996). And these negative emotions often lead us down an even darker path: experiencing regret about taking action or inaction (Iyengar & Lepper, 2000).
You feel paralyzed by fear.
Procrastination is a way to avoid the fear of failure, success, the unknown and change. It’s also a way to escape from the judgment of others and even yourself.
There are so many factors that come into play when we think about reasons why we procrastinate including:
- Fear of failure – you might be afraid that if you take action, your efforts won’t pan out as expected and then it would look like you were wrong all along or don’t know what you’re doing (even though this could actually be a good thing). You may feel like if your efforts fail then people will see us as incompetent or incapable which is why we can sometimes get stuck in our own heads worrying about what other people think rather than focusing on taking action towards our goals.
- Fear of success – there are some people who have been conditioned by their families/friends/peers to believe that productivity equals selfishness which means they associate being productive with being self-centred or uncaring towards others which makes them uncomfortable when they feel like they’re being successful because then they have to deal with other peoples’ judgements about their actions whether these judgements are positive or negative. They might also feel guilty for taking too much time away from others while working on their own tasks without considering how much time those around them spend working on things related only indirectly (like going shopping together) so it creates an environment where no one feels comfortable talking about their feelings around procrastination openly because “it’s not nice”.
You become super-reactive.
When you’re procrastinating, you are more likely to react in a way that is not constructive. You might fly off the handle at something as small as someone knocking on your door when they’re not supposed to. You might get irritated by every little thing that goes wrong in your day, or feel like everything is going wrong with your life.
You will also probably have a tendency towards negative thinking: “Why can’t I get this done?” “I’m such an idiot.” “I’m so lazy and worthless.”
You project your fears onto others.
When you project your fears onto others, it’s a way of avoiding them. When you think other people are judging you, it’s a way of avoiding your own judgmental thoughts. When you think other people are more successful than you, it’s a way of avoiding focusing on your own success and failure.
You might also project your fears onto others when their accomplishments give you pause about the state of your life and what the future holds for you. You may think that everyone else has their shit together while yours is falling apart at the seams; that everyone else has found success in their careers while yours is still missing from existence; or even that everyone else has got better relationships than yours does (even though—or especially because—they’re not real).
You may be asking ‘why do I procrastinate so much?’ This is a natural question and we tackle this here, but first lets look at some of the feelings associated with being a procrastinator.
You feel self-loathing and hopeless.
You feel self-loathing and hopeless.
It’s not just that you procrastinate; your feelings about yourself change as a result of procrastinating. You begin to have negative thoughts about yourself, which can lead to depression. For example:
- “I should be able to get this done on my own! I’m such a loser—this is why no one likes me!”
- “Everyone else seems so much better at school than I am and they never procrastinate like me… maybe if only I could be more like them? Maybe then my life would be better? But these are impossible goals… nothing will ever change… I hate myself for being so weak and useless.”
Procrastination is a bad idea because it leads to stress, anxiety and depression
Procrastination can be a bad idea, especially when it comes to your health. Instead of feeling relaxed, you’re more likely to feel stressed out. And that stress can lead to anxiety and depression.
Procrastination can also affect your performance in school and at work — not just because it makes you late with assignments or meetings, but because of all the time wasted before getting started on them!
Finally, procrastination can have an impact on the quality of your relationships. People who procrastinate may feel like they don’t have enough time for their friends or family members because they’re always putting things off until later (or never).
We also know that procrastination has an impact on our sleep, such as shorter sleep duration and an increased risk of insomnia symptoms and daytime sleepiness. Lots of people engage in “revenge bedtime procrastination,” which describes a tendency to push off sleep to make time for personal activities.
So, if you’re a procrastinator and want to change, try to recognize the signs of your own procrastination early on. It’ll help you stop doing it before it causes more harm than good!