Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control) - Deepstash
Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)

Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)

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Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)

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Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem

Procrastination manifests from a failure to regulate negative emotions. This is your brain’s coping mechanism to protect you from a perceived threat in the present. 

Maybe you’re feeling anxious, bored, frustrated, resentful, or insecure about a pressing task, so you avoid confronting those negative emotions by, say, doing some housework instead.

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Procrastination is a self-destructive tendency

Chronic sufferers engage in this irrational habit, fully aware of its harmful effects, even though postponing their to-do lists compounds the problem. Nevertheless, the mind latches onto the short-term relief that procrastination offers. That fleeting but addictive relief can feel rewarding, prompting the brain to search for a further release and triggering a negative, sometimes chronic, cycle of procrastination that is difficult to break. 

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Humans evolved the ability to procrastinate as a self-preservation technique

When confronted with an undesirable situation, the brain’s amygdala perceives a genuine threat and urges you to avoid that threat.

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Procrastination is damaging your health

Chronic sufferers frequently experience high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, stress, heart disease, and less satisfaction with life.

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Productivity apps are not the answer

Since the crux of the issue is a problem with emotional regulation and not with productivity, the latest time management apps and gadgets won’t cure your proclivity to postpone critical work. A better tactic is the related practice of self-compassion which is treating ourselves with kindness and understanding in the face of our mistakes and failures.


Engaging in self-compassion by taking ownership of your shortcomings can foster self-esteem, optimism, curiosity, and other positive feelings from within.

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Recommendations to deal with procrastination

  • Cultivate curiosity. If you’re feeling tempted to procrastinate, bring your attention to the sensations arising in your mind and body. To overcome your tendency to procrastinate, focus on the feelings in your brain and body that trigger your habit (awareness).
  • Consider the next action. This is different than the age-old advice to break up a task you’re tempted to avoid into bite-sized chunks. Focusing only on the “next action” helps calm our nerves.
  • Make your temptations more inconvenient. If you let social media distract you, remove those tempting apps.

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