Spotlight on Procrastination: Why We Do it and How to Stop

Whether it's a work project, household chore, or that book you've been meaning to read, we've all been guilty of putting off something we don't really want to do. But why do we do this? And more importantly, how can we stop? 

What is Procrastination? 

In its simplest form, procrastination is intentionally delaying or postponing something. While that might not sound so damaging at first glance, procrastination can have serious consequences. 

Chronic procrastination can lead to low self-esteem, increased stress, anxiety, and depression. One reason is that avoiding a task to put off negative or unwanted emotions is only a temporary "fix." The long-term impact is often a spiral of more negative emotions that make future endeavors (as well as the pending task at hand) even harder. 

Why We Procrastinate 

Two overarching reasons why people procrastinate include perfectionism and fear of failure.

Perfectionists tend to put off starting a task because they're worried they won't be able to do it perfectly. Likewise, people afraid of failing will often avoid starting a task altogether because they don't want to risk not being good at it. 

It's important to note that procrastination can also result from not just fear of failure or judgment but unhappiness, i.e., avoiding what we think we won't enjoy. 

Recognizing which of these applies to you is the first step in overcoming your procrastination habit. 

How to Stop Procrastinating 

If you're a perfectionist or think you might be, try setting small goals for yourself rather than trying to complete the entire task at once. If you're afraid of failure, try reframing your mindset. Rather than thinking of a task as an all-or-nothing proposition, try thinking of it as an opportunity to learn and grow. 

Despite your reason for procrastination, you can always consider talking to a mental health professional about it. Therapy can help you identify causes and triggers and teach you how to overcome obstacles, and even outline goals to develop healthier productivity habits.


Diane K. Schmidt Counseling Services | 8575 W. 110th Street, Suite 304 Overland Park, KS 66210 | Phone: 913.730.6778 | Email: