Stop letting procrastination be your excuse

Let’s establish that no one is perfect and no one is completely procrastination-free, every moment of every day.  However, you can spot a habitual procrastinator anywhere.  Here are some common signs[1]:

  • Procrastinators are often overly optimistic about completing complex tasks in little time
  • Thinks and says they work best under pressure
  • Easily distracted and loses focus when there is no urgency
  • Delayed start (because they have a false sense that everything is under control, so there’s no need to jump into it immediately)
  • When no progress has been made, they offer reassurance that everything is under control
  • Action driven by panic (the realization that everything is not under control)
  • Scrambles last minute, working hours on end to complete a project minutes before the deadline.


The key is to discover the root cause of your procrastination, so you can correct it.  Most procrastination is commonly rooted in the following issues[2]:

Low self-confidence: When you’re feeling insecure about your ability to complete a task, (forget about completing it well), you probably delay it to avoid feeling “stupid.”  Truth be told, you have more than enough smarts to figure it out.  The good news is that the more times you tackle a task head on – and are successful – the easier it is to stop procrastinating.

Perfectionist: You’re a perfectionist and nothing less than stellar is acceptable.  Give yourself a break and let go of trying to be perfect.  Given your high standards your best is probably far above par.  Somewhere along the line, you tied perfectionism to acceptance (or love) and love should never be dependent upon performance…explore that issue.


Rebellion: Procrastination may be your way of expressing your rebellion.  A sort of “You can’t tell me what to do, I’ll do it when I’m good and ready.”  This probably didn’t work when you tried to use it with your parents (or it did work and that’s why you use it as an adult), but it definitely will NOT work with your boss.  If you’re an entrepreneur – well, you’re just shooting your own foot.

Manipulation: This is a common characteristic of an insecure coworker or manager.  “They can’t start without me.  This project is nothing without my talent.”  This takes some personal growth to overcome and the realization that discounting the ability of others does not increase your own.  If you’re feeling insecure, go back to school or take additional training.  When you expand your skill set, you can stop feeling insecure about your value.

Coping with Pressure: Procrastination may be a coping skill to dealing with feeling overwhelmed.  They delay until they have the mental stability to perform the task or wait until the very last minute to start.  While this may certainly be the case some days, the important thing to remember is not to make a habit of it.  Delegate tasks temporarily or permanently to avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

Will you choose to begin reducing procrastinating in your life so you can enjoy even greater successes or will you continue to let procrastination hold you back from reaching your true potential?  What has to happen next for you to stop letting procrastination be your excuse?  It’s easy to make excuses and it’s even easier to use those excuses to procrastinate.  With a little insight into why procrastination occurs, you may be able to reduce or completely eliminate it from your personal and professional life.

[1] California Polytechnic University. “Procrastination.” CalPoly Student Academic Services. (accessed October 1, 2009).

[2] California Polytechnic University. “Procrastination.” CalPoly Student Academic Services. (accessed October 1, 2009).

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