Procrastinate – Concept, Causes, Examples and How to Avoid It

We explain what is procrastination, why it occurs and examples. Also, how to stop procrastinating and how to spell the term.

to procrastinate
Procrastination is putting off an activity perceived as uncomfortable, difficult, or frustrating.

What is procrastination?

When we talk about procrastinating, we mean postponement or deferral of an important matter, replacing it instead with others of less relevance, easier to face or more pleasant. It is not a form of laziness or laziness, but rather a difficulty in coping with the emotional requirements that the complex task demands.

The verb procrastinate was not widely used until the beginning of the 21st century, when it became effective in light of the distracting effect that social networks have. The term comes from the Latin procrastinate, made up of the prefix pro– (“forward”) and crastinus (“Tomorrow”), that is, leave things for tomorrow, something totally contrary to what the popular saying suggests: “do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.”

Contrary to popular belief, procrastination is an emotional matter. It is a distracting behavior, which postpones the moment of facing an activity perceived as painful, uncomfortable, distressing, disturbing, difficult or frustrating, all of which justifies its postponement to an uncertain and idealized future in which the conditions to do so.

Many psychologists consider procrastination as a symptom of larger problems, such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or also as a trait of the hyperstimulation that we are subjected to in contemporary times.

Examples of procrastination

Procrastination can occur in many different ways, for example:

  • Eternally have “preparations” to face what to do: pour yourself a cup of coffee, then adjust the chair, then change pencils, then do maintenance on the computer, then go to the bathroom, and so on.
  • Take care of minor and unimportant tasks from the office, such as sending an email, sharpening pencils or solving non-urgent problems, as long as you do not face the main and most relevant task.
  • Engage in multiple distractions while important work is “starting”, so that more time and attention is devoted to the former than the latter, for example, opening windows on social networks, initiating chat conversations, etc.

How to stop procrastinating?

procrastinate solutions
It is difficult to stop procrastinating because its cause cannot always be identified.

There is no simple answer to how to stop procrastinating, in part because it has no single or easily identifiable cause. Nevertheless, a significant change in the way you think or approach the task in question can almost always be part of the solution of the problem, understanding that it is not so much a lack of desire or lack of will, as an emotional configuration that complicates the task more than necessary.

Thus, to stop procrastinating an activity, certain changes in attitude may be useful, such as:

  • Divide the to-do into a set of smaller tasks and manageable, that can be done with less effort and less anxiety, and start tackling them one by one.
  • Be encouraged to draft or a previous and imperfect version of the task, on which to later work on a final version. This allows you to lower the pressures for perfection and get on with the task without feeling like you have to get it right the first time.
  • Accept your own decisions, their own desires and their own needs, as a way of taking pressure off what they will say and the need for external validation, in order to undertake postponed tasks with less fear.
  • Build a distraction-free work environment free: put the phone aside, uninstall computer games, minimize interruptions, log out of social networks, etc., during the period in which we want to do that important work. We must decrease the quantity and availability of excuses.
  • In case we realize that we are avoiding important work, do not blame ourselves and add frustration and discomfort to the experience, but take it with some humor and try to redirect our attention in positive ways.
  • Apply interrupted work techniques such as the “pomodoro method”, which generally segment work into small chunks using intermittent pauses to make it lighter.

Procrastinate or procrastinate?

The correct spelling of the verb it is procrastinating and not “procrastinating”, that is, it is written with two interconsonant “r”, even though it is difficult to pronounce. This is because it comes from Latin procrastinate, as we have already seen.