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Procrastinating or being lazy?

Procrastination vs Laziness

For a long time I thought of procrastination and laziness as basically the same concept. Putting these two words under the same umbrella created an inner conflict to which I just got aware of. When I feel like I’m being challenge to a new level I tend to leave things to be done at last minute. Even though I was calling this “procrastination”, I was also thinking about it as being the same as “lazy” and since I don’t consider myself a lazy person, I was under a conflict between how I perform and what I think of myself/my values and beliefs of myself. No need to say how guilty I felt every time I postponed a task and how I was judging myself because after all, it was just laziness. Now I realize that not only these two concepts are not the same, but also that there is no reason to be self-judgmental.

Procrastination is postponing a task, to intentionally delay its completion, but continuing with the goal of completing it. Laziness, on the other hand, is an unwillingness to put effort into developing a certain goal. While procrastination has roots on emotions and beliefs, laziness is a mechanism to cope with stress and fatigue and therefore a request of the body to slow down and have its own deserved rest, to recharge. That is why there is no need to be judgmental about being lazy and instead listen to your body, it is always communicating with you.

Why do people procrastinate?

Postponing a task – procrastination – often (if not, always) occurs when we have an important goal or a more challenging one and it is rooted in our emotions and in certain beliefs we have about ourselves. I divide it in three main reasons:

1) We procrastinate because we feel overwhelmed: the task at hand seems complicated, we may lack the necessary skills and/or the effort necessary to put in feels too much.

2) It can be a way of self-sabotage: often we have subconscious beliefs that we don’t deserve success. We say to ourselves “I’m not that person”; “I was not made for that” or “Success happens only to others”; “I don’t have what it takes”; “it is not the right time”, so it feels like it doesn’t matter what we do, we will always be what we are at the moment or we will never achieve the top. By being unaware that we carry these beliefs, we enter this negative feedback loop in which we set a goal, we procrastinate (“no matter what I do, I’ll never get there anyways”), we don’t get it done and therefore we validate and reinforce our belief that we don’t deserve success or we were not made for “that”.

3) It can happen because of fears: we are afraid of failing or succeeding, afraid of being judged or rejected, or afraid of not being perfect, not doing things flawlessly. This last one is very common in high achievers, to whom “good” is not good enough. Yet, for some people, procrastination can be a consequence of avoiding making decisions.

How to solve it?

Know your why. Have a reason good enough that propels you to do it. No more losing time, no more BS. Cut the excuses and focus on the reason to do it. Is your goal going to help someone? Is it going to relieve someone from pain? Is it going to retire your parents? Is it going to provide food for someone? Improve the employment situation in your community? Make people happier? Once we have the “why” in focus, the downsides, the fears, the roadblocks become blurred in our peripheral view. So tell me in the comments: why do you want to develop that idea?

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom. Edited.

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