Procrastination is often mistakenly identified as laziness. These are two very different and distinct“ailments” we suffer from.
Procrastination causes an incapacity towards a particular task, not a general paralysis.
Laziness comes from avolition (severe lack of motivation). You rather not do anything. You seem to be whiling away time… you promise yourself tomorrow will be different. Laziness involves being voluntarily unwilling to exert necessary effort.
Procrastinators on the other hand are often very functional and hard working people.
Procrastinators might resist anything from a task like washing the bin to sending out an email or picking up the phone all the way to completely ignoring that they are currently jobless!
For example, someone who wants to work on a project may delay doing so (ie. procrastinate) because they don’t know where to start, even though they aren’t lazy. Alternatively, someone who doesn’t want to work hard on a project because they don’t want to exert any effort (ie. because they’re lazy) may get started on the project without any delay (ie. without procrastinating), because of some appropriate incentive.
People procrastinate because their drive to delay is irrationally stronger than their drive to act. This happens when their self-control and motivation are weakened by other issues.
Some of the reasons for procrastination are described below.
1. High standards – having achieved a very high standard once, procrastinators are reluctant to do the same task again. It’s a matter of pride!
2. Fear – procrastinators are afraid of doing something they have either failed in or Have no prior knowledge in.
3. Impulsiveness- these people are unable to “stick to the plan”. They go off at a tangent, making excuses to delay the task at hand.
4. Lose track of the bigger picture- ie. they’re goals and get fixated on a small part of the task.
5. Creativity – strangely, this is a reason for procrastination for many people. Similarly to getting fixated, these people are challenged by wanting everything to be a work of art.
6. Failure – this usually happens when faced by something new which you do not feel you have the skills for. It also happens when you have failed at the same task prior.
7. Waiting for the adrenaline – adrenaline starts flowing as the dead line and consequences start to become more apparent. Many of us find our motivation and stop procrastinating at the 11th hour.
8. Change – Most people want to change at least one thing in their life. But it can be challenging to find the motivation just to make a start, so instead we keep playing the tights over and over but physically do NOTHING.
The difference between the lazy bum (I say that playfully!) and the procrastinator is that while Procrastinators are NOT doing this particular task, they are keeping themselves occupied with other things so they can avoid this particular task!
“Oh! I was too busy” or “I was tired after doing other things” yada yada yada. Anything to avoid the dreaded task.
Procrastinators have the habit of doing irrelevant, unneeded and often completely unnecessary tasks instead of attending to what realistically needs to be done. They don’t sit free! They salvage their guilt by keeping busy.
Here’s what you can do. See that list up there, curb those thoughts!
Set an alarm and a timer to get those avoided tasks done.
Before you start grudgingly, half heartedly attempting the task, take these steps.
1. Take deep breaths. Conquer the fear with positive thoughts.
2. Break down the task mentally, then on paper. This will help you understand what exactly you are dreading.
3. Think about what you can do to overcome the obstacles you perceive.
4. Talk to someone useful, someone who can guide you or even just encourage you.
5. Think of consequences. What’s going to happen if you keep avoiding it? What’s the outcome of being jobless?
Now that you know the difference between a Procrastinator and someone who is just lazy, you should be better equipped to identify the difference and make the necessary adjustments and decisions.