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The 5 Real Reasons You Procrastinate

5 Real Reaons You Procrastinate

It seems most Americans struggle with procrastination at least occasionally. A simple google search will yield many promising solutions, and yet we still seem to be wasting time and regretting it.

Why do we procrastinate?

  1. You don’t like the activity or task. If you perceive something as unpleasant, boring, time consuming or difficult, it The 5 Real Reasons You Procrastinate #procrastinationmakes sense that you will avoid it.
  2. You have poor organizational skills or time management. Not prioritizing. Don’t accurately estimate how long it will take. Created poor work habits so doing things last minute feels like the only way you can work.
  3. You feel overwhelmed. You have a never ending to-do list. You’ve taken on too much and have more work than you can possibly finish.
  4. You doubt your abilities and expect to fail. It is normal to want to do things you are good at or can expect to be successful at. When you think you’ll fail, you be less likely to even try.
  5. Easy access to distractions that give immediate positive gratification.Technology has really increased this problem. Smart phones, social media, video games, or any other technological vice is so easy to access (usually right in your pocket) that it takes a lot of effort not to head for these forms of instant gratification. For me, eating is another easy form of distraction.


What about perfectionism?

Perfectionism can be part of the problem. You may struggle to get things started and/or finished because:

  • You fear failure. If your standard is perfection, then “failure” is quite likely compared to the student who is shooting for a “B”.
  • You fear criticism.
  • You get caught up in the details. Revising and correcting prevents you from finishing tasks.
  • You spend way too much time trying to make it perfect.
  • You lose sight of priorities.
  • You don’t want to look foolish so you don’t try things.

There’s an interesting paradox about procrastination among perfectionists. Most perfectionists get a lot done. They’re very driven and goal-oriented and seem to achieve a lot. Research by Dr. B.E. Caplan, published in 2010, found that perfectionists aren’t more likely to be procrastinators than non-perfectionists.

However, in my clinical practice, it’s not unusual for perfectionists to complain about procrastination. Procrastination is particularly bothersome to perfectionists. Because they set such high expectations for yourself, procrastination hits perfectionists especially hard. Procrastination becomes it’s own source of failure and perfectionists will criticize themselves harshly for it.

As you can see, this creates a no win situation: Perfectionists procrastinate out of fear of failure and then procrastination creates a sense of failure.

For tips on overcoming procrastination, please read my next post: 6 Simple Solutions to Cure your Procrastination. 


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The 5 Real Reasons You Procrastinate

Sharon Martin, LCSW

Sharon Martin is an emotional wellness speaker, writer, and licensed psychotherapist. Her San Jose based practice specializes in helping over-stressed, high achieving adults and teens learn to embrace their imperfections and grow happiness. Her personal journey of overcoming perfectionism and people-pleasing traits, inspired her passion for this work. Sharon is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism: Evidence-Based Skills to Help You Let Go of Self-Criticism, Build Self-Esteem, and Find Balance and several ebooks including Setting Boundaries Without Guilt: A Workbook to Move You From Doormat to Empowerment. Sharon also enjoys teaching blogging and writing classes for therapists. You can find her on Twitter, instagram, and her website.

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APA Reference
Martin, S. (2015). The 5 Real Reasons You Procrastinate. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Nov 2015
Published on All rights reserved.