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7 Ways We Love to Procrastinate—and How to Avoid It

Procrastination is something we all would like to do less of.

Key points

  • Change of any kind takes mental discipline and emotional fortitude.
  • Seven ways people procrastinate include waiting until the situation is more pressing, and waiting until the last minute.
  • Sometimes people want others to complete their work so they can move forward with their lives; this is yet another procrastination excuse.

Procrastination is something we all would like to do less of, but change of any kind takes mental discipline and emotional fortitude. Here are seven ways we love to procrastinate.

1. The I-Can-No-Longer-Ignore-This Scenario. Once your toenails poke through your socks, you know it’s time to trim them. When life is poking at you to get something done, that’s your subconscious saying “I’m not letting you ignore this any longer.” Better yet, trim those toenails before they ruin your socks.

2. The Tiger-in-a-Cage System. Sometimes if you put all the pieces out (documents, tax papers, spreadsheet, etc.) in front of you and just look at them, it can help. You may have to pace around your project for a while until you find the correct starting point. That’s OK. Once you do, you’ll settle down with your work like an old friend.

3. The Wait-Till-the-Last-Minute Practice. I am a firm believer that if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. Some of us need the extra pressure to do our best work. Yes, it would be better if you gave yourself more time, but usually you only acknowledge this after you’ve finished what you were avoiding. If you want to be among the best, however, don’t wait.

4. The Find-Someone-Else-to-Do-It Method. Back in college, other students came to me to help write their papers, and it helped pay my tuition. Often since then, I have been in situations where someone bigger and stronger has made the job much easier. But if Aquaman is unavailable, I have to get creative, do it myself, or wait. I generally go for option two and figure things out, because most of the time no one is coming to the rescue.

5. The Everything/Anything-Else-Is-More-Important Technique. Do I want to do this paperwork that I dread or would I rather change the litter box? Hmmm, let me think on that a while. They are both kind of dealing with crap, so why not opt for the least smelly one? Sometimes it gets down to choosing the lesser of two evils.

6. The I’ve-Got-Plenty-of-Time Excuse. Time is never of the essence until it is, and you are back in last-minute mode—not the best thing. Better to start on projects immediately and get as many ideas down on paper as you can. Then you can let them percolate for a while until the good ones surface to the top. Also, if you work on your project a little at a time, it won’t seem like that much work.

7. The Wait-Until-the-Water’s-Just-Right Tactic. Sometimes after I have expended enough mental energy on something—which really means procrastinating—the only way to stop thinking about it is to dive right in. Sometimes this is the best way to calm the mind and get things done, even if it will take a week or so just to organize the bloody taxes.

Yes, I have and will continue to procrastinate from time to time, because I am human, get distracted too easily, and, quite frankly, put people before tasks. That being said, sometimes those people need me to complete said tasks, so they can move forward with their lives. This is yet another motivating force. These seven ways we love to procrastinate are just the beginning, there are many more, but you don't need to look for them.

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