Procrastination: Are You Really Lazy? Or an Emotional Regulation Problem?

By Krista

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Last Updated: July 23, 2022

“Procrastination is the thief of time.” — Charles Dickens

If you’re reading this, you probably already hate how much you procrastinate. You hate that you can’t just hop to it and get stuff done. You want to be that go-getter, that person who checks off tasks like it’s no big deal. But it’s just not happening.

And maybe you’ve swung at yourself a few times during the whole procrastination process.

You might end up on a negative thought spiral—and let’s cut in right here. We both know this whole downward spiral isn’t doing you any good. So, what if your procrastination tendency wasn’t because you were “lazy” or “not as smart as others”?

What if your procrastination comes down to a lack of emotional regulation? (Let that sink in for a second.)

So, how can we get a grip on this?

How can you finally stop procrastinating?

And what else should you know?

 

 

What Are The 4 Types of Procrastinators?

Do any of the below sound familiar?

What is your procrastination meaning?

Check out the categories below regarding common reasons for procrastination. 

 

Type #1: The “Anxious” Procrastinator

This type of procrastinator uses procrastination to cope.

This person might have severe anxiety with the thought of starting, working through, or even finishing the task at hand. 

 

Type #2: The “Fun” Procrastinator

This type of procrastinator simply rather do anything else besides the task they need to get done.

Everything else becomes that much more exciting (even doing laundry for some!). It just doesn’t make sense to start that one task now when there are more fun things happening.

 

Type #3: The “Plenty of Time” Procrastinator

This is the person who can’t bear to start something when the deadline is oh-so-far away!

So, they put it off, then put it off, and eventually this comes back to bite them in the butt.

 

Type #4: The “Perfectionist” Procrastinator

This procrastinator is never happy with their work.

It’s never up to their standards. Thus, they fear doing the task over producing low-quality work or failing altogether.

Related Article: 70 Highly Inspiring Motivational Quotes to Start Your Week Strong

 

 

Procrastination Psychology

Procrastination comes down to many issues.

In fact, some experts argue it might even be a self-regulation and self-discipline issue, which comes back to regulating one’s emotions.

But what else is going on here? Why do so many people suffer from the procrastination problem?

 

What is the Root of Procrastination?

As mentioned above, most people fall into the four categories of procrastination.

Thus, it can be really difficult to stop procrastinating, especially when most people have a legit reason why they are putting off the specific task.

At the root of all procrastination, on the other hand, is fear, disorganization, and perfectionism.

 

Is Procrastination an Emotional Regulation Problem?

In some cases, yes!

Many individuals who struggle with procrastination have cognitive distortions, particularly about the task they need to complete. They may believe they need to be in the “right” mood, but that mood never happens to arise.

They may believe they have all the time in the world later, which doesn’t end up being the case. Or they may feel they “need” motivation.

Here’s the thing: You have to make the right mood come about. Motivation won’t come from anything external. In fact, you don’t even need it to complete a task or chore. It’s the hard truth, and this all comes down to how you manage and regulate your emotions.

Related Article: Aromatherapy for Mental Health: 5 Helpful Ways it Can Ease Feelings of Anxiety & Stress

 

 

How Do You Regulate Emotions to Stop Procrastinating?

We love pleasure and happiness over pain and suffering.

This is an innate human drive. Thus, it’s no wonder we tend to procrastinate, especially when our beliefs and emotions tell us it's the right thing to do. 

But we know better. We know it’s better to get that work task done than face the wrath of our boss down the road. We know it’s a good idea to do laundry now rather than later when we have no clean underwear or socks left.

So, what can you do about all this to stop procrastinating? 

 

1. Figure out WHY you’re procrastinating.

Use the four types of procrastination above to help yourself get to the bottom of it all.

Usually, it’s because we are delaying a negative emotion we don’t want to experience. But it’s important to know what that emotion is and acknowledge it. 

Once you acknowledge it, you can figure out a way past it. 

 

2. Break your tasks into smaller tasks (and just get started!).

Okay, we get it. It’s hard to fully jump into a task you really don’t want to do.

But what about if you just dipped your toes in? What if you just planned a little bit ahead and broke that big task down into smaller tasks? Before you know it, you’ll be done (actually!).

 

3. Use rewards to “motivate” yourself.

Maybe you can’t do that fun thing until you’re done with this task.

Or perhaps you’re going to celebrate being done the task by hitting up your favorite restaurant. By doing something like this, you give yourself an incentive to get to it and get it done.

 

4. Make a deadline.

In addition to breaking down the tasks into smaller pieces, you can set deadlines for each small piece.

For example, if you have to write a big paper, you can plan to write the intro by a certain date, the next section by another date, and so on until it’s completed.

 

5. Get rid of any distractions.

Sometimes, to get stuff done, we need to literally trap ourselves in a room and just do it (Nike knows what we’re talking about!).

Eliminating distractions is an essential piece of halting procrastination, especially if you’re prone to shiny objects!

 

6. Make a rule to do things right now.

When things come up, just get them done.

Or if tasks take less than 5 minutes, do them as they pop up. This can prevent a lengthy to-do list from piling up and halt your procrastination in its tracks.

 

 

Don't Procrastinate. Get Moving Again! 

It’s not working for you but against you (but you probably already know that).

Finding the reason why you’re putting things off can help you thwart it. And yes, this can be tough to face. But not having the stress of various tasks hanging over your head is entirely worth it.

Read Next: The 6 Healthy Habits I Used to Beat Procrastination: You Can Do it Too

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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2 comments on “Procrastination: Are You Really Lazy? Or an Emotional Regulation Problem?”

  1. I think many of us are not procrastinating, it is just that we are burnout at work and in general in life and no longer have any motivation to do anything when there is no payoff in the short and long-term. We are tired of beating our heads against the wall and will no longer do it just to make the boss look good and advance his/her career while not getting anything back except more pain and misery from the boss.

    1. Burnout is no joke, Gunther. Many people feel the same way you do. Are you in a position to make a career change? Many people have made some big changes since the pandemic, and are looking to businesses that better support their staff, mental health-wise and other. Even if you can't make a jump now, it may be something to think about. Not sure if this article will be helpful to you, but it can't hurt: Job Burnout? Maybe it's Time For a Career Change We are wishing you luck.

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