If you think you have a procrastination problem, know that you’re not the only one (quite the contrary).
Recent studies from 2023 have shown the percentage of adults considered chronic procrastinators has become almost 20%, compared to 5% in 1970.
But how can you understand if you actually have a problem of this type?
In this article, I will show you the primary examples of procrastination in various everyday contexts.
This way, you will understand what actions are keeping you from achieving your goals and what to do to fix them.
As an account manager tasked with managing a team of people and achieving goals within a time target, I know how dangerous procrastination can be, so I will help you identify and recognize it.
- Procrastination can be caused by decision-making paralysis, perfectionism, lack of motivation, poor time management and disorganization, overthinking or lack of clarity.
- Strategies such as goal-setting with defined deadlines, taking accountability, and reward systems can help overcome procrastination.
- Perfectionist tendencies should be identified early to prevent them from leading to avoidance rather than action-taking behavior.
- A combination of self-awareness techniques may increase productivity while decreasing fatigue levels stemming from chronic procrastination.
Understanding what is and the negative impact of procrastination
But what is it exactly?
Basically, procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing essential tasks to do less significant jobs instead.
This is a severe problem, especially when you need to get things done at work or in your personal life, as procrastination hurts your time management.
Fortunately, there is a solution to all this: to develop accountability.
The importance of accountability to stop procrastinating
Accountability involves taking responsibility for our decisions and actions, which can be achieved through setting clear, achievable goals with defined deadlines.
Holding others to the same standards as oneself is an essential part of accountability that helps individuals stay on track and stick to their commitments.
For example, if you are struggling with procrastination, having an “accountability partner” or support system can also help you stay accountable by providing encouragement, feedback, guidance, and approval when needed.
Moreover, it allows you to learn from mistakes and better manage your time and tasks.
Overcoming these habits requires discipline, effort, willpower, and determination – all are supported by strategies for overcoming procrastination, such as goal setting, reminders/alarms coupled with reward systems, or positive affirmations.
Examples of Procrastination In the Workplace
In the workplace, it is expected to see examples of procrastination often.
80% of employees procrastinate for at least one hour a day, and even if at first glance it seems little, I can assure you that it really has a significant impact on your performance.
Decision-making paralysis is a form of procrastination resulting from too much thought and consideration, leading to delays in action and meeting your goals and deadlines.
It can occur in the workplace when you hesitate or put off making decisions due to perfectionism, fear of failure, lack of motivation, or clarity on goals and instructions.
A very common case is when you have to choose between two or more options, and when in doubt, you cannot make any decision.
I am a perfectionist in the workplace: I always try to complete a job by checking it down to the smallest detail, ensuring it is without defects.
However, I recognize that sometimes I overdo it and that it is blocking me from achieving my goals and wasting precious time.
This is due to the fear of making mistakes and getting criticism from co-workers, which often keeps people from even starting their tasks, leading to decision-making paralysis.
So, the next time you find yourself analyzing even the most minor details of a job you are doing, know that you are somehow procrastinating due to this fear of judgment.
When tasks are not perceived as exciting or enjoyable, they will be put off until another time.
And this, of course, leads to poor performance.
This is why companies and managers must provide realistic workloads and open lines of communication between staff and management.
Overthinking can fuel anxiety, which reduces one’s ability or willingness to complete any task swiftly and efficiently, making it all too easy for employees to become stuck in self-destructive mental cycles that contribute heavily towards procrastination.
Chaotic Work Habits
The lack of order can make meeting deadlines overwhelming and even impossible.
Even completing a relatively simple task can become extremely difficult if you can’t manage your time.
They will help you avoid wasting time on actions that are not so profitable, giving you the chance to get back control of your life.
If you want to stop procrastinating, you need to stop overthinking.
Overanalyzing a task can become complex and convoluted, such that it feels like progress is impossible.
Overthinking creates an endless cycle of self-doubt and anxiety about reaching success with a project or assigned task, ultimately detrimental to productivity in both professional and academic settings.
Making decisions by overanalyzing a situation can lead to indecisiveness without adequate justification for why one choice was made over another; these hesitations only serve to stifle progress within any given environment.
Lack of Clarity
Without clear and concise instructions with accompanying deadlines or expectations, taking meaningful action on your assigned projects cannot be easy.
For instance, employees may delay work due to not knowing where to start, feeling overwhelmed by a lack of guidance or resources, and making decisions that are too abstract given the limited information they have access to.
Clear communication with your colleagues or team can help you avoid procrastinating because you’re not clear on what to do, so make sure you have a clear idea of your goals and how to achieve them.
Abstract goals, or goals without concrete steps that explain how to reach those goals, maybe one of the reasons why employees put off completing tasks or lack clarity when attempting a project.
For instance, you can aim to “increase customer engagement” but not understand what you need to do.
Even if this task is broken down into smaller milestones like answering emails from customers or providing them personalized experiences online shopping, without clear instructions on executing these steps, you will struggle with motivation and focus solely on accomplishing the task, leading to procrastination.
When evaluating motivation levels among your team members, make sure you provide concrete action points that clearly illustrate each step needed to complete projects successfully.
Chronic procrastination is not the same as occasional procrastination, and its effects are often far more damaging.
This form of procrastinating is a recurrent issue in which people use delaying tactics to avoid tasks that they find overwhelming or complicated.
It leads to missed deadlines and opportunities, poor performance at work or school, feel a sense of guilt and failure, and accumulating overload in life.
I assure you from personal experience that all this can really ruin your working life.
You will lose trust from your team, you will have less and less self-esteem, and you will feel less and less motivated, affecting your mental health conditions.
Procrastination examples for students
From optimistic time goals to misunderstanding the task, procrastination can take many forms in school, and it’s essential to identify which type impacts your academic performance.
According to APA, 80-95% of students procrastinate, highlighting how common a problem it is in this area too.
Underestimating Time Requirements
Setting realistic time goals ensures you don’t procrastinate when tackling a task or project.
However, students often underestimate the time required and may struggle to achieve their goals.
My advice is to overestimate the time required for studying a specific subject or to prepare for an exam.
In this case, if you manage to complete it in less time, you will feel more motivated and be on track.
Starting Point Confusion
Not knowing where to begin a task can be a significant obstacle for many, but this is especially true for students.
The lack of structure and guidance can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed and unable to start their work.
This form of procrastination leads to missed deadlines, low grades, and feelings of discouragement or defeat.
To overcome it, you need clarity around which tasks you must complete first or what steps should be taken to move forward and stay focused on the tasks at hand.
Examples like breaking down large projects into smaller goals will provide organized direction that makes progress feel tangible.
Poor Study Habits
Students often struggle with a lack of motivation, time management skills, and apathy towards their studies.
This can lead to procrastinating on assignments or tasks until the last minute, making them harder to complete.
Other everyday poor study habits include distractions such as social media or electronic devices like phones or tablets, fatigue from insufficient sleep, and the overload of too many commitments leading up to the inability to spread oneself out appropriately over multiple tasks.
As mentioned, distractions are among the most common causes of procrastination for students in school.
Social media, phone notifications, or friends can take your mind off your work and make it easy to veer from the tasks.
Again, tools like app blockers can help you optimize your time management, moving you away from distractions.
Too Many Commitments
A common reason why people procrastinate is feeling overwhelmed by too many things to do.
Especially for a student, it becomes challenging to find the motivation to complete all the tasks and deadlines.
In this case, my advice is to develop better time management and recognize the not-so-important activities to which you should dedicate less time.
The goal is breaking down significant goals into smaller, manageable chunks and creating realistic time schedules that account for any distractions throughout the day.
Procrastination Examples In Real Life
An ordinary person wastes 218 minutes avoiding necessary work in his personal life.
Stopping procrastination can let you take back control of your time and give the ability to complete the most important tasks for reaching your goals.
Delaying or postponing a task
One of the most common examples of procrastination is putting off important tasks.
I bet you, too, have been in a situation where you need to make a decision or do a difficult task, but you kept putting it off day by day.
And you always found ways to avoid this problem until time ran out and you found yourself unprepared for the situation you faced.
When you feel like you’re in this situation again, think about your negative emotions and what you would feel if you solved this problem right away, rather than keep putting off tasks.
Quitting bad habits
We all know that smoking, drinking alcohol, and not doing sport is bad for you.y
And we also know that we should stay consistent in working out, but we dont’.
Yet, every time we try to give up a vice, we throw in the towel after a while.
Procrastination includes telling yourself things like “I’ll try hard on Monday” or “I’m not good enough today.”
Be careful because this type of procrastination can lead you to have no energy during the day and wake up unmotivated.
If you have a hard day the next day and go to bed at midnight instead of 10 pm, lack of sleep can destroy all your good intentions.
And you will find yourself with more and more tasks on your to-do list, making you feel psychological pressure and procrastinate even more.
The Five Main Types of Procrastination
Procrastination can have negative consequences in everyone’s life.
But as seen in these examples, there are essential differences, which allow us to summarize five different types of procrastinatiors:
- The Dreamer
- The Perfectionist
- The Worrier
- The Crisis Maker
- The Overdoer
There are some commonalities for each of these types of procrastinators, such as the need to divide their goals into micro-tasks and develop time management skills.
However, it is vital to underline that each of them needs a different and personalized approach to solve the problem thoroughly.
The Science of Why We Procrastinate
From a scientific perspective, there are several reasons why people may procrastinate.
Fear of failure is one major factor that can lead to procrastination;, when we anticipate or even fear that an endeavor won’t achieve what was hoped for, it can be difficult to start the task.
Perfectionism is similarly linked to procrastination – trying to make everything perfect often results in staying stuck on a task because nothing ever seems “good enough.”
On top of this, our brains reward us with dopamine whenever we take center stage and distract ourselves from overwhelming work by engaging in activities such as scrolling through social media.
Our brain also loves deadlines as they act like lighthouses, assuring where allocating energy should go and how much time remains before doing something else entirely should be explored.
Common Lies and Excuses in Procrastination
Procrastinators are often good at convincing themselves with seemingly powerful excuses.
Here are some phrases that may seem familiar to you:
- “I don’t have enough time” – Even though we may seem pressed for time, there are usually enough hours if you plan ahead of schedule or prioritize tasks effectively.
- “I just need a break” – A break is important, but it should come after completing your task and not be used as an excuse for avoiding responsibilities.
- “It can wait until tomorrow” – This type of thinking leads to multiple deadlines looming at once and increased pressure when completing the task itself due to the lack of remaining time frame
- “My family obligations take precedence over my work commitments.” – As an Italian, I agree that family comes first; however, this doesn’t mean you should put off workplace duties indefinitely with no intention of doing them eventually.
- “It would force me outside my comfort zone.” – Taking on challenges and pushing oneself out of our comfort zone does take courage, but it can also help us to become more efficient over time while also growing professionally and personally in terms of capabilities related to communication, problem-solving, and decision making.
In this article, I hope you have understood the negative consequences of being a procrastinator and the common situations in which we adopt this behavior.
Only you can decide whether to get back on track and regain control of your life or continue to be unmotivated and move further and further away from realizing your dreams.
When you face one of these examples of procrastination, remember that they are behaviors that do nothing but harm you, but you can choose not to fall into temptation!