Procrastination: Its Opposite and Its Causes
The word “procrastination” comes from the Latin “procrastinare,” which means “to postpone until tomorrow.” Procrastination is the act of postponing a task or a set of tasks in order to avoid the discomfort of doing them in the present moment.
Precrastination: The Opposite of Procrastination
We’re all familiar with procrastination, which is the unfortunate tendency to put things off until later. What’s less commonly known, however, is that there exists an opposite and equally unproductive tendency that, unlike procrastination, is generally well-received by most people. It’s called “precrastination.”
Precrastination is the inclination to want to do everything right away. It’s the act of hurrying to complete a given task as soon as it presents itself.
A client sends you an email requesting a service? You drop everything you’re doing to respond.
Your boss asks you to complete a task? You interrupt your current tasks to attend to it immediately. You receive divine guidance to pray or read a Bible verse, and you drop everything to attend to it right away.
Precrastination is often the reflex of conscientious, perfectionist, and sometimes anxious individuals.
The Causes of Procrastination
Now, let’s return to procrastination. What explains our tendency to postpone tasks that we could accomplish today? In fact, there are multiple causes of procrastination, but here are the most common ones.
Fear of Failure
Procrastination can be driven by a fear of failure. You dread taking action because you believe that if you perform the task and fail, you’ll end up disappointed and might also disappoint your loved ones. So, you’d rather do nothing to avoid the potential disappointment.
Fear of Success
Sometimes, you can also procrastinate out of a fear of success. You think that success would entail assuming new responsibilities or finding yourself in an unfamiliar situation and not being up to the challenge. Therefore, you procrastinate because your current situation, at least, is familiar.
You may procrastinate because you strive for perfection. You place immense pressure on yourself, and as your self-expectations and the tasks become overwhelming, you become discouraged and prefer to postpone them.
The Task Is Repellent
If the task you need to accomplish repels you, you are more likely to procrastinate. Since the task seems boring, you can’t find the motivation to do it. As a result, you push it to the bottom of your to-do list to avoid it for as long as possible.
The Task Is Daunting
When facing a large project or an ambitious task, you don’t always know where to begin. It feels like you’re standing in front of a mountain. You feel so overwhelmed that you procrastinate instead of tackling this intimidating work.
The Task Is Trivial
When you perceive a task as unimportant, you tend to procrastinate because you think that not doing it today won’t matter. Consequently, you keep pushing it off repeatedly.
Lack of Energy
Sometimes, it’s not the task itself that makes you procrastinate but rather your lack of energy. If you’re going through an emotionally challenging situation, if you’re ill or tired, for example, you’ll find it more difficult to get to work. Therefore, you tend to postpone the task.
There are many other causes of procrastination, but the seven you’ve just seen are the primary ones.
These causes can also combine with one another. For example, you might procrastinate because a task is both repellent and daunting or because it’s daunting and you fear success.
In general, you don’t procrastinate because you’re lazy, but rather because you struggle to manage the negative emotions associated with the task you’re procrastinating on.
This text is an excerpt from the book “Overcoming the Spirit of PROCRASTINATION” GUSTAVE LUKUSA JR.