Beyond Routines: Unpacking the Real Reasons Behind Procrastination

Our brain is wired to chase pleasure and avoid pain. It’s natural to sidestep tasks that seem tough or just downright uncomfortable. But that’s not how life works.

Parents, think about homework. A routine, with straightforward rules about when and what to do, often helps. Adding the promise of a fun reward, like some video game time, can be a motivator, at least at the beginning.

Routines work because they clear our mind and direct our focus on doing what we wish to accomplish.

But if, like many of us, you sometimes push things to the last minute, you’ll notice routines aren’t always the full answer. They can reduce resistance, but without tackling the root issue, they’re just a short-term solution.

Here’s the hard truth: We can get incredibly creative when we’re trying to put off our tasks. It’s almost an art when we want to dodge the hard stuff.

So, what’s a better approach?

For me, diving deep into the problem is key. It’s about igniting that internal drive to change my ways. I often ponder why I delay doing a task:

  • Is this about fearing failure?
  • Is it the imposter syndrome peeking through?
  • Do I feel stuck because the task looks mountainous, and I don’t know where to start?
  • Maybe my inner perfectionist is causing the stall.
  • Am I just worn out today?
  • Or allowing myself to be easily distracted?
  • Or is the task, well, just plain boring?
  • As many students voice out, “It’s forced on me, but what’s the point?”

Every reason needs its own fix, its own tailored strategy. That’s why habits alone won’t be the magic potion against procrastination.

To genuinely beat procrastination, we need to:

  • Change our view of the task ahead.
  • Understand the ‘why’ behind the delay.
  • Reframe the problem.
  • Figure out ways to solve it.

Possible ways to move forward

This might mean changing your environment. Learning what you’re missing. Adapting, being more flexible. Realizing that the task is essential for achieving your goals, or altering your outlook. Then, act.

Sometimes, just knowing why I’m stalling is the kickstart I need.

How do you tackle procrastination? I’m all ears for your tactics.

—- This article was first published by me (Kim Vallee) on More Than STEM.