The Psychology Behind Procrastinaion

2 minute read

Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily delaying something. This feeling occurs when we do not have the motivation to complete a task, so we put it off. The best way to beat this emotion is to first understand why it occurs, then, challenge those cues.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination occurs when an underlying negative emotion can occur during what we want to do, which hinders our willpower to complete the task. For example, when studying for a Physics exam, you might feel anxiety because if you do poorly on the test, then you will receive an unsatisfactory grade in the class. Therefore, this feeling of anxiety will unconsciously prevent you from studying until the last minute. It is hard to exhibit the willpower to do something when our motivation to do said thing has been hindered by an unpleasant emotion.

How Do We Stop?

The first step to avoiding procrastination is having a defined goal. Sticking with the physics exam, our goal is to learn about gravity and Newton’s Laws of Motion. This includes what each law does, how it came about, and the general details and definitions of gravity.

Now that our task has been broken down it is easier to associate our negative emotions to each portion of the task. As stated above, we feel anxiety because we must do well on the test. Since we have broken down what needs to be studied, we can assess what sections we are proficient in, and which ones we perform poorly in.

As a result, we can adjust our studying schedule accordingly. Since we know Newton’s Second Law of Gravity the most, we are going to study this topic first. This will help increase our focus, so we can exhibit more willpower later on. Furthermore, our confidence will be increased because we will realize how much we already know, making it easier to study the harder topics. If we continue this process, then it will be easier to study because we are decreasing the negative emotions from studying.

These are the general steps to decrease procrastination:

> 1. Define a Goal
> 2. Break Down Your Goal
> 3. Associate Negative Emotions with Each Section
> 4. Adjust schedule accordingly (preferably with easier items first)


We procrastinate because we want to avoid the negative emotions associated with a given task. The best way to beat this, is to understand the reason we procrastinate. Then, define a goal and break it up into several sections. Associate the negative emotions with each section and adjust your schedule accordingly.