It's Not Laziness. It's A Severe Condition.
To the millions of people who experience chronic procrastination, it can be discouraging when they are told, consciously or subconsciously:
1. It's their fault.
2. They need to stop complaining and "Just do it."
3. They are lazy or immature.
For the vast majority of chronic procrastinators, these statements are simply untrue.
Almost all who suffer from this condition wish that they were productive. They have dreams and aspirations, goals and ambitions, that are destroyed by a force that is out of their control. Telling them to "just do it" or that they are lazy or undisciplined does not help.
Procrastination of this kind is a disorder, similar to obsessive compulsive disorder or a distortion of body image. Just as you cannot "blame" a person with OCD for their obsessive behavior, and tell them just to "cut it out," most techniques of curing procrastination do not work, since they amount to nothing more than simple advice: prioritize, then do it.
Impoverished In The "Attention Economy."
20% of the United States - the number of people who identify themselves as chronic procrastinators - is a startlingly large number.
However, there is evidence that this number is unprecedented, and that this number will increase.
Why is this a problem?
With technology becoming increasingly more advanced, and our society becoming increasingly specialized, the need to make a choice becomes more and more important.
Will you become a neuroscientist or a work-at-home entrepreneur? Will a mother have children at 16 or 46? Will you spend your time on the internet learning a new language, working to earn a second income, or watching YouTube?
Given so many options, psychological studies have shown:
1. People tend to have "choice paralysis" - they can't make up their minds.
2. When they do choose, they are more likely to choose something that is immediately rewarding, rather than granting long-term benefits.
3. They are less happy with their choice, and therefore learn at a subconscious level that "choosing is bad."
This has lead experts to conclude that we are approaching what is known as an "attention economy" - meaning that focused attention to a single task or decision is a rare and valuable commodity.
In our "attention economy," procrastinators are among the poorest individuals, along with those who have ADHD and other attention disorders.
The Procrastination Mindset.
For those who do not suffer from procrastination, it can be hard to understand. And for those who do, it can be just as hard.
Our organization - composed by several procrastinators and ex-procrastinators, as well as psychologists and social workers - recognizes the diversity of motives behind procrastination.
However, we can say with confidence that the majority of procrastinators have these factors in common:
1. Fear of failure - or more specifically, fear of starting certain tasks because of an imagined, usually unrealistically negative future appraisal of their work if they start the job then. In other words: an overwhelming feeling of being unable to work at a certain standard (perfectionism).
2. Frequent and temporary repression of their responsibilities, allowing them to focus instead on tasks which do not make them afraid.
3. Self-conflict. Procrastinators have the belief, common in childhood, that all pleasure comes from leisure, from these "lack of responsibility tasks," while at the same time believing that it would be best if they produced and achieved at their highest standard.
In essence, these 3 factors lead to an inefficient system of productivity that allows for self-loathing, feelings of inadequacy, and choice paralysis.
For chronic procrastinators, these feelings occur on a daily basis.
Help For Chronic Procrastinators.
Why help procrastinators?
For one, procrastinators come from all different walks of life. They are good people from around the world, many of them with big dreams and ambitions they wish to see realized. Because they cannot realize their goals, and because they feel as if they are wasting their lives, they are suffering greatly.
We are glad to see certain programs and iniatives moving beyond "time management" and towards real solutions to the problem of procrastination.
The one we recommend most is called Fearless Productivity, by ex-procrastinator Paul Brodie.
Other treatments, software, and books we recommend include: The Action Machine, The Now Habit, and Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It.
However, we know that giving you more choices can be counter-productive, so we've decided to do the research and recommend the program we felt had the most to offer chronic procrastinators.
We also encourage procrastinators to seek therapy from a licensed therapist. Let your therapist know that you struggle with procrastination, and that it is not a matter of laziness. Explain your fear of beginning a task, and your therapist should help you to understand it better, so that you can conquer the fear and move forward.