Why We Procrastinate and How to Stop


Faith Patton

There are dozens and dozens of way to avoid doing something. Put it off for later, “yeah I’ll do it in five minutes”, watch Netflix or simply just lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. I’m guilty of this. Most high school kids are — considering the fact that we are nearing the end of the year and ‘senioritis’.

But the truth is, procrastinators are sabotaging themselves. They are putting unnecessary obstacles in their way and making things more difficult. Needless to say, procrastination is one of those things that you may do without even fully realizing it.

Procrastinators aren’t born. They are made. The traits are learned from family members but not directly. It can be a response to an overbearing and controlling parent. Say a father who keeps his children from learning the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and acting on them. Procrastination can even be considered a form of rebellion.

But there’s more than one type of procrastinator. Dr. Ferrari, professor of Psychology at  DePaul University in Chicago, identified three of them. There’s the arousal types (or thrill seekers) who like the rush of doing something at the last-minute. Secondly, there’s the avoider type, who are afraid of failure or even success. But in either case, avoider’s are very concerned with what other’s think about them. And lastly, there’s the decision procrastinators, who simply cannot make a decision.

Senior Maureen Palmer was asked about procrastination and how it applied to her, “For me it comes from a fear of failing so I ignore deadlines until the last-minute possible. The work I do doesn’t turn out as good as I make it. I sit there an actively think “I shouldn’t be procrastinating” but I do anyways. I avoid thinking about deadlines. But there really is point where you just have to do it and get it out of the way.”

Now that we have identified a few reasons why we procrastinate, how do stop procrastinating?

There are three basic options.

The first is make the rewards of long-term behavior more immediate. One way to do this is to imagine your future self enjoying the benefits.

The second is make the costs of procrastination more immediate.  There are a dozen of ways to force yourself to come face to face with the costs of procrastination sooner rather than later. If you skip working out next week, you won’t notice all that much. If you continue to skip working out, you’ll notice the costs weeks and months later. If anything, set a public deadline or place a bet on your behavior.

And the third is to remove procrastination triggers from your environment. It doesn’t make much brain power to figure out why this works. It’s much easier to make the right choices if you are surrounded by better choices.