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13 Reasons Why People Procrastinate ★ And How To Stop

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The average person spends 55 days a year procrastinating! 94% admit that procrastination makes them unhappy. So, why don’t they stop?
As you’ll see, there are hidden reasons why people procrastinate.

And it’s not laziness.

Are you sick of procrastinating despite your good intentions? Always playing catch-up instead of living up to your potential…

You know procrastinating is bad…so why are you doing it?

More importantly, how can you stop procrastinating, stop feeling guilty – and be proud of your work ethic?

Read on to discover 13 reasons why we procrastinate. And how you can beat this harmful habit that’s ruining your life.

Here’s what we’ll discuss

But before we dive into the sneaky reasons why people procrastinate, let’s define the problem…

What is procrastination?

“Procrastination is a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences” – (Joseph R. Ferrari, Ph.D.)

However you define procrastination… You procrastinate to avoid a daunting task.

Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday

Napoleon Hill
Why people procrastinate definition
Procrastination ruins your happiness

About 20% of adults identify as chronic procrastinators.

No matter in which country you live.

For college students, it’s even worse… 3 out of 4 students identify as procrastinators, probably because they tend to:

  • Overestimate their future motivation
  • Underestimate how long assignments will take
  • Overestimate how much time they have left
  • Assume they need to be inspired to start working

Procrastination is not about laziness

Here’s the thing: You don’t procrastinate because you’re lazy. So why do you wait until the last minute to finish your projects?

This lack of motivation messes with your self-esteem and with your happiness.

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing” – Theodore Roosevelt

The 13 reasons why people procrastinate all applied to me at one point. I may even struggle with several reasons at once.

Let’s see why you really procrastinate. And how you overcome chronic procrastination for good.

So what do people procrastinate on?

You may have the perfect To-Do-List and the latest Time-Management Hacks.
Yet, you can’t find the willpower to get things done.

And you feel terrible about it.

You tend to procrastinate on tasks like:

  • Studying
  • Asking for what you want
  • Managing your finances
  • Updating your resume and searching for a job
  • Start networking
  • Making an important decision
  • Starting your own business

But it can also be on unimportant tasks.

And you know what?
Procrastination isn’t always obvious, like watching TV or scrolling through social media.

Reasons why we procrastinate with Netflix
Procrastinating bingeing shows

“Being busy” is another form of procrastination called productive procrastination. Because you’re still putting off what you should be doing.

“So, how’s your project? Any progress?”
“No, but I cleaned my inbox, sorted my documents into categories, and rearranged my socks by color.”

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.

Robert Benchley

Once you understand why you’re procrastinating, you can do something about it.

So let’s dive into the 13 reasons why we procrastinate

Common reasons why people procrastinate: Lack of direction

Analysis Paralysis kills your productivity.

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re getting nowhere.

So, one way to stop procrastinating is to define the results you want.

You need to figure out why it matters what you’re doing!
So ask yourself what you want to achieve in life.

1.You have no focus

To get the career / business of your dreams, you must know what to focus on.

Your brain makes thousands of decisions every day. It’s paralyzing to have no priorities.

That’s why your mind needs a clear vision to filter the importance of your tasks.

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.

John Carmack

Without focus, your brain gets overwhelmed and picks something easy like watching your favorite show.

Don’t know where to start?

Warren Buffett’s 5/25 rule helps you understand which projects you have to drop. And if you want Ninja focus, the Ninja Vision Workbook is your step-by-step guide to identify your priorities.

When you know what to focus on, it’s easier to stay consistent and do the work! Focus beats procrastination

2.Your goals are blurry

A goal is a specific outcome you want to achieve.

And when your goals are blurry, your brain gets confused. Simply wanting “more money”, doesn’t tell your brain what to do.

Compare this to earning “$6,000 within the next 3 months by selling merchandise on Social Media”. When your goals are specific, your brain can immediately imagine logical next steps you need to take.

People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going

Earl Nightingale

You must know exactly what you want. You need a clear vision and a specific target.

Ninja Goal Planner
Get the printable Ninja Goal Planner

3.People procrastinate because the deadline is vague

Remember… focus is important. And you need specific goals.
But you must also set concrete deadlines.

If it doesn’t matter when something is due, you’ll put it off indefinitely.

So, set a deadline – and stick to it.

And no cheating. Your made-up dates still count.
You want to stop procrastinating, right?

What may be done at any time will be done at no time

Scottish Proverb

4.You feel overwhelmed

“There’s so much to do. I don’t even know where to start”.

It’s daunting to think about what you

  • have to do
  • should do
  • and want to do

You feel overwhelmed without a clear vision or strategic goals.

Take the guesswork out of your priorities. Clearly identify your life’s vision and set specific goals.

With clear goals, you’ll also be able to say “no” to activities that don’t matter.

Faced with overwhelming tasks, you often end up doing nothing.

Reasons why we procrastinate: Overwhelm

If you procrastinate when faced with a big difficult problem… break the problem into parts, and handle one part at a time

Robert Collier

More reasons why people procrastinate: Momentum issues

Have you heard of momentum? Imagine a car going down the hill.

You forgot to put on the brakes. And now it rolls down the street without you, gathering speed.
It’s gaining momentum – and you can’t stop it.

So let’s see how momentum influences you, too.

5.You have bad momentum

Do you ever do something inefficiently?

You know you’d be faster if you got a different tool or changed position.
But you continue because you’re already in the middle of it.
That’s because you have momentum.

Momentum can be positive or negative.

Remember the last time you were inspired, highly productive, and breezed through your to-do list?

That‘s beautiful, positive momentum.

But when you have no momentum, it takes more energy to get started than what you’d need for continuing your activity.

Ever noticed how hard it is to get your butt off the couch? But once you’re up, you take care of a few things before you sit back down?

When you have no momentum, don’t tackle something big. Start with a small, simple action. Then another. And another. That will get your momentum going.

And if nothing gives, you may need to relax and save your to-do list for later.

6.You want to do it perfectly

As a recovering perfectionist, this is one of the sneaky reasons why people procrastinate.

Procrastination for perfectionists shows up in 2 ways.

You haven’t finished your assignment, but you can’t stop tweaking tiny details. Wasting days.
It’s like rewriting your intro 30 times, although you still have 3 more pages to write…

Done is better than perfect

Sheryl Sandberg
Reasons why we procrastinate: Perfectionism
Perfectionism is also one of the reasons why we procrastinate

So what’s the second way perfectionism sabotages your motivation?

Your perfectionism convinces you that you’ll never get it right. So why bother?

Why go through the pain of disappointing yourself?
It’s much easier to do something that puts less pressure on you instead.

But here’s the truth…

Perfection is overrated. It’s a huge waste of time.

Don’t aim for perfection. Make something great. And often, just “good” is enough. Once this clicks, you’ll get much more productive.

It’s not worth wasting an entire day because the button color isn’t perfect. Or because you don’t love the sentence you wrote.

7.You’re missing a skill

Here’s the deal.

Sometimes you can’t complete tasks because you lack a skill. Since you can’t snap your fingers to learn it, this is holding you back.

Learning it would cost time or money – or both. It’s too much hassle, so you put off doing something about it.

When you procrastinate because you lack a necessary skill, decide whether you’ll learn it or not.

8.You’re exhausted

“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be more disciplined?”
Procrastination has a bad reputation and makes you feel guilty.

That said, sometimes you procrastinate because you’re exhausted!

Reasons why people procrastinate: Exhaustion
Procrastinating or exhausted?

You don’t have to hustle until you pass out. It’s okay to rest.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it” – Sydney J. Harris

Sometimes, you simply have to recharge your batteries.

Doing something you enjoy, gives you the energy to start fresh. So, taking a day off from your to-do list can help you stop procrastinating.

But let’s look at our final category of reasons why people procrastinate…

“Other people” are also reasons why people procrastinate

Other people can influence how much you procrastinate. But before you get all excited, wait!

This is not a Get Out of Jail Free card.
You are responsible for your actions (and non-actions). So it’s your job to motivate yourself.

But sometimes, other people can be part of the reason why we procrastinate.

Let’s see how!

9.You’re stuck waiting for others

What do you mean, stuck waiting for others?

In “Getting things done” from 2001, David Allen presents a system to increase your productivity, pre-internet and pre-smartphone.

In his book, he had a category called “Waiting for…”.
This is for tasks where someone else has to do something before you can continue working on your project.

Like a mechanic has to repair your broken car before you can sell it.
You can only wait until he’s done. And you don’t feel guilty about it.

Procrastinating or waiting?
Procrastinating or waiting?

But here’s the tricky part of your procrastination puzzle

Often it’s less obvious that you need someone’s input.

Think about tasks you’ve been postponing…
You may find that you would hit a roadblock shortly, even if you’re not stuck yet.

You could still work on your project for a while longer, but you procrastinate because:

  • You need information and don’t know whom to ask
  • You need your boss’s approval. But she’s not available, or you don’t want to disturb her
  • You’ve asked someone 4 times already, and you’d rather not ask again

So you put off working on your task completely because you’d be stuck pretty soon… But you don’t realize that missing input is the reason – so you just feel guilty.

10.You hate what you’re doing

Alright, this is a no-brainer. Doing something to avoid trouble, isn’t motivating.

We’ve all procrastinated on tasks someone else dumped on us. Like chores.
Or whatever your boss told you to do.

But sometimes, you have to eat the frog.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” – Mark Twain

You can try negotiating with the person who expects you to do the task you hate.

But if that’s not an option, shift your mindset around this dreadful activity.

Here’s how to stop procrastinating when your task sucks:

Don’t fixate on how frustrating and unfair it is. Do it now to avoid trouble later.
You’ll be done with it instead of obsessing about it all day!

And then you can do something more fun. Guilt-free.

11.Other people procrastinate, too

You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with

Jim Rohn

Are the people close to you hard-working, inspiring, and uplifting?

Your environment influences your behavior, and procrastination may seem normal to you.
How can you stop procrastinating if everyone is doing it?

You’ll be less motivated. And before you know it, you are unproductive and avoid doing the work.

Find driven people who naturally boost your motivation. People with work ethics you admire.

Of course…

It is no one’s job to motivate you. Ultimately, that’s your responsibility.
But it can be hard to be self-disciplined when no one else is.

Find motivating people to stop procrastinating
Find motivating people to stop procrastinating

12.You are afraid of failure

The fear of failure is a huge reason why people procrastinate.
No one wants to be a loser.

Thinking you’re lazy doesn’t hurt nearly as much as the heartbreak of not achieving your dreams.

Procrastination can be a defense mechanism.

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult


Imagine handing in a project you finished last minute. If the result isn’t good, you have an excuse…

You clearly couldn’t do your best because you “had no time”.

Believing that your work wasn’t up to par because you were “too lazy” to start sooner is reassuring.
It would be devastating to give it your all – and discover you weren’t up to the task.

You procrastinate to protect yourself

If you never fully commit, you can’t get hurt.

But guess what?

While this seems like a great plan, you’re self-rejecting your dreams and ambitions.
If you don’t dare to take risks, you’ll never have the life you want.

A great trick is to stop seeing failure as this big, terrifying humiliation.

Think of it as an experiment. You’re trying things…

And if you really do fail, you get valuable feedback and information. This will help you do better next time.

“Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure.

William Saroyan

This mindset will ease your fear of failure and help you overcome procrastination.

And now we get to the mind-blowing reason why people procrastinate

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13.You fear success

The fear of success makes you sabotage your progress.

“Now, that’s ridiculous. Why would I be scared of success?”

This one can be subconscious, as are many of the 13 reasons why people procrastinate.

Think about it…

You think you want to be successful. It may be all you dream about 24/7.

But deep down, your success comes with a risk.

What if your family and friends think you’re a bad person if you have money and status?
Or if they suspect you think you’re better than they?

Why people procrastinate: Fear of Success
Why people procrastinate: Fear of Success

What if they make fun of your ambitions? And it’s not just them.

Maybe you’d even feel self-conscious around strangers. People can judge you, your success, and your money…

Although you want to be successful, you may feel guilty about it. And so you procrastinate and self-sabotage without knowing why.

You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will

Stephen King

How to overcome procrastination once and for all

As you can see, you always have a deeper reason why you’re procrastinating.
Sometimes, you even struggle with several issues at the same time.

You finally understand where your lack of motivation comes from.
But now you have the tools to get started, stay focused, and complete your tasks.

Get your 13 reasons why people procrastinate infographic!

I’m convinced that this list of reasons why people procrastinate opened your eyes…

At the very least, it should stop you from beating yourself up for being a chronic procrastinator. And hopefully, it helps you stop procrastinating for good.

Laziness has nothing to do with your lack of motivation. Once you identify why you procrastinate, you know how to stop!

Bonus FAQ About Procrastination

What’s procrastination?

Procrastination is the action of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so. (Wikipedia)
A procrastinator can’t “get to work,” especially when it doesn’t give him instant gratification.

What’s the root cause of procrastination?

There is no root cause for why people procrastinate. As you can see in this article, various reasons are at play. But procrastination is not about laziness.

What is chronic procrastination?

Procrastinating is called chronic procrastination when it is so intense that it becomes a personality trait.

What is productive procrastination?

You deal with productive procrastination when you keep busy with all sorts of productive activities except the task you’re putting off.

Active procrastination vs. passive procrastination

Active procrastination means you intentionally put off decisions and actions because you prefer to work under the pressure of a looming deadline.
Passive procrastination means it’s not your choice. You procrastinate because you’re unable to get things on time. This leads to poor performance and increased stress.

What are the 4 types of procrastinators?

Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert distinguish between 4 procrastination personality types:
the performer, the self-deprecator, the overbooker, and the novelty seeker.

The performer works well under pressure and is motivated by short deadlines.
Self-deprecators blame themselves for being lazy – when in fact they are exhausted and need a break.
The overbooker actively keeps busy and uses juggling multiple activities as an excuse to avoid the task they procrastinate on.
The novelty seeker suffers from shiny object syndrome. They get excited about new projects and lose interest a week later.

How to stop procrastinating?

The first step to stop procrastinating is to identify why you do it. Which of the 13 reasons why people procrastinate applies to you? When you know what’s causing it, you can beat procrastination.

Watch this hilarious Ted talk about procrastination

Dealing with procrastination can be fun. I highly recommend you watch Tim Urban’s Ted talk, “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

Bonus : Fun quotes about procrastination

“I’m not a procrastinator. I’m just extremely productive at unimportant things” – Anonymous

Nothing says work efficiency like panic mode

Don Roff

“Procrastination taught me how to do 30 minutes of work in 8 hours and 8 hours of work in 30 minutes.” – Unknown

Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing! – Donald Gardner

“I’m good at multitasking and procrastinating, which means right now there are at least 28 things that I’m putting off until later.”

I’m very busy doing things I don’t need to do in order to avoid doing anything I’m actually supposed to be doing


“I do my work at the same time each day — the last minute.”

Warning: dates on this calendar are closer than they appear

Okay, now you can start working on what you need to do, haha.
To a great, productive future,

Improve yourself. Improve your life!

PS: Comment below why you procrastinate or which reason blew your mind!

★ Make sure you share this article with your friends and family. Help everyone become more productive! ★

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In just 30 minutes, learn how you…
☆ Clarify your priorities ☆ Set the right goals ☆ Make tracking fun ☆ Stay motivated

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Terrance

    After looking over a few of the articles on your website, I truly like your way of blogging. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon.

  2. Maria

    I loved it, it’s so great of you to get this accurate information

    1. Learning Ninja

      Thank you. You are welcome!

  3. Akhil

    Good article.. Summer up a lot of details precisely.

    1. Learning Ninja

      Thank you! There really are many reasons why people procrastinate.

      1. Maria

        I like this

  4. Kiran

    I have never managed to finish any article on why we procrastinate. This marks the first and the best one already. You’ve dealt with the issues so systematically and clearly. Already downloaded a copy of this. Thank you! Nice work. 🙂

    1. Learning Ninja

      How funny that you couldn’t finish reading articles on procrastination 🙂
      And thank you so much for your great comment. I’m thrilled!

  5. Pooja

    Worth reading article…Its really helping me… Thank you very much!!!

    1. Learning Ninja

      You are very welcome! Now you can stop procrastinating 🙂

  6. Ganesh

    I feel relaxed and calm after reading this.thank you so much.wanna more content to read as this

    1. Learning Ninja

      Thank you very much! I’ll do my best for more great and helpful content

  7. Kude

    This article is amazing. A real eye opener. I think its something that everyone should read.

    1. Learning Ninja

      Thank you so much! I’m glad this helps

  8. Sudha

    This article is mind-blowing! Seriously mind-blowing, I have never read something so clear than this! Hats off to you🙂

    1. Learning Ninja

      Wow! Thank you so much. I hope it helps you with procrastination

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