Overcome Procrastination by Understanding Why We Do It

We’re all familiar with procrastination. For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been postponing the tasks we know we should do.

Procrastination is a problem that affects all people, regardless of how they experience it. It’s a force that prevents us from creating the life we want.

This article will show you how procrastination affects us and give you the information to understand it.

Why do we procrastinate so much?

The strangeness of procrastination is that we desperately try to avoid a task we’ve picked as the best way to spend our time. Why is it we know what’s ideal but would much rather do anything else? 

You have two options to answer this question. Time inconsistency DUST Model.

Inconsistency in Time

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Time Inconsistency is our brain’s tendency to value immediate rewards higher than future ones.

The easiest way to understand this concept is to imagine you’re made up of two people: your present self and your future self. When you set a goal—like starting a business—that’s your future self. The goal is to take action that will have long-term positive effects.

Your future self may be able to set goals but only you can actually take actions. Problem is, your current self cares only about immediate gratification. So if your task doesn’t bring an immediate benefit, you’re not going to have any motivation to do it.

It creates an inconsistency between your goals and the reality of what you do. The future self may want to run a side company, while the present self prefers to binge-watch Netflix. This is what causes procrastination.

DUST Model

Procrastination is not rooted in inconsistency in time. However, emotions can also contribute to the problem.

DUST can be used to quickly identify what emotions are causing procrastination.

It is difficult – Challenging tasks lead to procrastination. It is usually caused by a lack of confidence or skills.

Unclear – Unfinished tasks can make it difficult to begin work. This is because you haven’t given yourself a precise outcome to work for.

Scary – Procrastination is greatly influenced by fear. Because our brains are wired to protect us, they will resort to procrastination in order to maintain their safety. 

Tedious – Some tasks we procrastinate on because they are boring necessities. They don’t bring any joy or pleasure, but they have to get done—like filling out a spreadsheet at work.

“Putting off an easy thing makes it hard, and putting off a hard one makes it impossible.” – George H. Lorimer

How to overcome procrastination

Since our present self isn’t motivated by long-term benefits, we need to move future rewards and punishments to the present.  

That’s exactly what happens when you put off a project until the last minute. Although you feel some anxiety in the days leading up to deadline, it is not sufficient to make any changes. Then suddenly, the consequences of the deadline become an immediate concern. So you write the report right before it’s due.

This scenario meant that the report no longer was a goal for the future. This became an obligation for the current self. 

We must stop procrastinating and make it easier for ourselves to start feeling motivated. Here are two ways to do this:

Take the Measure Something

It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. It’s easier to start when you can see how close your actions are to your goals. A great way to make tasks measurable is by using visual cues—like the Paper Clip Strategy.

Let’s say you have to make 100 sales calls in a day. You will need two jars to use the Paper Clip Strategy. One empty and one filled with 100 paperclips. You transfer one paperclip to the empty jar for each call you make until you’re done. 

The power of visual cues is because they work. Endowed Progress Effect—people become motivated when they see their progress towards a goal. You can see your progress and set a goal for your next actions.


The most frustrating tasks are the ones that take many days to finish—like writing a report. It’s possible to work all day and still have an incomplete project. It’s the exact type of work that induces procrastination.

A great way to overcome that feeling of hopelessness is Chunking. It’s when you split your large task into multiple smaller chunks. 

One example of chunking would be the A 15-minute routine author Anthony Trollope used. Instead of tracking his progress in the form of books or chapters, Trollope measured his progress in increments 15 minutes. He would then write 250 words every 15 minutes. This strategy allowed him to make short-term successes while simultaneously contributing to the larger task of writing books.

It’s easier to set small milestones and it gives you greater momentum. It motivates your present self and contributes to your future self’s goal.

The DUST Model:

To lessen our emotions’ impact on procrastination, we can use the following solutions to address the DUST Model. These aren’t groundbreaking ideas, but they serve as a healthy reminder to take action when you’re facing these emotions (rather than suffer through them).

It is difficult – If your task is challenging, giving yourself lots of time to finish is one of the most helpful things you can do. This extra time can be used to acquire the skills needed and develop a plan. You will feel more confident doing this.

Unclear – You need to establish clear goals and a beginning point for your to-do lists. It’s essential to make sure the task itself is actionable and can be finished. For example, instead of saying “Prepare for presentation”, say “Record myself presenting so I can get feedback on Tuesday”. You can make a small, physical change to get a tangible action.

Scary – Fears can stop you moving ahead with a task. Eliminating AmbiguityThis is one of my favorite techniques.

This technique is explained by Tim Ferriss, author Week of 4-hour work. He takes what he’s afraid of and describes every possible outcome (positives and negatives). He then measures the potential outcomes on a 10-point scale. A one being zero impact and a ten being permanent life-altering. 

By doing this, he realized most of what he feared were temporary three’s and four’s, and all the positive outcomes were eights and nines. Meaning he’d be giving up a life-changing opportunity, because of potential discomfort.

Tedious – When a task’s nature is boring and tedious, the best solution is to create an enjoyable environment or give yourself an incentive. This is where joy comes in.

You might be able to listen to music, or podcasts, while you fill out your spreadsheet. Or make a deal with yourself that every 30-minutes, you’ll take a break to walk or scroll through social media.

People are forced to suffer through life because of their procrastination. They sit, suffer, and pass through it—surrendering their opportunity to live it. This guide is designed to help you conquer procrastination in order that you can live the life you dream of.

Addicted 2 Success published the post Overcome Procrastination: Understanding Why We Do it.

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