Procrastination is an Emotional Issue

I recently wrote a blog post on Procrastination is Exhausting This question came from a reader.

Question from Alan

What did you mean when you said “Procrastination is not a time management issue. It is an emotional issue?”

Good question from Alan because in that post I gave some strategies for managing procrastination with better organisation and time management. I only mentioned in passing that procrastination is an emotional issue.

The irony is that many people, if not most, would use those strategies and they may work one or two times, but then they would find themselves procrastinating again. Why? Strategies, which sit well within your rational and logical self, only work when they are aligned, and work hand in hand, with your emotional self.

Many people who struggle with procrastination have all kinds of emotional obstacles blocking their success. They procrastinate for a whole range of reasons, some of which are below.

  • The task requires you to stretch yourself. It feels “too hard”. It is very demanding.
  • It is boring, irrelevant or meaningless.
  • You fear you won’t be able to do it to the expected standard. It won’t be “good enough”.
  • You keep chasing bright shining objects (BSOs) instead of focusing on what’s before you.
  • You are physically exhausted, tired and stressed.
  • You are overwhelmed and overloaded and can’t focus priorities.
  • You are jaded and disillusioned in this job and actually are procrastinating about many tasks.

Behind every one of these reasons is the need for you to manage yourself better – manage your emotions, manage your energy, manage your expectations, for example. All of these reasons have a whole lot of emotions underlying them and no number of strategies will resolve those.

Discover How Procrastination is an Emotional Issue

Discovering why you are procrastinating is the first step in overcoming it. If you can’t do that alone, debrief with a trusted colleague or get some mentoring or coaching.

You will find that the reason requires you to do some work on yourself and this usually needs some professional help from a mentor or coach. This is a reflective process to unpack what you are feeling and where that feeling came from. It also involves a struggle with yourself and it is always good to have someone like a mentor to walk that road with you, someone who has been there before you. You are not alone then in overcoming your procrastination and what underpins it.

The outcome of that reflective mentoring process will see you understanding yourself better and confident in moving forward. You will then be able to use strategies to manage yourself, your energy and your time better.

3 Recommended References if you want to understand this better.

My Leadership Development Program Booklet that spells out the self-leadership journey. I don’t conduct this as a workshop/masterclass anymore, but I do find that these are the issues that come up for those who come to me for mentoring.

This classic article from the Harvard Business Review – Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.
To be high performing, on top of what you are doing, you need to be a high energy person and high energy people don’t procrastinate.

The book by James Clear – Atomic Habits : An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. This book is a combination of helping you discover the emotional obstacles to you being successful and giving us ways to overcome them by building habits.

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