The Science and Psychology of Why You Procrastinate

by John Soares on August 12, 2014

Do you know the science and psychology of why you procrastinate? 

Hey, we all do it. The goal, though, is to do it less and less so we can become more and more successful as freelance writers or whatever it is we do for a living.

I’ve laid out 50 ways you can overcome procrastination with your writing in my inexpensive Kindle ebook, and I’m happy to share this cool infographic that details what scientific research in the field of psychology tells us about exactly why we do it, and what the consequences are.

The psychology/science of procrastination.

The psychology/science of procrastination. Courtesy Agil8

Your Take

What are the most important takeaways for you? How will they help you procrastinate less and get more done? 

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    { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jennifer Mattern August 12, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Twitter: @Jenn_Mattern

    Good find John. I suspect I fall somewhere between neuroticism and rebelliousness. The former is all about picking the right projects to work on (and hoping they stay enjoyable, which doesn’t always happen). And the latter is largely about giving myself earlier deadlines rather than relying solely on ones from third parties. I often work best under pressure, so quicker self-imposed deadlines put me in that state sooner.
    Jennifer Mattern recently posted…Bloggers: Get More Twitter Mentions and Followers with This Quick Tip

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    2 John Soares August 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    I think we’re similar Jenn. I find that I procrastinate the most when I have a project I don’t enjoy, so that’s why I try to be careful in the projects I accept. However, sometimes it still happens that I get one of “those” projects.

    And the projects I work on are usually quite large, so I have to set a lot of short-term deadlines. Whenever possible, I set deadlines a few days before the project is actually due. That way the client gets a positive surprise.
    John Soares recently posted…Does Your Freelance Writing Niche Have Busy Seasons?

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    3 Anne Wayman August 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    lol, John, when I set deadlines ahead, I know I’ve set them ahead – it just doesn’t work for me. Mostly I don’t procrastinate too much… maybe… seems almost built into either me or some types of projects. Like the cures.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…How To Find Your First Paid Freelance Writing Job

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    4 John Soares August 12, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    The trap I sometimes fall for is when I don’t have much work, I’ll put the work off until shortly before the deadline. But then I get more work and suddenly I’m close to overload.
    John Soares recently posted…How Freelance Writers Calculate Their Hourly Rates

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    5 Graham Strong August 13, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Twitter: @grahamstrong

    Yep — works that way for me too. Part of it is feeling guilty about not having much to do yet feeling the need to be in the office, so I “fill the time”. I’m starting to budget time better by scheduling half-days off during the slow times to get more done around the house instead, or play with the kids. Finish the work in the morning, head out in the afternoon, (mostly) guilt free.

    ~Graham
    Graham Strong recently posted…Happy Medium

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    6 John Soares August 13, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Graham, when I find myself with significant holes in my work schedule, I’ll usually take a vacation, anywhere from 3 days to a week or more. I love to hike, so usually I drive someplace beautiful in Oregon or northern California.
    John Soares recently posted…Why I Am a Freelance Writer

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    7 Angela Booth August 13, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Twitter: @angee

    Brilliant infographic. It’s Thursday and I’ve been procrastinating on some administrative junk that I hate to do all week, but hating it won’t make it go away. Obviously my limbic system’s too active.

    I need to change my perspective. I know that once the tasks are done, I’ll feel huge relief. But they’ll need to be done again next month.

    (Sigh.) I need a personality transplant. :-)
    Angela Booth recently posted…An EASY Writing Process: Write Anyway

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    8 John Soares August 14, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    Angela, I sometimes procrastinate on administrative tasks and other small but important things, usually because I want to spend my time on “more important” stuff. I usually solve this by doing it in the evening, after I’m done with all the day’s heavy lifting.
    John Soares recently posted…Does Your Freelance Writing Niche Have Busy Seasons?

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    9 J'aime August 15, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Twitter: @JaimeAWells

    #4, reducing uncertainty, is really key for me. I procrastinate a lot when I’m not sure about important aspects of the project and haven’t admitted that to myself. When I finally look the project in the face and start collecting the missing information, it’s usually easy to get started.

    And yet, the next time a project comes along with new, uncertain, unfamiliar parts to it, I’ll find myself procrastinating again, rather than immediately going to find the missing parts. I guess it must be true that my brain thinks of uncertainty as danger! Good grief, brain, it is a project, not a predator.

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    10 John Soares August 15, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    J’aime, I’ve also found myself procrastinating in similar circumstances. I always try to get all the relevant info I need before I begin, or at least enough relevant info to get started on parts of the project.
    John Soares recently posted…How Freelance Writers Calculate Their Hourly Rates

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    11 Victoria August 22, 2014 at 2:14 AM

    Twitter: @mobileintersog

    Yes, procrastination is one of top issues today for both employees and employers. I think it is impossible to defeat it at all – we are all people, not robots, but we can do it much less if we organize our working day more effectively. Like reading numerous emails that do not concern us directly, takes a lot of time, when we can work productively

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    12 wasim September 1, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Brilliant infographic. It’s Thursday and I’ve been procrastinating on some administrative junk that I hate to do all week, but hating it won’t make it go away. Obviously my limbic system’s too active.

    I need to change my perspective. I know that once the tasks are done, I’ll feel huge relief. But they’ll need to be done again next month.

    thanks for information…….

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