8 Causes for Procrastination

Millions of people suffer from procrastination, so you are not alone. While procrastination could involve just minor delays and increased short term stress, it can also impede your ability to reach your personal and professional goals.

Learning what the primary causes of procrastination can enable you to manage around them.

Here are the most common causes for procrastination:

1. Low sense of self-worth

Also sometimes called low self-esteem, this has to do with one's overall appraisal of his or her own self-worth. It can have to do with a belief that one is not competent or an emotional feeling of despair.

Generally considered to be a basic human need, it is related to a need for respect from others as well as a need for self-respect. Psychologists feel that if self-esteem is low, a person is prevented from achieving self-actualization, which may be the basic element behind this cause for procrastination.

2. Self-Defeating Mentality

A feeling that one is unable to complete a task is sometimes the basis for procrastinating.

This person will overestimate how much work and time the task will take, and this kind of thinking tends to become a habit.

Either "I can't do this well enough" or "I don't have enough time to do this right now" will lead to putting off a task rather than tackling it.

3. Lack of Conscientiousness

A person focussing more on "dreams and wishes" of perfection or achievement rather than a realistic appreciation of obligations and potential will tend to procrastinate.

This is a person whose view of life tends to be unrealistic, one who tends to solve problems by dreaming a solution or hoping for a solution rather than tackling the task at hand and getting it done.

4. Psychological Reasons

Psychologically, the area of the brain responsible for planning, impulse control, attention and filtering out distractions is weaker in some people.

There may have been damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain or it may just not be as active as it is in most people. Because of this, a person cannot filter out distractions. This person get distracted easily.

5. Depression

Constant procrastination, especially in a person who is typically well-organized, may be a sign of depression.

It's not something that the person can just "snap out of." Health professionals consider this a chronic illness requiring long-term treatment, not unlike diabetes or high blood pressure.

Generally, anyone who experiences depression will have repeated episodes for the rest of their lives.


We've thought for some time that this is an illness that only affects children, but recent research indicates that it can continue into adulthood.

As a general rule, medication is required and behavior modification and lifestyle changes seem to help. One of the symptoms noticed most often in this illness is the tendency to procrastinate - to put off doing tasks that need doing.

7. Internet Addiction

Most of us are finding it almost impossible to get along in this age without using the Internet.

However, we are also finding that it is very easy to let it take over our lives. Internet addiction is defined as excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. There are elements of compulsion in this behavior, and one of the symptoms is the tendency to procrastinate.

8. Perfectionism

According to Hara Estroff Marano in an article published in Psychology Today in March of 2008, this may be the ultimate self-defeating behavior. While it turns people into slaves of success, he says, it keeps them focused on failure.

Its opposite, adaptability, is the human characteristic that makes it possible for people to survive. In short, most perfectionists are also procrastinators.