Why We’re So Good at Procrastinating But So Bad at Being Productive

I take a look at my to-do list and see that the first item is to do some freelance work for a client. I know where to start, I know it will be some of the most important work for the day (and that’s why it’s on top), I know I’ll feel good after that and will even build momentum to move onto the next items on the list.

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I open a Word doc, ready to start writing. But then I go and check email, think about the tasks I’ll have to complete later, text someone, or even do something I’ve been putting off for later. And all that, just not to do my actual work right now.

That’s a situation we’re all familiar with. It happens all the time in daily life.

Why is that?

Because if we don’t just get to work on something right away, our mind comes up with excuses, wants to do other things just to avoid doing this. We start procrastinating, even if the activities we choose to do are productive to some extent.

It’s still bad, because we don’t fight the resistance, we prefer to do what feels comfortable, or indulge in things like social media and email, which we check often unconsciously but which doesn’t lead to business growth or increased productivity.

We’re Really Good at Procrastinating

When most people have something to do, they can come up with tens of other things to do instead of it. However, when in other situations they are asked for a creative idea, a solution to a problem, or just advice, they have nothing.

Procrastination takes many forms, and even the reasons why we do it are absolutely clear. But still, we rarely get our work done on time.

Why are we such procrastinators? Is it in our nature?

No. It’s just a result of 2 main things: discomfort and uncertainty.

We want to avoid these at any cost. And as you probably know, our desire to skip negative experiences is much bigger than to have the good ones (that’s why we forget about how good we’ll feel once we get things done and how much progress we’ll have and focus on how we can put off the discomfort and uncertainty of working on the task in front of us).

It’s ridiculous how good we are at procrastinating.

This post, for example, is a result of procrastinating on other work I had to do, which is also writing. It takes the same amount of effort and time, but I found it easier to come up with a new article (which may still be helpful to a bunch of people, of course, and that makes it meaningful).

So it’s not that we’re lazy. No. We’re ready to do stuff, to move on, to take action, it’s just that we don’t feel comfortable doing whatever we’re supposed to do, and there’s also the fear of failing at it.

Check out my book How to Kill Procrastination One Excuse at a Time

Such behavior doesn’t need to become a habit, though. In fact, the solution is pretty simple.

The Best Productivity System in The World

There are many systems out there you can read about. Some are fantastic, brilliant and practical. Others just sound complex and smart but can’t be applied in daily life.

So let’s break things down to one step.

You know what the task you should be working on now is. We all do. We even feel guilty when we’re procrastinating, but prefer not to think about it. But still, the actual work that’s waiting to be done – the one that gets you closer to your goals, helps you make a living, makes other people’s lives better in some way – is in the back of your mind.

So the best productivity system is to simply take action right now.

Without overthinking, without giving another activity a try, without letting doubts and excuses talk you out of it.

‘Just do it!’ is the best advice in terms of productivity. There’s resistance in the beginning. There always is with the things in life that make us successful.

You’ll fight it once today, then tomorrow. On the third day it will be easier.

Then, it will become a habit. And that’s when you’ll get good at being productive.

PS, This post was inspired by Leo’s ‘What Productivity Systems Won’t Solve’ over at ZenHabits.

What’s your take on this? How do you fight the resistance and what do you do to get to work instead of procrastinating?

Lidiya K

Lidiya K

Author, blogger and podcaster in the fields of self-improvement and life hacking. Creator of Let's Reach Success.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
Lidiya K

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