The reason why you procrastinate

Procrastination is a disease and if you aren’t careful it can kill you.  It can kill your spirit, it can kill your confidence, and it, really can kill you.  If you don’t get the pain in your chest checked out, it could eventually kill you.

Why do we procrastinate?  Best selling author Steve McClatchy states it like this from his years of studying the psychology behind procrastination.  We all know that we procrastinate on the tasks we like the least.  But why do we procrastinate on these tasks?  And then what compels us to do them when we finally do them?

What happens in our brain is that the closer we get to the deadline for a specific task our brain gets us thinking about the consequences of not completing the tasks.  This could be the embarrassment we might have if we don’t get it done, or we may get in trouble with our boss, we may have to apologize to our spouse, or we may just feel like a failure.  Once we start thinking about the consequences of not completing the tasks, we get scared and then FEAR sets in.  The fear tips the scale over and pushes us to complete the tasks. Our brain is just that brilliant, it uses fear to motivate us to get the things we don’t want to do, done.

Steve McClatchy in his best-selling book: Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example, he states that all human psychology and motivation can be broken down into two categories. Prevent pain categories and Gain categories.

Prevent pain Category:  These are the things we have to do to prevent pain in our life.  In its simplest form:  Taking out the trash.  Why do you take out the trash?  So you wont have the pain of smelling the trash in your house.  Or your wife yelling at you to do it.  Prevent pain tasks are tasks that are really survival tasks.  They have to be done.  They may need to be done frequently, you do them because you have to. They require a sense of urgency and they don’t usually produce significant results.

Gain Category: Produce 90% or more of the results in our life. Attributes of a gain task:  They typically lack a sense of urgency, meaning they are not required for us to do them and usually don’t have a deadline.  We can’t delegate them.  When we do these tasks we remember them.  They help us make movement and improvement in our lives.  Example:  Writing a book.  There is no deadline, you can’t delegate it, when you are 80 years old, you will remember it.  At 80 years old you wont remember taking out the trash. What about   getting an advanced degree?  It isn’t required usually, there is no deadline, you can’t delegate it, and you will remember it for the rest of your life, that is why it is a “gain task”.

Based on this analysis and psychology you can see why and how it is really easy for us to not get anything accomplished.  There is no end to the “prevent pain” list is there?  No.  So how do we get things accomplished in the Gain Category.

It begins with this first.  Setting some goals with deadlines and putting your “Gain” goals on your calendar.  As the author points out, you will put anything and everything on your “To Do List”, but sometimes those things are just “preventing pain” things.  The to do list motivates you because you feel like you are accomplishing something and they have to be done usually.  But when you put things on your calendar, they are more important and you will be sure to set aside the time to get them done.

We can’t use procrastination motivation to help us achieve our “Gain tasks”, it doesn’t work, because “Gain tasks” don’t have the necessary attributes that will instill the fear in us if we don’t get them done.  We have to use something else to motivate us to get our “Gain Tasks” accomplished.  We can use accomplishment and momentum.  When you have momentum and are accomplishing things, it triggers endorphins in your bloodstream that pushes you.

The author also speaks about “Have To’s” and “Want To’s”.  “Have To’s” are the prevent pain tasks.  “Want To’s” are those “gain” tasks.  You need to fill up your day with enough “Want To” tasks (Gain tasks) to give you motivation to do the Have To’s (Prevent Pain) tasks.  Think about your last vacation.  It was really easy to stay motivated at work on the last day and get all of the “Have To’s” accomplished because you had a “Want To” motivating you, which was the vacation.  You wont remember the “Have To’s” but you will remember the “Want To”, the vacation.

We have covered a lot of ground in today’s post.  I was highly motivated after listening to Steven McClatchy speak.  His book as I mentioned earlier is on sale.  I already purchased it, I would suggest you do it as well.  Here is the link on amazon.

I am off to do some “Gain” activities, because they are the ones that matter.  I will not allow procrastination to prevent me from movement and improvement in my life, and I suggest you do the same.  

To your success and your future.






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One response to “The reason why you procrastinate”

  1. Michael Gregory II Avatar

    Interesting post. I tend to procrastinate on a lot of things lol. But I’ve been learning ways to get that under control. Because I’m already working on staying organize and more productive. That’s why I’ve just been using a journal to keep account of my tasks.

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