The Emotions Behind Procrastination

I used to teach a (poorly attended) finance class the second hour of church while I was what is called a Ward Employment Specialist. One of my main focuses was not just mere budgeting tips, but the underlying emotions of finance. Most finance experts recognize that the reasons people spend too much and save too little is because of the emotional states we are in when we (don’t) spend or (don’t) budget. I was reminded of this while I was reading a recent article in The Wall Street Journal on procrastination:

Putting off a work or school assignment in order to play videogames or water the plants might seem like nothing more serious than poor time-management.

But researchers say chronic procrastination is an emotional strategy for dealing with stress, and it can lead to significant issues in relationships, jobs, finances and health.

…Many chronic procrastinators believe they can’t get started on a task because they want to do it perfectly. Yet studies show chronic procrastination isn’t actually linked to perfectionism, but rather to impulsiveness, which is a tendency to act immediately on urges…Highly impulsive people…shut down when they feel anxiety. Impulsive people are believed to have a harder time dealing with strong emotion and want to do something else to get rid of the bad feeling…

Focusing on time management alone will help procrastinators, but only so much, the scientists say. The emotional regulation component must be addressed as well.

If you struggle with procrastination like I do, you might find the article helpful. Give it a read.


2 thoughts on “The Emotions Behind Procrastination”

  1. Walker, I’m curious as someone who struggles with this from time to time: what’s the best solution? What strategies would you recommend to tackle the root, emotional problems?

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