3 Reasons Why You Procrastinate

Scrabble letter tiles spelling out If Not Now When

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” goes the saying. Procrastination, the action of delaying something, becomes a speciality of mine when there’s something important to do. (Like writing this when I have a big essay deadline!)

I often wonder why I would self sabotage in this way? Why is it so difficult to get on with something that is the top of the list of priorities? Why does sorting the cutlery drawer feel like an easier thing to do than that important phone call?

Well the truth is procrastination isn’t always what we think it is. There is often something lurking underneath. Here are 3 things that can masquerade as procrastination.

1. Fear

Woman making a face putting her hands out as if to push something away

Have a think about why you’re putting off that important task? It’s likely you know logically that it needs doing, but you just can’t motivate yourself to get it done. Quite often you may find that, deep down, there’s a fear there. A fear of failing perhaps? So if you don’t start, you won’t be able to fail.

Or a fear of it not being perfect? Maybe in your early life you felt pressured into always achieving, and got much praise for academic achievements. That could be very difficult to live up to even as an adult.

Oddly enough it could even be a fear of actually achieving. Maybe deep down you know that if you pass that essay, you’ll have to move on to the next step, one you’re not quite ready for.

So procrastinating actually becomes a sort of coping mechanism, a way of protecting us from something that we’re scared of.

To help work through some of these fears you could try writing them down, talking to someone, or using other creative ways to help.

2. Overwhelm

Woman with many folders and files in her hands piled up to her eyes balancing them

Sometimes life gets overwhelming. Too many demands on you, all at once, can lead to you feeling like it’s just too much.Procrastination can be your body’s way of stopping you doing too much and becoming overloaded.

Perhaps your energy reserves are running low and you’re not quite ready to take on the next task.

Frustrating though it is when you’re trying to get things done, perhaps it’s your body’s way of telling you you need to have a rest. Watch out for signs of burnout if you’re continually taking on too much. Try taking some time out doing something that relaxes you, and see if being rested makes a difference.

3. Neurodivergence

Rainbow infinity symbol

For someone who might be neurodivergent, (that includes ADHD, Autism, dyslexic, Tourette’s, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and more), procrastination could actually be something completely different.

A key feature for many people who are neurodivergent is having difficulties in the area of executive functioning. This affects organising, planning, impulse control and prioritising among other actions.

So it’s not surprising then, that some everyday tasks (like starting an essay, or scheduling your day) could actually be very tricky.

What looks from the outside like procrastination, or even laziness, could actually just be the way your brain works. The ADHD Aware website has a good explanation of what neurodivergence is.

To explore more on neurodivergence and how counselling can help, have a look at my articles Therapy and Neurodivergence and Diagnosis/Assessment What now?


Amy is a qualified counsellor working in Kent and online with adults and adolescents. Amy works with a range of issues and specialises in working with neurodivergent individuals and their families.

Contact Amy here for more details or to book a free consultation.


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