The reason that people procrastinate is quite simple. It provides an instant reward in the shape of a relief from immediate stress. In other words, by not starting a task that you know will prove stressful, you feel a sense of relief that, though temporary, is nonetheless very real and satisfying.
Procrastination acts as a reward because it takes one away from something unpleasant or threatening.
It is a behavior that often begins quite early in life; and because you are ‘rewarded’ by behaving in this way it becomes a habit, which follows you from childhood, through your teenage years, and into your working life.
In all of these cases, your reward was immediate and made you feel good, so you continue to behave in the same way when confronted with an unpleasant or threatening situation. Here are just a few examples you may have adopted yourself!
In many cases the reward will be temporary and you will still have to confront the thing you are trying to avoid, but not always.
Occasionally you will find that the test was canceled, parents did the chore themselves or you were excused for some other reason. In the case of the confrontation, it never happened because the next time you saw the person they had forgotten about it, or it just didn’t seem that important any more.
he fact is that avoiding dealing with something you don’t want to do straightaway can be a rewarding strategy, something that is not often acknowledged. This is one of the reasons why it can become such an ingrained behavior.
The immediate ‘sense of relief ’ reward is the main reason why people procrastinate. However, knowing this is not actually much help unless you are able to get to the root of why there is a ‘sense of relief ’ associated with not starting a particular type of task.
You should think of this reward as a symptom rather than an underlying cause. This reward will always be present, it will always be more immediately gratifying not to do a particular piece of work because you will always be able to ind something more enjoyable to do in the short term. The trick is to look beyond this, to identify the types of task that you are tempted to avoid and to devise strategies for overcoming the procrastination relax.