If you feel like you're constantly busy but getting nothing done, these three little-known, but well-established methods of procrastination could be the problem:
Counterintuitively, being hard on ourselves impedes both motivation and performance. In one study, students who reported high levels of self-forgiveness for procrastinating on studying for an exam later procrastinated less on a second exam. By contrast, exam procrastinators who agreed to statements such as, "I dislike myself for procrastinating," and, "I criticize myself because of my tendency to procrastinate," showed no better behavior before the next test. This may be because the guilt produced by self-blame triggers further procrastination, the researchers claim.
Perfectionism does not make us perform better. Instead, perfectionism is associated with binge eating, interpersonal conflict, and task avoidance. Moreover, perfectionism and procrastination together are associated with worry and depression.
Perfectionistic procrastination may be rooted in fear of making mistakes, fear of failure.
Productive people are satisfied with good enough. Instead of berating yourself when you don't reach challenging goals. "Realise that progress is better than perfection."
Sometimes we procrastinate on making decisions simply because we haven't answered the question, "Why?" This fundamental oversight obscures our goals, confuses the tasks needed to make them happen, and stunts our progress.
Commitment, on the other hand, requires understanding. When people commit to marriage, it's often because they feel they fully know what—and who—they're "getting themselves into" and can properly anticipate both the risks and rewards. By the same token, we can reduce our cold feet in other aspects of our lives by understanding why we're doing something. If we don't know, we'll likely never get it done—and probably shouldn't do it anyway.
Sadly, these subtle procrastination habits can slip by for years without our noticing. But there's an upside: Once we recognize them for what they are—subconscious methods that derail our productivity we're freed to return to our real work. The goal is to train our awareness and energy toward the things we know matter.
And, by the way, this solution doesn't just sound good: Research suggests that those who were "more in touch with their future selves" both two months and 10 years later reported fewer procrastination behaviors. When we define our values, commit to our goals, take responsibility for our work, and make peace with our product, we can shut down the sly ways we sabotage our potential.