Procrastination is often confused with laziness, but they are very different. Unfortunately, the thoughts we feel don’t always feel so different. In the blog, Amazing Marvin*¹, this topic is well explained.
There is actually a big difference.
What is the difference between procrastination and laziness?
Amazing Marvin says, “Laziness is about not being willing to put in the work and energy needed to do something. Whereas procrastination is about feeling unable to put in the work, despite really wanting to.”
The article explains the difference is the person’s motivation… a lazy person chooses not to put the work or energy into action. It could be a lack of energy for a certain period of time or a decision not to put in the work or effort at all.
A procrastinator, on the other hand, wants to get things done but feels unable to. There’s a strong barrier between their desire and ability. At its core procrastination is a failure of regulation that elicits a negative emotion around a task which makes the person avoid doing it.
Those who are procrastinators are actually not lazy, but highly driven individuals with “high standards for themselves and ambitious goals to achieve.” This added pressure tends to exacerbate their procrastination rather than subdue it.
If your dreadful feeling of a certain task comes from overwhelm, fear, or resistance to getting started, that’s likely procrastination. However, if your feeling comes from exhaustion, mental or physical tiredness, or general disinterest, then it’s likely not procrastination, but burnout, lack of desire, or not wanting to put in the effort.
How Can You Tell The Difference?
Barb Hubbard, a Time Management coach at Vestigo Coaching, taught me to look at struggles like procrastination with curiosity rather than judgment.
What that means is, separating your emotional connection to the task and outcome. This way you can look closer at the cause of your struggle rather than the negative feelings.
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to separate the guilt or shame of not getting something done in a quick manner, but there is always a reason for it. This reason most likely has nothing to do with your ability to accomplish it, but rather something that you may or may not have control over.
Here are those reasons:
5 Reasons for Procrastination
- The task is too big and overwhelming
- You need to learn something first (or you think you do)
- Other things need to be done first
- It’s not the right time
- You are not the right person
Download my printable Procrastination List and write down 10 things you’ve been procrastinating. It can be personal or business. Keep this list handy.
In my next blog, I’ll share some solutions to each of these reasons, but for now, take a look at your Procrastination list and see if you can identify the reason behind why each item is on your list.
If the reason behind something on your list is you simply just don’t want to do it, then maybe you’re not procrastinating, maybe it doesn’t belong on your list at all. This may be a message to yourself that you’re ready to hand it over to someone like a VA who can do it for you.
Share a reason for your procrastination in the comments or send me a message. I’m here to help you identify your barrier so you can take the next steps to move past it.