Why You Can't Stop Procrastinating

Do you find it difficult to fulfill a task? Do you feel like you're procrastinating excessively and don't know why? This situation can be very frustrating. In this article, we'll show you some of the possible causes of this.
Why You Can't Stop Procrastinating
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

“I can’t stop procrastinating.” “It’s impossible for me to do things right away.” Many people have experienced this, especially in the last few months. It’s as if courage, initiative, and even motivation have gone down the drain all of a sudden. It’s definitely an uncomfortable feeling that makes it impossible to work, enjoy relationships, and reach long-term goals.

This kind of reality isn’t trivial. This lack of desire and daily illusion is like rust that damages your mental muscle and weakens it little by little. Seeing such low efficiency, noticing that even the smallest thing requires so much effort, is exhausting and frustrating.

It’s important to learn to manage these types of situations. You can’t let this debilitating experience accompany you for more than two or three days. In fact, if this haunts you for weeks or months, it may be a sign of a psychological problem, such as depression.

Let’s delve a little deeper into this topic.

Why you can’t stop procrastinating – causes you should consider

There are days where you feel prepared to handle anything, and others where you feel incompetent from the get-go. We’re here to tell you that this is perfectly normal. It’s pretty much impossible to always maintain the same lively attitude towards life, the same spirit, and the same desire. You’re a person, not a robot, and having ups and downs is completely expected and normal.

Well, we understand it can be a bit scary for a person who’s used to working hard every day and taking matters into their own hands to face this problem. The truth is that, in a case like this, it’s important to consider all sorts of health issues, such as nutritient deficiencies like iron, magnesium, or B vitamins, thyroid disorders, and hormonal alterations. Believe it or not, all of these conditions usually lead to discouragement or lack of physical energy.

Excessive worry and uncertainty

John Milton said that your own mind can make your life a living hell or heaven. Thus, when you go through times where worries are many and calm days are few, the brain resorts to the classic stress blocks. It’s as if your cognitive abilities were interrupted all of a sudden. In the blink of an eye, you find yourself unable to think clearly and attend to your responsibilities. 
All this is due to that excessive concern which, in turn, goes along with an emotional state marked by anguish and anxiety. Likewise, being uncertain about the future is more common than you’d think. Undoubtedly, thinking about what the future might bring can leave you stuck in a numb mental state it can be very difficult to get out of.
A man unable to finish work.

I can’t stop procrastinating – what can I do?

“It’s hard for me to start doing things, I know that the sooner I start, the sooner I’ll be done, but I just can’t find the courage or motivation to get to work. Thus, I just end up doing nothing. The worst thing is that acting like this makes me feel bad and extremely uncomfortable.”
Procrastination is the worst life partner because delaying task fulfillment brings negative emotions to rise. As a result, the image you have of yourself may end up distorted, you may lose your sense of self-efficacy and, almost without realizing it, you end up in a deep hole of depression.
Moreover, a study conducted at Pamukkale University, in Turkey, showed that procrastination usually goes hand-in-hand with irrational thoughts. For example, thinking that everything is going to go wrong, that you’re incompetent, or that people are going to judge you for whatever reason. Additionally, the following factors are also common:
  • Having an aversion to certain tasks.
  • Great fear of failure and making mistakes.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Feeling that you don’t have control over your surroundings.
  • An underlying depression or high anxiety levels.

The fears that paralyze and demotivate you

You’ve probably been wondering for a while why you simply can’t stop procrastinating. Several days have gone by and things don’t seem to change. The number of tasks to complete increases every day, which makes you feel like you’re going to collapse any time soon. If you notice that you’re feeling this way, ask yourself, “What am I actually afraid of?”

Communicator and popularizer Eduard Punset said that happiness is the absence of fear, and we agree. You might reflect and think that, as of now, you aren’t afraid of anything. Sometimes, it’s hard to realize just how much a simple fear can keep you from doing your thing.  

Think about it: most people are afraid of the future and what it’ll bring. It’s common to be afraid of the unknown, it’s normal to feel stressed out by the possibility of things not going your way. Those sensations orchestrated by that silent but diffuse and persistent fear end up weakening motivation.

A woman wearing glasses drinking coffee.

It isn’t laziness, it’s unhappiness

Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps the reason why you can’t stop procrastinating is that you feel unhappy? For example, feeling angry keeps you feeling irritable, which can prevent you from acting. Often, though, a bad mood is just the icing on the cake. You have to delve inside yourself to find the actual root cause of the issue.

Interestingly enough, unhappiness is what lies behind procrastination in many cases. For example, it makes sense for someone who feels that they aren’t in the right path to not want to do anything. Not being content with your present life is extremely demotivating. If the lifestyle you lead is out of tune with our needs, desires, and values, even the simplest task will seem a great challenge. Do you want to remain trapped in this reality forever?

Whatever the situation that lies behind this lack of motivation, it’s necessary for you to make a change. It may be difficult, but try every day to move forward. You’ll eventually see that things will turn around. At the end of the day, the best engine for happiness, change, and well-being is making decisions.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Pollack, S., & Herres, J. (2020). Prior Day Negative Affect Influences Current Day Procrastination: A Lagged Daily Diary Analysis. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping33(2), 165-175. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2020.1722573
  • Balkis, M., & Duru, E. (2019). Procrastination and rational/irrational beliefs: A moderated mediation model. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy37(3), 299-315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10942-019-00314-6
  • Zuber, S., Ballhausen, N., Haas, M., Cauvin, S., Da, C., Coelho, S., … & Kliegel, M. (2020). I could do it now, but I’d rather (forget to) do it later: Examining links between procrastination and prospective memory failures. Psychological Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01357-6

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.