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The Real Reasons You Procrastinate at Work

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The Real Reasons You Procrastinate at Work

According to a growing body of psychology research, procrastination isn’t a weakness – it’s a symptom.


5 min read
5 take-aways
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What's inside?

Laziness is not responsible for procrastination. Do some self-reflection to discover what’s really holding you up.

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Procrastination at work often gets attributed to laziness. However, at its core, procrastination is not simply an issue of motivation – or lack thereof. The emotional distress that underlies procrastination stems from issues of insecurity, confusion and fear. Sarah Goff-Dupont, principal writer at Atlassian, teaches how these emotions can interfere with your progress and offers some simple steps to eliminate procrastination.


Procrastination at work is a symptom of emotional distress, and it is your brain’s way of telling you that you need something to finish the job.

Procrastination, once deemed to be a sign of idleness, has undergone significant scientific research in recent years. It turns out that laziness is not the root cause. Rather, emotional distress stemming from issues of perfectionism, confusion, apathy, insecurity and fear are the principal drivers of putting off work until tomorrow that you should tackle today.

Happily, procrastination can be a positive trait, if you adjust your mind-set to one of discovery and learning to overcome the negative emotions that trigger procrastination.

When it strikes at the beginning of a task, procrastination often signals a lack of knowledge.

If you don’t understand the task at hand, the job can feel so overwhelming that you don’t even know where to begin. To avoid paralysis, you probably tackle familiar work first to temporarily distract yourself or to boost your feelings of...

About the Author

Sarah Goff-Dupont is a principal writer at Atlassian. She has published in industry publications including Harvard Business Review and Huffington Post.

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