Procrastination as Soft Addiction

So, here is the deal. Procrastination is in many ways like an addiction, only it’s typically not as nasty or devastating as, say, alcohol or meth (at least I hope not), which is why I call it a “soft” addiction. Why? Well, procrastination typically works like this:

  1. I have something to do.
  2. When I think about doing it, I experience some sort of bad feeling like fear of failure or overwhelm or the like.
  3. So I don’t do it, I do something else instead, maybe something semi-useful like email, maybe something useless like FaceBook, I feel better at first.
  4. Not doing it leads to unpleasant consequences.
  5. Every time I think about the task, I also think about the unpleasant consequences, I don’t like how that feels, now it’s even harder to do it.
  6. Shame starts to pile up, I wonder what’s wrong with me.
  7. Now, when I think about the task, I feel the original bad feelings, the feelings about the unpleasant consequences, and the accumulated shame associated with it.
  8. Nothing gets done, hole gets deeper.

Sound familiar?

At the bottom of it all, though, is a feeling. If you are willing to face that feeling and the feelings that have accumulated, and get started on the project even though it feels bad, you can make progress, and this starts to feel good, so you have good feelings, you make more progress, positive cycle.

Next time you sit down to do some project, then feel the urge to open up FaceBook or email instead, notice that feeling, name it (“I’m afraid because I’m not sure what to do”), sit in it for a moment (it won’t kill you, I promise), and then get started, do your best, just keep moving.  You will feel better, you will make progress.


If this is you and you’d like to break this cycle, click HERE to email me and we can set up a complimentary strategy session.


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Dave is trained at the Coaches Training Institute and certified by the International Coaching Federation. He has worked with dozens of clients to achieve remarkable results, including revenue growth, clearer strategic direction, enhanced leadership, and promotions to positions of greater responsibility. You can learn more about him at or follow him at @DarkMatterCon, or GooglePlus.

2 Comments to “Procrastination as Soft Addiction”

  1. Mia Moares says:

    Thanks for the article. Lately, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with procrastination. Each time I sit down to work on a freelance job or my own blog and become stuck, I go straight to twitter or anything other than what I should be working on. I’m going to try your suggestion on naming my procrastination so hopefully it will help conquer this demon.

    • Dave Kaiser says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mia. Let me know if this technique works for you. Also, if you;re interested, let me know if you’d like a complimentary session to discuss what could be possible for you in getting past the procrastination.

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