What are the five main causes of procrastination?

Start Now! Procrastinate Later. Become More Productive
An interview with Neil Fiore Ph.D.

  1. FEAR. We fear and resist BEING CONTROLLED by others, BEING JUDGED, and FEAR MISSING OUT ON THE GOOD THINGS OF LIFE. But the greatest fear is FEAR OF YOURSELF: fear that you will make yourself miserable if you make a mistake and you’ll beat yourself up if you fail to win 100% approval from others.
    These fears cause you to procrastinate so you can:
  • Resist doing what others tell you (and you tell yourself) you have to get done;
  • Avoid having your worth and work judged by others
  • Protect some free time even though you know you can’t fully enjoy it because you feel guilty
  • Escape your own self-hatred.

That’s why The Fiore Productivity Program™ shows you how to focus on taking corrective action and creating a solid, un-judge-able sense of worth rather than focusing on self-analysis and self-criticism.

Fear of mistakes makes you indecisive and keeps you from achieving excellence (not perfection, but         real, achievable excellence).
Fear of mistakes is caused by allowing your worth and mood to be determined by judgment of your work—as in Work = Worth.

  1. INEFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP COMMUNICATION. In talking to ourselves, our team, and our family, we tend to use 6 statements that evoke resistance and anxiety:

You have to finish all this work, do it perfectly, suffer with no fun in your life (only overwhelming obligations), and your worth will be judged.

“You have to finish” is enough to cause procrastination but use of all six statements pretty much guarantees feeling stuck, resistant, overwhelmed, and distracted.

In my book, The Now Habit, I’ve replaced those 6 statements of procrastinators with the 6 statements of producers:

I choose to start for 15 minutes (one small step), on a rough draft, knowing I have plenty of ‘guilt-free play’ in my schedule and that my worth is safe with me.

  1. PERFECTIONISM. Trying to be perfect leads to frustration and wasted time and energy in order to defend against real or imagined criticism (from others and yourself). It is also a denial of the fact that you are human and not a god or an angel.

As difficult as it may seem, strive instead to accept yourself as a ‘perfectly human’ human being, vulnerable to mistakes and criticism.

  1. OVERWHELMING YOURSELF. When you attempt to do it all—and all at once – you require your body to try to be in several time zones, thereby evoking stress and anxiety or “stuck energy” that can’t be used now.

When you set a goal of ‘getting it done’ you are asking your body to get into the imaginary future that may be 4, 40, or a thousand hours away.

Given that your body is always in the present, it makes sense to practice Mindfulness by focusing on what you can start now for five or fifteen minutes. When you learn to focus on starting instead of finishing, you don’t have to worry about getting done because the last time you start is when you’ll be done.

  1. WORKING FROM EGO. Our sense of self is often dissociated from our adult skills, challenges and current opportunities. Our ego identity often feels like a phony and is waiting to feel motivated, confident, and to know everything.


The belief that you must want to do something – and feel motivated and confident – before starting a task that has real consequences in your life. To be productive and robust in the real world, we often must choose to face unpleasant tasks – income tax, surgery, and learning skills in areas that are difficult for us. We can’t wait for our ego to feel motivated.


©2017 Neil A. Fiore, PhD  www.neilfiore.com  neil@neilfiore.com  (510) 525 – 2673


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