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Why writers and developers procrastinate

Marieke van de Rakt


Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Instagram all the while thinking about that article that you should be working on? Or perhaps, found yourself diving into the latest Netflix additions when you promised to spruce up your website? This act of choosing anything but your planned task has a name we’re all too familiar with: procrastination. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We all procrastinate from time to time, although some of us more fiercely than others. But what causes procrastination? And why is it so very common among writers, developers, and website owners? In this post, I will explain it all!

What is procrastination?

Procrastination means that you’re putting off a task, working, or updating that plugin until the last minute – or even skipping the work altogether. Instead, you pursue lighter activities, like checking your social media, watching YouTube, and shopping online. 

Why do we procrastinate?

Why do we choose this path? Let’s explore the reasons behind our procrastination. What causes us to scroll through TikTok instead of working on our website?

The Battle of Present Versus Future Rewards

Procrastination is caused by something that is referred to by psychologists as the ‘present bias’. People tend to be more motivated by immediate gratification or rewards, rather than long-term rewards. A procrastinator may not feel motivated or inspired to do a certain task and does something ‘more fun’ instead. 

For example, you should be writing an article for your website. However, you just can’t seem to get yourself to start working on it. Instead, you’re shopping online, which makes you feel good. When you’re in the moment, it feels good to procrastinate. So you delay your intended work, for something that feels better, leading to further delay

Wrong assumptions about motivation and time management

Another reason why people procrastinate is that people tend to make the wrong assumptions about their future motivation and the time it takes to complete a certain task. Procrastinators will often convince themselves that a task won’t take that long. However, they underestimate how motivated they’ll be for the task in the future. 

They tend to think that their motivation will be much higher later if they don’t feel like doing the task right now. Well, if you aren’t motivated to work on an article this afternoon, you’ll probably also be uninspired and unmotivated to work on that article tonight, right? 

While underestimating how motivated they will be to do that task, they also overestimate the time they have left to finish a task and at the same time, underestimate how long it will take to complete that task. You think you’ll be able to finish writing the article in about an hour and a half, while in reality, it takes you up to three hours to write it properly. Which then feeds back into delaying the task even further. 

Fear/ Perfectionism

People will often procrastinate because they are afraid that their work will not be good enough. Perfectionism, imposter syndrome, or the fear of not being good enough can be a big factor in why people procrastinate. They build up the idea that the thing they want to create is perfect in their head. However, once they start creating it, they’re bound to run into problems and imperfections. The result is far less perfect than the idea they had in their head, which creates fear and as such makes you procrastinate even more. 

Symptoms of mental illness

Let me be clear: procrastination is not a mental illness. Everybody experiences this to some extent. However, procrastination could be a symptom of mental illness. It could be the result of depression. People suffering from OCD often have a propensity towards indecision, causing them to procrastinate. Also, many people with ADHD struggle with procrastination and executive dysfunction, which feeds into their procrastination. 

What do we tell ourselves?

Next to the causes of procrastinating, it is interesting to look into the reasons people come up with to explain their own behavior. If you ask people why they procrastinate, they give all kinds of reasons (or excuses) for not starting with the work. People are insecure about what needs to be done or when they don’t know how to do something. That could be the reason why some people have trouble starting a task. Other people say that they are not “in the mood” for a certain task, or that they keep forgetting it. Some people believe that they just work better under pressure. That working so close to a deadline makes them feel challenged and motivated to do the task.

Why is procrastination so common for writers and developers?

Writing text and writing code are both tasks that are very prone to procrastinating behavior. That means that getting a website up and running and maintaining those websites will always be challenging because people will easily set that kind of work aside. Especially if that website is not your core business (and thus never the most urgent task you have to deal with). But why is that? Why are writers and developers notorious procrastinators? There are two big reasons for that: 

The first reason why writers and developers are prone to procrastination is because the process of writing – text as well as code – is hard. It asks a lot of brainpower, attention and concentration for long periods of time. Next to that, it asks a lot of your creativity. Every piece of text, or code, you write is unique. You’ll need inspiration or creativity to come up with good code or nice sentences. 

Next to the task at hand, the second reason why writers and developers are notorious procrastinators is because the distraction for them is tremendous. Slack, X, news, Instagram. While writing, you’ll see an email popping up. Everyone working on a computer has these triggers, and they always pull you out of that task that needs your attention and concentration. 

How do we move forward?

Don’t feel bad if you procrastinate. It does not mean that you are lazy or have poor self-regulation. Everybody procrastinates, although the urge to procrastinate is different for different people and under various circumstances. And there’s a lot you can do about it!

Starting a task is the hardest part. Perhaps you’ll need help with that. Figuring out how to start and what steps to take to successfully complete your task.

Our Progress Planner plugin helps you to combat procrastination for your website work. We try to reward your initiatives and help you set up a website maintenance routine. Above that, we’ll help you get started with simple guides and plenty of examples. We have got your back, you are not alone in this, together we can progress your plans!

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