What’s Really Stopping You? A Candid Look at Procrastination Triggers

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Picture this: you're on a roll, tasks are checking off your list like clockwork, and then suddenly, you hit a wall. Not a literal one, but a wall of 'I'll do this later.'  Sound familiar?

It’s the sudden realization that you’re procrastinating, and it’s as startling as an unexpected guest. But have you ever wondered what rings the doorbell for procrastination to enter?

It's seldom a lack of desire or ability; more often, it's an invisible, internal procrastination trigger that silently flips a switch in our brain. These procrastination triggers can be elusive, cloaked in the everyday fabric of our lives, waiting for the right moment to whisper, 'Why not wait?'

Identifying these hidden guests at our mental party is the first step in sending them on their way and getting back to the productive flow we truly enjoy. 

For the next week, note each time you say "I'll do it tomorrow" and what task you're referring to.

See if there's a pattern to the tasks you're postponing.



this way or this way

The Concept of Procrastination Triggers

Think of procrastination triggers as the silent alarms that sound off when we're about to face something uncomfortable. These are the psychological buttons that, when pressed, unleash our most inventive excuses. 

Much like a seasoned stage performer responds to a cue, our psyche is primed to react to these procrastination triggers, often without conscious awareness. They are the hidden scripts written by our past experiences, our doubts, and our fears, which dictate our actions in the present. In my procrastination coaching sessions, we explore these triggers to defuse their influence.

Unraveling these scripts can often feel like detective work, where we sift through the subtleties of our daily routines to spot the patterns that lead to procrastination.

These procrastination triggers are not just internal; they can be external too—like the siren call of a cozy bed on a chilly morning or the chime of a notification when we’re poised to start a complex task.

They can be as varied as the sudden urge for a coffee break when facing a challenging assignment, or the call of a sunny day beckoning us away from our desks.

Our triggers can also be sneaky, masquerading as 'logical' reasons that seem rational at the moment—like convincing ourselves we work better under pressure, or waiting for inspiration to strike.

By identifying these cues, we do more than just acknowledge their existence; we begin the process of disarming them. We start to see how they influence our rhythms and routines, and with that clarity, we can make conscious choices that align with our goals instead of our comforts.

This awareness is transformative, turning the spotlight on procrastination and reducing its power over us. 

Reflect on your day. What patterns or common themes can you identify that precede the impulse to procrastinate? 

Recognizing these can be your first step towards regaining control of your productivity dance.


3 pics of triggers

Common Types of Procrastination Triggers

Before diving into the kinds of triggers that prompt procrastination, it's important to recognize that these instigators are often deeply ingrained in our behavior. They're not merely external obstacles but internal switches that can flip our motivation to standby mode.

Emotional Procrastination Triggers

Picture the surge of stress when an email from the boss lands in your inbox, or the knot of anxiety tying up your stomach before a public speaking engagement.

These emotional responses are not just feelings; they’re signals that can derail our drive to tackle challenging tasks, convincing us to seek comfort in avoidance instead

Situational Procrastination Triggers

Consider how a messy workspace might push you towards a cleaning spree instead of writing a report, or how a cozy bed on a cold morning invites you to snooze rather than exercise.

These situational triggers are powerful because they play on our immediate sensory experiences and comfort preferences.

Cognitive Procrastination Triggers

The silent yet potent voice in our head can be our own saboteur. It's the thought that says, "I'm not good at this, so why bother starting?" or "This is just too boring," which convinces us to delay tasks.

These cognitive triggers thrive on our self-perceptions and can subtly coax us into procrastination.

What are the common phrases you tell yourself when you decide to postpone a task?


deep contemplation

Self-Assessment Techniques

Begin a dialogue with yourself. Keep a procrastination diary. Note not just the 'what' and the 'when,' but dive into the 'why.'

What's the narrative that's playing in your mind when you choose to delay? This introspection is your rehearsal for change.

A diary like this can function as a mirror, reflecting patterns you might not otherwise see. Record your feelings and the context surrounding each instance of procrastination; is it a specific time of day, a particular type of task, or a recurring emotional state?

Acknowledge the role of your environment—did a change in setting prompt your procrastination, or perhaps an interruption from a phone call or email?

As you compile entries, look for trends. Are you more prone to procrastinate after a poor night's sleep or before a challenging meeting?

Understanding these trends is akin to mapping the terrain of your motivational landscape. This map then becomes a tool, guiding you to navigate through your day with greater awareness and strategy, circumventing the usual pitfalls of procrastination. My role as a procrastination coach is to help you interpret your diary's findings and translate them into actionable steps.

What thought or feeling commonly accompanies your decision to procrastinate?

Is there a pattern in the type of tasks you put off?


pattern of flowers

Patterns and Trends In Behavior

Patterns are the underlying structure of procrastination, the repeatable habits that we fall into when delaying tasks. By identifying these habits, we can begin to understand what triggers our procrastination and how to intercept these moments. Tracking these patterns is like becoming a strategist in your own life, understanding where your tactics falter and where they hold strong.

For instance, you might notice that procrastination strikes when you're faced with large, undefined tasks. Or perhaps it's the opposite, and small, tedious tasks are your nemesis. You may find that certain times of day or specific contexts, like after a meeting that consistently drains your energy, are when procrastination is most likely to occur.

By mapping out these trends, we can take proactive steps to alter our environment or our schedule to better suit our productivity rhythms. We can break larger tasks into manageable pieces or tackle the smaller tasks during our peak energy times.

Being aware of our procrastination tendencies allows us to create an action plan that can effectively counteract the impulse to delay, and gradually, these patterns can shift from procrastination to productivity.

Understanding our behavioral trends isn't about self-reprimand; it's about self-awareness and adaptation. It's a constructive approach to recognizing our natural inclinations and gently steering them towards better outcomes.

Look for trends. Are there specific times during the day when procrastination strikes? Specific types of tasks? 

What’s the common thread


woman and sunrise

From Insight Into Action

Understanding our triggers is not just insightful; it equips us to take deliberate control of our actions. Identifying our patterns of procrastination is just the first step; the real work lies in actively disrupting these patterns and establishing new responses. 

Each day offers a fresh opportunity to apply what we've learned about ourselves, turning self-awareness into self-improvement. In my work, I assist clients in recognizing these patterns, offering tools and techniques to reshape them into productive habits. I assist clients in recognizing these patterns, offering tools and techniques to reshape them into productive habits.

By setting realistic goals and creating supportive habits, we gradually shift from a narrative of delay to one of achievement. The journey from procrastination to productivity is marked by these small, daily victories that, over time, culminate in substantial change.

Identify one procrastination trigger and confront it head-on.

What's one small step you can take to dismantle this trigger the next time it appears?

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