The Biggest Misunderstanding About Procrastination

Cari Nazeer
Published in
1 min readAug 26, 2020


Bored man procrastinating from work by playing with motorcycle model.
Photo: Michael Blann/Getty Images

Yesterday, I saw this Instagram post by the illustrator Liz Fosslien, shared it with the rest of the Forge team, and then… procrastinated writing anything about it.

Why? It’s right there on the chart: I didn’t know where to start.

When we put things off, it almost never makes us feel easy and unburdened. The therapist Kathleen Smith has written that procrastination, at its core, is a relationship problem — that worrying about how our work will be perceived can drive us to avoid it altogether. “But rather than observing how we function in relation to others,” she explains, “we end up labeling our productivity problems as personality flaws.”

And sometimes, the relationship in question is with yourself. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: The more you procrastinate, the more harshly you judge your own habits, and the more you procrastinate. Breaking the loop, then, can be as simple as showing yourself a bit of generosity — or, as Fosslien writes in her caption, “Switching from thinking ‘What if this fails?’ to ‘What if this succeeds?’ and then getting excited.”