Procrastination is a symptom, not a cause

In the productivity world, there's no bigger evil than procrastination - putting things off until later. Usually much later, maybe even for so long that whatever it was, it never got started much less finished.  Most of us think of procrastination as a cause of not getting things done. In fact, it's not a cause but rather a symptom.  A symptom of a deeper issue.

The question shouldn't be whether you're procrastinating or not but why you're procrastinating. Many times the source of the procrastination is not knowing the next physical step to take.

For example, I'm procrastinating in hanging some pictures on my wall. What's holding me up? One might think it's just lack of initiative to get it done. Except I really want to get them up on the wall. The problem is, I don't have the frames to put the pictures in. So, I need to go to a store and buy frames. That's the next step right? But if I'm not sure what size frames to buy, I can't buy them.  I need to measure the pictures first so I can buy frames of the proper size. Now, if I'm not sure which pictures I want to hang, then I can't measure them for frames.  So my next physical step in getting pictures on my wall is to actually pick out the ones I want to have up on the wall. Then I can measure the pictures, write down the sizes I need, drive to the store, find the frames, buy them, bring them home, put the pictures in them, hammer the hooks into the wall and then, FINALLY, I can hang pictures on the wall.

I could have expanded this even more (what if I didn't have a hammer? or didn't have enough hooks?) but you get the idea. If I'm focused on hanging the pictures as my next step, I'll be paralyzed because 10-12 other things actually have to happen first.  That's why it's so critical to comprehend a project fully and have the clarity to see what that next physical step really is.  Without that understanding you won't be able to make progress toward your goal and procrastination will result.

Procrastination then, isn't a cause it's a symptom.