Procrastination at Home: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Messy home conditions and low motivation often make individuals feel reluctant to take action in organizing the house. This often results in individuals procrastinating on tasks such as cleaning and decluttering. The delay then results in more mess and clutter, making cleaning even more difficult.

Procrastination can be interpreted as an action taken intentionally to postpone a job that was originally intended to be done, even though individuals are aware of the negative effects of procrastination. 

Procrastinating on housework feels good at first because individuals feel free from their responsibilities. However, continuous procrastination can increase the level of stress experienced by individuals about their home conditions.

This article will discuss in-depth the causes, effects, and ways to deal with procrastination so that the home remains well organized.

Causes of procrastination at home

People delay doing housework not only because of a lack of motivation but also because of several other factors. At the same time, these factors occur because of mental barriers that arise within the individual. Here are some of them: 

Self-regulation failure

Self-regulation is the capacity of an individual to control the response to a stimulus, both from outside and from within. This capability also encourages individuals to achieve a goal, which could be fulfilling tasks or obtaining a sense of security.

Procrastination is a form of self-regulation failure. This is because individuals excessively interpret the urge to achieve a sense of security and ignore the desire to fulfill a responsibility. This false sense of security causes people to postpone a task because it makes them feel safe and avoids responsibility.

In terms of home organizing, self-regulation failure causes individuals to feel that postponing home organizing activities is fun. This is because individuals feel that they’ve been freed from a household task. Consistent procrastination can lead to a stronger desire to procrastinate, ultimately leading to a cluttered living space where cleaning and decluttering tasks are neglected.


Impulsivity is defined as an individual’s low control over impulses that arise from one’s self and the inability to think about the impact of an action. This impulsivity causes individuals to experience difficulties controlling the urge to take action to achieve positive feelings that only occur for a few moments.

Also, impulsivity prominently appears in compulsive buying behavior. This occurs when individuals have a powerful desire to buy an item without thinking about its use or where it will be placed. If this happens continuously, the house will be filled with many items that it will make organizing activities even more difficult, especially if individuals decide to continue to procrastinate on organizing.

Hoarding behavior

Hoarding is a form of psychological disorder that causes individuals to hoard stuff excessively at home, even for items that are no longer suitable for use and must be disposed of. Individuals with hoarding behavior will have difficulty deciding which items should be discarded and which can still be used. In addition, they will also experience problems organizing things at home because so much items has piled up. As a result, hoarders choose to let things in their houses pile up in an unorganized manner. 

Effects of procrastination on mental health and home life

Undoubtedly, procrastination reduces productivity since it snowballs into more delayed tasks and activities. For example, the pile of dirty clothes in the washing machine becomes larger because individuals continue to postpone plans to wash their clothes. But it also affects mental health and other activities at home, such as:  

Social isolation

Continuous procrastination in cleaning and decluttering routines will result in increasingly dirty, messy, and unkempt housing conditions. Occupants of the house consequently feel embarrassed if other people come to visit their home. Over time, this will lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation as the homeowner continues to refuse visits from others.

The resulting social anxiety in occupants of the house may stem from their belief that visitors will negatively judge the condition of their cluttered home and spread rumors about it, leading to feelings of embarrassment.

Cluttered home

One of the most obvious impacts of procrastination on housework is a cluttered home. Procrastination causes people to postpone tasks repeatedly to the point where they already feel pressured by the conditions around them. This will have an impact on the state of the house, which is increasingly unkempt with piles of trash and other items scattered in inappropriate places.

Physical issues

Continuous procrastination can result in a home filled with dust and mold, which may lead to respiratory problems from prolonged exposure to these pollutants. Additionally, piles of trash and scattered items can increase the risk of falling,  resulting in physical injury. 

Read more: Fall Prevention Tips and What To Do if Someone Falls 

Even though this problem looks trivial, if it is allowed to occur in the long term, it can cause other more severe health problems.

Strategies for overcoming procrastination at home

Procrastination is a behavior that must be eradicated because it can have a negative impact, both on mental health and life at home. However, several ways to combat procrastination are as follows: 

Set realistic goals

One of the mistakes that individuals often make in organizing their home is thinking that they can tidy up a room or even an entire house in just one day. In reality, thinking like this will only lead to feelings of frustration, stress, and overwhelm, leading to procrastination again. 

Make efforts to escape procrastination slowly but surely. Setting realistic goals is one small step toward motivating yourself not to procrastinate anymore. For example, allot a particular hour to clean the study table, then the next hour, rest before continuing in other parts of the house.

Grandma’s rule

The thinking that most often traps procrastinators is that trivial activities can be done at a later time because they are not considered urgent. For example, delaying throwing away documents that are no longer used. These thoughts are the root of procrastination, making it more difficult for you to break free from this negative behavior.

Procrastination will always have a negative impact. Try to think of the positive impact of not procrastinating. Consider rewards if you can fulfill your responsibilities without delaying them. For example, if you clean up a messy dining table, you can eat comfortably without worrying about rats passing by.

OHIO rule

OHIO is an acronym for Only Handle It Once. This rule can be applied by asking yourself reflective questions to decide whether the item will be stored or disposed of immediately. If an item is considered to still have benefits or is considered important, then think about where the item will be stored.

Work in a system

Designing daily routines can be another way to break free from procrastination. In creating a daily routine, the first thing is to make a realistic plan and commit to it so that you can fulfill it. For example, if Monday is scheduled for cleaning the living room, then make a list of activities in more detail regarding what will be done on that day and in that room.

Give yourself a reward

Rewards can be a strong motivation, so don’t hesitate to reward yourself when you complete a task. For example, when you are not delaying home organization activities before the weekend, you will have more time on weekends for fun activities, such as going to the beach or watching movies in the cinema.

In conclusion

Procrastination is a detrimental behavior that can negatively affect mental health and living conditions, resulting in ongoing delays. Despite its adverse effects, almost everyone has procrastinated at some point in their lives. Contributing factors may include poor self-regulation, impulsivity, and hoarding tendencies. Therefore, it’s essential to gradually break free from procrastination by starting with self-motivation.

If you would like to see more resources on procrastination, visit the Home Organization Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Check out the Home Organization Science Labs today.

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