Procrastination is when we put off doing an unpleasant task by completing a more pleasant, less urgent task in its place. Having a habit of procrastinating can really effect our career and education and can even lead to poor mental health. Procrastination often leads to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Fortunately, there are ways we can overcome procrastination and lead more productive lives.

Understand Why We Procrastinate:

The first step in solving many issues is to identify the causes for them. In relation to procrastination there are many different reasons that we may put off a task. These can include:

  • Low energy levels
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the task 
  • Feeling like the challenge is greater than our skill level
  • Difficulty seeing the benefit of the task
  • Distractions

Each cause has it’s own solution. Once you have identified the cause of your procrastination you can find the solution that will work for you from this article. 

Find Out When You Work Best

Our energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Do you accomplish more in the morning or the afternoon? Recognize when you’re most productive, and do the tasks that you find most challenging at these times.

Write Down Your Motivations for Completing the Task

When we have difficulty finding the benefit of the task we are completing, it can decrease our desire to complete them. Perhaps the task itself does not feel very rewarding, in which case you can make a list of the ultimate motivations for completing the task.

For example, you could have an assignment for work which is not so exciting in itself but if you do well you can get a promotion. A promotion will mean more money to spend on things you truly enjoy and more time for people that you are close to.

Keep a list on your desk of your motivations to complete the task at hand. Try to keep these motivations positive. Focus on what you will gain from completing the task rather than what you may lose by not completing it. Having this motivations list will help you see the purpose in your immediate task and allow you to associate it with what is important to you.

Reward Yourself for Accomplishments

Another thing you can do in order to find motivation in the short term is to give yourself a reward for completing a part of the task. For example, for every paragraph you write, let yourself watch a YouTube video.

Break Down Tasks into Manageable Portions

A large project can be very overwhelming. Organize your projects into smaller tasks and focus on beginning them, rather than on finishing them. The small victories will help keep up morale and motivate you to continue. You are more likely to feel like you are making some progress this way.

Start with Difficult Tasks

Get the tasks that you find least fun out of the way first. This will give you the remainder of the day to focus on work that you find more pleasant. If you get the biggest task out of the way first, the rest of your tasks will not feel as daunting. 

Set a Minimum Time to Work

Tell yourself you only have to work for 15 minutes today. This will trick you into starting the task. After the 15 minutes are up you may find yourself in a flow and wanting to continue. Often the most difficult part of any task is beginning it.

Remove any Distractions

The biggest reason a lot of us procrastinate is due to the many distractions that surround us. Luckily, there are many applications that can put a temporary ban on websites that might steer you away from your work. However, distractions can also occur in our immediate surroundings. If it is possible, find a quiet place to work. If you have to work in a noisy environment, purchase some ear plugs! That way you won’t be tempted to join in non-essential conversations.  

In summary…

Procrastination can be a very individual thing. Find out what your reasons for procrastination are and try to tackle it from there. Good luck on your journey to being a more productive version of yourself!

22 thoughts on “How to stop Procrastinating

  1. This should really help me! I have had 3 assignments to complete in the past 4 weeks (one I wrote 11K+ for) and so this final one is killing me and I keep procrastinating, hopefully breaking it down and identifying when I work best should help!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi ‘Psych Talk’
    I have a deep interest in the workings of the mind and consciousness. My take on it has been influenced by studying shamanism and taking many ‘vision journeys’ with elders and teachers from many traditions.
    From that perspective, procrastination is a symptom of the ‘shattered soul’ where a traumatic event has splintered off pieces of the core self which protect unresolved feelings or emotional trauma until a time when sufficient energy is available for healing or ‘soul retrieval.’ Feelings of being incomplete or ‘not enough’ to meet challenges leads to purposeful self distraction by protective elements within the psyche.
    Acknowledging that suppressed traumas exist, and setting the clear intention to be healed triggers a process that brings these feelings begin to surface. It can be a tricky process, but when the compartmentalisation of the self is resolved and confidence in being ‘enough’ or ‘more than enough’ to meet life’s challenges eliminates the need to self-distract. I suggest a dual approach. The techniques and tips you outline are excellent. Combined with the intention to become whole and re-empowered and a willingness to face the pain and hurt residing in the subconscious or unconscious aspects of the psyche, profound healing is possible. Shaman use psychedelic concoctions, and/or chants, rhythms and ritualistic drama to access and retrieve ‘soul fragments’ or ‘splinters.’ which they escort back to the conscious mind.
    Some people experience a renewal of some aspect of self such as humour or compassion which has been protecting the fragment (suppressed trauma). Reintegration of ‘missing soul parts’ takes a few months after the healing ritual or spontaneous retrieval. My experience of this was incredibly powerful.
    It is a beautiful thing that you give support and practical solutions. I hope my thoughts offer additional insights for any who might seek them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One more tip that might supplement your advice: when facing tasks you want to avoid, tell yourself over and over ‘I am enough.’ I place post it notes with that affirmation in strategic places to counteract the tendency to forget the task. I also look in the mirror and tell myself ‘I am enough, I am more than enough.’ It works surprisingly well for me. I hope it may also help others.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that there are also deep seated reasons behind procrastination as freemanchance2041 has pointed out.

    People can suffer from a lack of self worth, that they do not even deserve any success. Through this, people can develop self sabotaging and self defeating methods to avoid the root cause which is often pain or trauma.
    For example; OCD sufferers have highly complex rituals they undertake in order to mask the root issue and self soothe from the root pain or trauma.
    Procrastination is another way of avoiding the truth of the matter with any one individual.

    Mind, body and spirit do need to be taken into account, spirituality is often overlooked.
    As a Christian, I find my worth and identity in Jesus Christ.
    Mental and body motivation for a task may be sometimes lacking, however, if you lead with the spirit first, then the mind and the body, you will find a stronger motivating force behind everything you do even the little things.

    Everything is here for a reason, everything has purpose and a higher and valuable meaning. What you say to a person today can have a huge effect on their lives, so tread carefully, gently and with respect.
    Think of the butterfly effect.

    I do think our current societal model is failing people. People do want and need to see “the bigger picture” in all they do, they want and need to feel as though their actions matter. The problem with a postmodern, strictly materialist (and dare I say it “atheist” mindset) is that it leads to a form of nihilism, a type of “what is the point-ness” and there’s no meaning to anything.
    This is a dangerous ideology and belief system which I feel contributes to the scourge of depression and hopelessness that most in the world now face.

    My advice?
    Have faith.

    No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
    Hebrews 12:11

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is an interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing. I would recommend the book ‘the subtle art of not giving a f*ck’ by mark manson. It finds the positives of a nihilistic attitude and discusses how the need for meaning can also prevent us from achieving happiness. It is much more complex than I can explain in a comment, but check it out! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your reply and perspective. Manson’s perspective is very different from my own but I can understand how he got there.
        The happiness cult and Pollyanna-turn-that-frown-upside-down is horribly alienating and often just a bare faced lie about the reality of our day to day life. Nihilism is not for me though, as a depressive, I’ve battled against it for most of my life. It is the extreme opposite of the “sunshine and lollipops” brigade but still has many casualties in its wake.

        I am surrounded by defeated nihilists! There’s nothing new about nihilism it’s as old as punk rock!
        We all have subjectivity and free-will of course but personally, the search for meaning hasn’t scuppered me. It has helped me trade in the over dependence on a fleeting and fickle emotion called “happiness” for a longer lasting and more profound state of contentment and gratitude.

        Liked by 1 person

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