Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are having a tough time beating procrastination. Remember, you are human and we love to sit and stew in our own uncompleted mess of work sometimes. Just work hard to get out of it.
How to Stop Procrastinating: 5 Tips from a Psychologist
What It Is
Who It’s For
Productive Procrastination tends to be especially useful for people who have a lot of negative emotions around procrastination. If you tend to beat yourself up internally, think of yourself as a procrastinator, or find yourself ruminating and worrying a lot about your procrastination, productive procrastination is probably a good place to start.
How To Do It
Most people who struggle with procrastination have developed unhelpful mental habits around how they talk to themselves about procrastination. They tend to be overly judgmental and critical of themselves, saying things like “I wish I wasn’t such a procrastinator” or “Why can’t I just get it together and get things done like everyone else?!”
The problem with self-talk like this is that it adds a second layer of negative emotion on top of your already negative feelings about your work. Feeling afraid or frustrated about what you need to do is hard enough without also feeling guilty and ashamed.
If you can make time on a regular basis to cultivate your many different interests and curiosities in small ways, you’ll be less likely to feel the need to indulge them in big ways via procrastination on a major task.
To do this, allow yourself to procrastinate regularly, but do it intentionally. If you have 3 hours of studying to do today, set up 10 minutes at the end of each hour to indulge your procrastination guilt-free.
In both cases, procrastination will lead to a loss of productivity. But in the case of Procrastinator B, their interests (computer science and website design) have synergies or complementarity with their work.
Productive Procrastination Takeaways:
5 ways to overcome procrastination
You might be in a position where you’re ready to tackle procrastination. If you’ve noticed that you’re putting off projects and it’s impacting your life, you’re not alone. It’s also important to recognize that it is possible to overcome procrastination.
5 ways to overcome procrastination
Recognize procrastination when it happens
Are you pushing this off because you’re afraid of something? If so, what are you afraid of? Would you feel better if you were able to accomplish this task? How will procrastinating on this task make you feel?
By identifying your tendency to procrastinate, you’re making incredible progress. It can be hard to be aware of your own actions. Understanding when you’re procrastinating can be so beneficial to overcoming procrastination.
Try breaking down your procrastinated project into small bits. What small action can you take to help get the ball rolling? Try focusing on just that small action. You might find that once you start small, you’ll continue to make progress on the rest of the work.
You can also work in a reward system for tackling small tasks. For example, let’s say you’ve been putting off cleaning your kitchen. Once you unload and load the dishwasher, consider rewarding yourself. You might take a walk outside, go grab a coffee, or allow yourself to listen to a podcast.
List out what will happen if you procrastinate
The next time you want to put off a project, grab a pen and paper. Write out a list of what will happen if you do procrastinate. Then, write out a list of what will happen if you don’t procrastinate. Think about the feelings associated with each decision and write them down.
Compare your lists. By evaluating the cost of procrastination, you’re forcing your logical brain to weigh the pros and cons. Sometimes, you can unconsciously sabotage your own chance of success. In your lists, you might see cognitive biases or irrational beliefs.
If you’re prone to distraction, try to disconnect yourself as much as possible. For example, if you know that Slack or email can be distracting to getting your work done, can you close out of them? Or if you regularly check social media instead of accomplishing a task at home, can you disconnect from your phone?
Force yourself to make a block of time dedicated to a particular task. Set specific deadlines or create a workflow to meet in that block of time. Find small ways to separate yourself from your distractions. By disconnecting, you’re enabling yourself to better focus on the task at hand. You’re also setting yourself up for success.
Work with a coach
When working with your coach, be vulnerable and honest about any underlying self-beliefs around procrastination. For example, if you’re afraid of having a tough conversation with a co-worker, ask your coach to help you work through “the why.” You might feel like you’re exposing yourself to risk. You might feel like you’re putting your working relationship to the test.
Get a Motivation Buddy
Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.
This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.
For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.
Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome
What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.
At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.
I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.
Self-talk – Notice how you are thinking, and talking to yourself. Talk to yourself in ways that remind you of your goals and replace old, counter-productive habits of self-talk. Instead of saying, "I wish I hadn’t. " say, "I will . "
How to Overcome Procrastination
Step 1: Recognize That You’re Procrastinating
You might be putting off a task because you’ve had to re-prioritize your workload. If you’re briefly delaying an important task for a genuinely good reason, then you aren’t necessarily procrastinating. However, if you start to put things off indefinitely, or switch focus because you want to avoid doing something, then you probably are.
Step 2: Work Out WHY You’re Procrastinating
For instance, are you avoiding a particular task because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take steps to get it out of the way quickly, so that you can focus on the aspects of your job that you find more enjoyable.
Poor organization can lead to procrastination. Organized people successfully overcome it because they use prioritized To-Do Lists and create effective schedules . These tools help you to organize your tasks by priority and deadline.
Even if you’re organized, you can still feel overwhelmed by a task. Perhaps you have doubts about your ability and are worried about failing , so you put it off and seek comfort in doing work that you know that you’re capable of completing.
Also, research suggests that procrastination can be a cause of serious stress and illness. So, if you suffer from chronic or debilitating procrastination, one of these conditions could be to blame, and you should seek the advice of a trained professional.
Awareness: The First Step
First, to overcome procrastination you need to have an understanding of the REASONS WHY you procrastinate and the function procrastination serves in your life. You can’t come up with an effective solution if you don’t really understand the root of the problem. As with most problems, awareness and self-knowledge are the keys to figuring out how to stop procrastinating. For a lot of people acquiring this insight about how procrastination protects them from feeling like they are not able enough, and keeping it in mind when they are tempted to fall into familiar, unproductive, procrastinating habits goes a long way to solving the problem. For instance, two psychologists, Jane Burka and Lenora Yuen, who have helped many people overcome procrastination, report in their article, "Mind Games Procrastinators Play" (Psychology Today, January, 1982), that for many students "understanding the hidden roots of procrastination often seems to weaken them" (p.33). Just knowing our true reasons for procrastinating makes it easier to stop.
To overcome procrastination time management techniques and tools are indispensable, but they are not enough by themselves. And, not all methods of managing time are equally helpful in dealing with procrastination. There are some time management techniques that are well suited to overcoming procrastination and others that can make it worse. Those that reduce anxiety and fear and emphasize the satisfaction and rewards of completing tasks work best. Those that arc inflexible, emphasize the magnitude of tasks and increase anxiety can actually increase procrastination and are thus counter-productive. For instance, making a huge list of "things to do" or scheduling every minute of your day may INCREASE your stress and thus procrastination. Instead, set reasonable goals (e.g. a manageable list of things to do), break big tasks down, and give yourself flexibility and allot time to things you enjoy as rewards for work completed.
Motivation: Finding Productive Reasons for Engaging in Tasks
To overcome procrastination it’s critical that you stay motivated for PRODUCTIVE REASONS. By productive reasons I mean reasons for learning and achieving that lead to positive, productive, satisfying feelings and actions. These reasons are in contrast to engaging in a task out of fear of failing, or not making your parents angry, or not looking stupid, or doing better than other people to "show off." While these are all reasons – often very powerful ones – for doing something, they are not productive since they evoke maladaptive, often negative feelings and actions. For example, if you are concerned with not looking dumb you may not ask questions, delve into new areas, try new methods, or take the risks necessary to learn new things and reach new heights. A good way to put positive motives in motion is to set and focus on your goals. Identify and write down your own personal reasons for enrolling in a course and monitor your progress toward your goals using a goal-setting chart. Remember to focus on your reasons and your goals. Other people’s goals for you are not goals at all, but obligations.
Another key to overcoming procrastination is to stay actively engaged in your classes. If you are passive in class you’re probably not "getting into" the course and its topics, and that weakens your motivation. What’s more, if you are passive you are probably not making as much sense out of the course and course materials as you could. Nonsense and confusion are not engaging; in fact, they are boring and frustrating. We don’t often want to do things that are boring or frustrating. Prevent that by aiming to really understand course material, not memorize it or just "get through it." Instead, try (1) seeking out what is interesting and relevant to you in the course materials, (2) setting your own purpose for every reading and class session, and (3) asking yourself (and others) questions about what you are learning.
As you establish your schedule, set yourself up for success. Projects often take much longer than expected, so bake in some extra time. And look for ways to make it easier on yourself: If, for example, you are not a morning person, don’t expect yourself to get up an hour early to start the exercise program you have put off for months. It might be better to schedule that activity during lunch or before dinner.
When a task seems overbearing, procrastination often follows. So how can you break that task into smaller, more manageable parts? For example, if you want to write a book, you may choose to make an outline, identify each chapter, figure out the sections in the chapters, and then commit to writing one segment at a time. Chunking it down like this will help you feel less overwhelmed and more empowered.
Procrastination Essential Reads
Establish specific deadlines for completing a task. Then find someone who will help you be accountable. It could be a promise to your boss or client that you will complete the job by a certain date. Or it may be a coach who helps you stay on track. Or simply find an accountability partner. In this relationship, you connect with someone (on the phone, for example) at certain time intervals (such as once per week) and commit to what you will do before your next meeting. Not wanting to go back on your word, this can be a great way to squash procrastination. (Note: In an effort to save your relationship with your significant other, I recommend this person not be your partner. You don’t want a lack of follow-through to cause tension between you.)
Your environment can help or hinder your productivity. Beware especially of technology, such as your email or messenger that keeps pinging to let you know someone has reached out. Social media, internet “research” that leads you far off track, and phone calls can lead to procrastination.
So try this: During your scheduled block of time for working on a particular task, close your email and IM, turn off your phone (or at least set it on “Do Not Disturb” and put it out of sight), and don’t let yourself get on the web until you have completed the task, or hold off any necessary internet searches until the end.
Establish a reward if—and only if—you do what you set out to do. Do not let yourself binge that new Netflix show, check your social media, or get lunch until you complete what you’ve scheduled. So instead of using these tasks and distractions to procrastinate, make them contingent on you actually finishing what you schedule yourself to do.
Stop beating yourself up about the past. Thoughts such as “I should have started earlier” or “I always procrastinate; I am such a loser” will only make matters worse. Research shows that forgiving yourself for past procrastination will help you stop putting off working on a task.
You can try to use past procrastination to your advantage as well. How? Determine what went into your avoidance—fear, stress, not having a good understanding of how to progress, lack of accountability, etc. Then address those obstacles in the present and future. If, for example, it was fear that contributed to your procrastination, what steps can you take to feel more empowered and less fearful next time around?
Perfectionism is an all-or-nothing mentality: Something is either perfect, or it is a failure. People with perfectionistic tendencies tend to wait until things are perfect in order to proceed—so, if it’s not perfect, you cannot be finished. Or if it is not the perfect time, you believe you can’t start. This all-or-nothing mentality can hold you back from starting or completing tasks.
Instead, focus on being better than perfect. This means to still strive for excellence, creating excellence, or setting yourself up with excellent conditions, but at the same time, you focus on getting the job done. Done is better than perfect.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.” “Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
Student Procrastination: Why Students Procrastinate and How to Stop It
Student procrastination is a widespread and serious problem, which affects students at all levels. It’s also a complicated problem, since different students procrastinate for different reasons, and they can therefore benefit from different solutions when it comes to overcoming their procrastination.
The following article provides a comprehensive and practical guide to the problem of student procrastination. Its goals are to first help you understand why students procrastinate, and then show you what students can do in order to stop procrastinating and start studying. This will be beneficial whether you’re a student yourself, or someone such as a parent or a teacher who wants to help students overcome their procrastination.
The problem of student procrastination
Examples of student procrastination
A simple example of student procrastination is a student who needs to sit down and finish their homework, but instead wastes time on the internet all day and only starts working late at night, even though they wish they could have gotten started earlier.
How common student procrastination is
Procrastination is very common among students. For example, studies show that approximately 50% of college students say that they procrastinate in a consistent and problematic manner, approximately 70% consider themselves to be procrastinators, and approximately 80%–95% engage in procrastination to some degree.
Furthermore, research shows that procrastination is common among other student populations, including elementary-school students, middle-school students, and graduate students. In fact, procrastination is so common among students that the tendency to procrastinate on tasks until right before they are due is sometimes referred to as the student syndrome.
Finally, note that the prevalence of procrastination also varies based on the task involved. For example, a study on students in an introductory psychology course indicated that ~46% of them always or nearly always procrastinate on writing term papers, ~30% procrastinate on reading weekly assignments, ~28% procrastinate on studying for exams, ~23% procrastinate on attendance tasks, ~11% procrastinate on administrative tasks, and ~10% procrastinate on school activities in general.
How procrastination affects students
- In terms of time management, procrastination can take up a considerable amount of time, and students often report that procrastination occupies over a third of their daily activities, usually in the form of behaviors such as sleeping, watching TV, or playing games. It can also cause them to experience other time-management issues, such as missing important deadlines, or rushing to complete assignments without enough time.
- In terms of academic performance, procrastination can lead to various issues, including worse exam scores, worse grades, more course failures, and more course withdrawals. Many of these issues can be attributed to issues that procrastination causes in terms of time management. For example, if students fail to manage their time by continually putting off studying for an important test, they will likely end up unprepared, and therefore earn a worse grade than they could have earned if they didn’t procrastinate.
- In terms of emotional wellbeing and mental and physical health, procrastination can lead to a variety of issues, such as increased stress and increased rates of illness. Many of these issues are associated with the issues that students experience in terms of their time management and academic performance. For example, if a student submits an assignment late due to procrastination and ends up receiving a bad grade, then they might feel anxiety, guilt, and stress over their behavior.
Given this, and given how common procrastination is, it’s unsurprising that many students say that procrastination is always or nearly always a problem for them when it comes to various academic tasks (e.g., writing papers and studying for exams), and that they want to reduce their procrastination on those tasks.
In addition, procrastination can also cause serious issues for students once they leave academia and enter the job market, since many of the above issues extend to adults outside academia, and since procrastination is associated with further issues, such as lower salaries, shorter periods of employment, a higher likelihood of unemployment, and lower financial success in general.
Proven tips to overcome acute procrastination
You probably went from your room to the kitchen to check if all the food was still in the fridge and took a bite or two. You all of a sudden needed to go to the toilet. You browsed a website or two to relax, counted the number of windows in the building next to yours, and so on.
But there is another thing that you probably did: you tidied up your room and your desk, arranged all the notes, stretched a little bit, talked with your classmates about what could be in the test, and other semi-productive tasks. You see where this is going?
How to create a
productive & organized
working place, where people
love to perform
Chronic procrastination – a tougher nut to crack (but it can be done)
Luckily, a lack of assertiveness usually happens only in a specific context. For example, someone who is very assertive and competent on a soccer field may not be in intellectual matters. A successful professor may not be as skillful when it comes to money management.
Success brings things like fame, financial abundance, being the center of attention, good feelings about yourself, and so on. If you don’t feel like you deserve success and everything that comes with it, you will always self-sabotage.
The techniques to overcome fears are similar to those used in assertiveness training. Expose yourself to smaller challenges, join group or individual therapy to explore the underlying reasons, and try techniques like visualization, affirmations, etc.
Easy to clock-in and out. Timesheets always up-to-date. Manage and approve absences.
In one way or another, emotions tend to be the factor that derails us from our work and leads to procrastination. And mindfulness is the best way to cultivate a better, less reactive relationship with our emotions.
What It Is
Who It’s For
Suppose you’re sitting down to finish writing a report for work and a notification pops up on your phone letting you know that you have a new text from that guy you’ve been dating. Immediately you feel a sense of excitement and your instinctive response is to indulge that feeling of excitement by instantly checking your phone and texting back.
How To Do It
Conclusion and More Resources
Additional Resources to Help You Stop Procrastinating
Can you please describe the difference between a professional psychologist and a psychologist? Is the difference just a matter of confidence, ie I’m not confident in my skills/abilities so im going to put ‘professional’ in front of psychologist ?
I don’t believe there’s a technical difference between the two, however, I often see “professional psychologists” used to distinguish people who actually practice psychology in a professional manner as opposed to those who studied it and maybe have a degree in it but don’t work in the field. That’s how I use it, anyway. Good question.
Hello again 🙂
The procrastination equation is in fact a more complete version of the expectancy theory where you choose between an action depending on the result of a simpler equation: probability x value. That’s why we choose a temptation because even though the value is minimal I’m holding a remote:)