How To Overcome Chronic Procrastination
Updated on 21 Dec 2022 • 4 min read
Discipline is doing the things you should be doing, even when you don’t feel like doing them (...) If you can develop the ability to do that, you can achieve virtually anything.Rory Vaden
You’re sitting in front of your laptop.
You’ve got your charger, your phone, and some water. You’re ready to work.
As you look around you, you see a beautiful plant across your desk. Your mind starts to wander, thinking about how beautiful it is and how you would like to have one like this at home. After a few minutes, you’ve reviewed every item you have in your house and are making a mental list of home accessories you need to buy.
You try to shake off all these thoughts and get back to your screen again. You look at the time displayed in the bottom corner. You still have plenty of time to get this project finished. How about you go shopping for home accessories and get back to it later?
No big deal, right?
This example is the epitome of procrastination, and if this scenario sounds familiar, it means that you might be experiencing chronic procrastination.
While procrastinating is part of our evolutionary makeup, the issue arises when it becomes chronic. That’s because chronic procrastination significantly impacts your productivity and can prevent you from achieving your goals.
So, to help you, we’ve shared below four practical tips on how to stop procrastinating. But first, let’s review what procrastination means.
What Is Procrastination
Procrastination involves delaying or postponing a task, a set of tasks, or a goal that needs to be completed or achieved to do something less important instead.
There are three types of procrastination.
This is the classic “I’ll do it later.” Classic procrastination involves delaying a task, adding to the future workload. For instance, you’ve received a couple of bills, and you decide you’ll pay them later because you’re too tired right now.
This form of procrastination involves finding creative ways not to do what you’re supposed to do. It’s all about creating tasks you don’t necessarily have to perform right now, so you don’t have to do the more urgent and important tasks.
For instance, you’re cleaning the house when you should be studying instead. Or you decided to proactively email a client about something that’s unimportant when you should be working on a specific project.
This might surprise you, but this form of procrastination typically affects overachievers. When people engage in priority dilution, their mind shifts from important tasks to tasks that are less important but might seem more urgent. The issue is that at the end of the day, the results stay the same. While they worked hard all day, the most important tasks got delayed.
Why Do People Procrastinate?
As mentioned, procrastination is part of normal human behavior. And studies are clear; it isn’t about laziness or bad management.
So what is it about?
- Prioritizing short-term mood; if you don’t feel like doing a task right now, you might postpone it so that you can feel good in the short term.
- Finding a task or set of tasks boring or unpleasant.
- Being anxious about being able to perform the task and how others will perceive your work.
- Being a perfectionist: not wanting to perform a task because you’re worried it won’t be perfect.
- Denying the negative consequences delaying a task can have on you.
- Not wanting to make the effort this task requires.
- Not clearly visualizing how achieving a task can help you achieve your overarching goals.
- Experiencing an underlying condition such as depression.
- Feeling low on energy.
- Being in a distracting environment that prevents you from concentrating.
4 Tips on How to Stop Procrastinating
Now that we’ve reviewed the main factors that can impact your ability to take action and increase productivity, let’s look at our four practical tips on how to stop procrastination.
Break Down The Steps
Breaking down big tasks into smaller tasks will make your overarching tasks seem more achievable.
For instance, if you have to complete a big project by the end of the week, break down the steps you have to accomplish to get the job done. Listing smaller tasks with deadlines for each will seem less daunting and allow you to stay focused. Besides, ticking them off your to-do list as you go will help keep you motivated.
To help you in managing your tasks, tools such as Todoist, Google Tasks, or Things can be really helpful.
Work In Blocks
One of the most difficult things to do when studying for an exam or working on a project is to get started. If you add huge tasks that require hours and hours of work at once to your daily to-do list, you’re at risk of being distracted, which may lead to procrastination.
So, we’d recommend using the Pomodoro technique and working in blocks. Each block of time is dedicated to one small task. Based on the Pomodoro technique, you should work in blocks of 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break at the end of each block. And during these 25 minutes, you should focus on one single task.
This will, once again, make things more manageable and allow you to keep your focus on the task at hand. On the other hand, working for hours on end on a project will make it easier for your mind to get distracted and start wandering.
Set The Bar Low
Setting the bar lower than what you’re capable of doing is a great way to prompt you to get started and motivate you to keep going as you feel like you’re tracking better than expected.
For instance, if you tell yourself you need to study five chapters every week for a month, you might find yourself too busy to do it and postpone every day. And this, in turn, can lead you to leave your studies until the last minute, increasing your level of stress and anxiety.
Now, by lowering the bar and setting it to one chapter a week for a month, you might find yourself reading a chapter most days, exceeding your goal while still keeping things manageable.
Reward Yourself For Taking Action
When procrastinating, taking action is difficult. So, every time you achieve a task, however small it might be, it’s important to reward yourself.
For instance, once you’re done with an important task or set of tasks, meet your friends for a meal or watch your favorite TV show. This will help you stay focused while you complete the task, as you know that the sooner it’s done, the earlier you’ll be able to enjoy your reward.
Be Consistent to Achieve Your Goal
And that’s a wrap for today.
We hope these tips will help you better understand how to avoid procrastination. Remember, as Alexander Graham Bell once said, “The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.” And the good news is that you’re on the right path. Looking for tips on procrastination means you’re already taking action, and you’re only a few steps away from overcoming procrastination.