7 Ways to Overcome Your Procrastination
Updated: 09/10/2022 – There are many times in life when each of us procrastinates. Actually, 20% of adults identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. This causes all kinds of problems. Here are 7 ways to overcome your procrastination.
What is Procrastination?
First, what is procrastination? It’s the action of delaying or postponing something.
That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? It appears that the task will eventually get done.
But it comes at a cost. There are definitely some pitfalls in putting things off.
“I do my best work under pressure.”
Have you ever heard anyone say this? Perhaps you have thought this of yourself at some point. But can it be true?
Waiting until the last minute to get a job done causes undue pressure in many cases.
Studies find that procrastinators suffer from health problems, poor performance, sleep issues, and some regrets.
It also brings undue stress, not just to the procrastinator but also to those around her as well.
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you ever think about how procrastination affects you? And your productivity?
Why do We Procrastinate?
Have you ever looked at the underlying reason as to why you put things off for later?
Perfectionists are classic procrastinators. Possibly because they want to delay the possibility of failure, or the result not being good enough. And if the final work product isn’t perfect, they may face the wrath of the boss or criticism from others.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead of us. There are so many excuses – it’ll take too long, it’s too hard, maybe someone else will do it, or if I ignore it, it will just go away.
For any explanation that we can come up with, we can put a STOP to procrastination.
And here’s how.
Chunking is my first of 7 ways to overcome your procrastination.
It is taking a goal, or task, and breaking it down into manageable steps.
Chunking down makes the goal less daunting and will give you the push you need to successfully complete the task.
Changing the clothes in my closet as seasons change is always a task that I dread.
I don’t have the luxury of a walk-in closet so I rotate my fall/winter wardrobe into bins and hang up my spring/summer clothes. Oftentimes, instead of just getting it done, I’ll pull clothes out of the bin as I need them. This usually ends up with clothes just being strewn on the floor of the closet which creates a huge mess!
There have been times when I’ve looked for an item, only to find that it was donated because it was on the giveaway pile in the closet!
So I’ve found that my system had to be overhauled.
My solution is to spread the task of changing out my closet across a number of days.
- Day One – go through my closet and pull out clothes that will be donated;
- Day Two – fold up the remaining clothes to be stored
- Day Three – change out the season’s clothing.
After these breaks, I come back with fresh energy and a clear head so that I don’t make rash decisions (like donating needed items) that I live to regret.
2. Create a Schedule
Now that you know how to chunk down into manageable steps, try scheduling a time to do each job.
If you’re a morning person, put your task onto your calendar for 9 AM. Get up, have your coffee, (don’t forget a good breakfast), and then get to work.
But don’t overload your schedule as this may cause a setback for you again. Seeing a calendar with nothing but work could push that procrastinating mind back into overwhelm.
When creating a schedule, make sure to:
- put your task onto the calendar with a set starting time;
- schedule breaks (place them onto your calendar as well;
- decide what time you will finish for the day and highlight that on your calendar
If the job will take longer than a day, mark your proposed completion day on your calendar. By doing this, you can visually see that you won’t be working on this task forever
If for some reason you fall behind, reschedule your task in the same manner. Failure to do so will cause you to backslide right back into the realm of procrastination.
3. Focus on Long-term Gains
When you’re starting on a big project, rather than thinking about how long it will take or how much you dislike some of the tasks you will have to perform, focus on the finished product. Picture what the end result will look like and how happy it will make you feel. #3 is one of my favorites of 7 ways to overcome your procrastination.
Let’s use an example of redecorating your living room.
Looking at magazines for inspiration, checking out color swatches for curtains, and shopping for supplies is the fun part of a redo.
You’re excited as you move the furniture out, cover up the floor and start rolling on the paint.
Two walls are painted and you’re tired. You take a break. The kids want dinner, an old friend calls to chat, and before you know it, it’s time for bed.
The next day the distractions continue until you just want to give up on the project and move everything back into the room. Or, worse yet, you start using the room as is!
The key to overcoming procrastination on a big project is to focus on the end result.
In the example that I used, picture yourself entertaining in your new space. Envision the kids lying on the new rug playing a game or you, feet up on the chaise, reading a good book with the warm sun beaming through the window.
Anytime you start to doubt your ability to see the project through, recognize that doubting thought and switch your thinking to the great feeling you will have when you complete the task.
This will keep you motivated through to the finish line!
4. Eliminate Distractions
We all know how easy it is to get distracted. Especially when we’ve been putting off a job.
Distractions can derail even the easiest task.
So, to give yourself a better chance of finishing your chore, eliminate anything that can distract you. This includes silencing the phone and any noises from the phone that alerts you to incoming calls, messages, email, social media, etc.
Turn off the TV.
However, if having your favorite music blaring will raise your energy levels and make the chore go quicker, then, by all means, turn it up! Get your groove on!
If the kids are prone to interrupting you, try to have someone to keep them busy or, if they are old enough, ask them to keep themselves occupied.
Your surroundings may also be a cause of distraction, particularly if you are working from home or have a huge term paper due. Keep the room well-lit and the temperature set to keep you comfortable. If it’s a nice spring day, open the windows for some fresh air.
Eliminating distractions and having a tranquil environment to help you focus will set you up for success!
5. Get Rid of Have-to’s
Getting rid of have-to’s is one of the 7 ways to overcome your procrastination.
When the alarm goes off at 6:30 AM, what’s the first thought that goes through your head? Ugh, I have to go to the gym, I have to walk the dog before I go to work, and since I didn’t get to the grocery store yesterday, I have to eat plain oatmeal again.
Throughout the day, count how many “have-to’s” go through your mind. Have to – make dinner, stop at the grocery store on my way home from work, and get to my meeting on time.
We also use other words as well such as must, should, and ought, to name a few.
Does this kind of self-talk sound positive to you? If you’re being truthful, probably not. It sounds fairly negative. Actually, it puts an extra burden on your shoulders during the day when you hear such thoughts.
Try changing up this kind (and tone) of conversation that you have with yourself.
Get up in the morning when the alarm goes off and say, “Yes! I get to go to the gym”. “A quick shower before work will give a kick-start to my day”, ” I get to go to the grocery store to pick up something different to make for dinner tonight!”
Put some positivity and exuberance into your self-talk. Make it exciting to be alive and to have the ability to do things of your own volition.
Changing your conversation with yourself will change your negative mood and help to propel you forward to get to the task completed rather than hold yourself back and continue to procrastinate!
6. Prioritize Your To-do List
We so look forward to Saturdays. A day off from work – time to unwind. But, for most busy women, it’s also a day to get our to-do lists accomplished.
Grocery shopping, laundry, some light housework, etc.
As you make your list of chores, put an easy task at the top of the list and get it done first. Once finished, cross it off the list. Ta-da! That was easy!
See, already you’ve accomplished something. This should help to get your momentum going as you move on down the list!
7. Immediate Reward
Do you remember as a child, your parents offered a reward after you completed all of your homework? I recall being able to play outside or have a bowl of ice cream after the dinner dishes were finished.
Adults are motivated in the same way. Think about it. Would you be more likely to tackle cleaning the dirty bathroom floor if you knew that the last chocolate cupcake is waiting for you?
Research shows that rewards act as a motivator. There is also evidence that immediate rewards (and frequent rewards) offer an even better outcome.
So next time you find yourself putting off a task, decide what special treat will motivate you to get the job done.
Practice the 7 Ways to Overcome Your Procrastination
If you are one of the 20% of chronic procrastinators or someone who is frequently behind because of pushing things off into the future, try 1, 2, or all of these 7 ways to overcome your procrastination.
While you may find it difficult to break this habit, once you recognize your procrastination, you can quickly go into action using one or all of these tools.
And besides, having a chocolate cupcake on hand is a huge motivator!🧁
Sign up for email notifications for new articles posted to Dream. Explore. Discover You. You’ll also receive access to the Dream Life Toolkit, which is full of free journal pages, prompts, guides, activities, and so much more! While you’re there, download the worksheets for “Overcome Your Procrastination“.