January 31


How To Stop Procrastinating

You’re not lazy you just need to stop procrastinating. That’s easier said than done though.

According to Wikipedia procrastination is

the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and therefore putting off important tasks to a later time.

Everyone procrastinates at some time, it is part of being a normal human being.

Procrastination isn’t always bad. I had a job once that required monthly reports that I hated doing and I’d always put it off until the last minute. I’d get them done in time though because I wasn’t worried about making them perfect and I usually work quite well under pressure. I also had a boss at the time who often changed her mind at the last minute about what reports she wanted. So if I was working ahead then I could easily have created a report that she later changed her mind about so sometimes putting things off means you don’t have to do it at all.

If that’s the way you chose to work, at least about some things, then do it consciously rather than beating yourself up about being lazy. Plan that time for procrastination in, otherwise, you will miss deadlines.

If leaving things until the last minute causes anxiety or you do end up missing deadlines or just not getting stuff done then the trick to knowing how to stop procrastinating is to work out what the procrastination is telling you.

Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill

– Christopher Parker

Once you understand what it is telling you then you can make an informed decision and stop beating yourself up about it.  Sarah wanted to do more exercise so put 3 hours aside over the course of the week to go for a run.  After a few weeks the running was non-existent because she was “too busy” When she asked me for advice on how to stop procrastinating about exercise it turned out that although she really did want to be healthier and fitter she had chosen running because it was free.

What she really wanted to do was join a gym but she felt spending money on a gym when she should be able to get fit on her own was selfish.  Some people love running and if that’s you great. But Sarah was doing what she thought she SHOULD do rather than what she really wanted to do and this was causing the procrastination.

The procrastination was telling her that she didn’t like running and she didn’t value herself enough to make the investment in a gym membership.  Once she viewed herself and her health as important and realised that it affected the rest of her life including her family she reviewed her spending habits, admitted to herself that she didn’t need to buy new shoes quite so often and signed up at the gym.

There are all kinds of reasons people procrastinate. Some do it because they don’t like the task, others do it because other things mean more to them, and some people might be struggling with depression, or just feeling down.

No matter what your reasons for procrastinating, you can take control and get more done.

  1. Acknowledge that you procrastinate. Do you do it in all areas or just some? You can’t improve a situation until you have full awareness.
  2. Think about how you’ll feel when you’ve finished the task. What will be different when you’ve completed the thing you’ve been avoiding? If nothing else, won’t you feel relieved when it’s finally done? These thoughts can motivate you to take action.
  3. Consider how you’ll feel when the job isn’t finished. If you continue to procrastinate, how will you feel about it? Use those negative feelings as motivation to get the job done now.
  4. Stop making excuses. Maybe you think you’ll do a poor job or you convince yourself you’ll do a better job when you’re down to the wire. Instead of making excuses be honest with yourself. So if you hate cutting the grass be honest with yourself. If its because you hate gardening pay a gardener and use the time to do something you enjoy doing instead.
  5. Set goals and make a list of what needs to be done. Jot down a list of things you’ve been procrastinating about. Then, next to each task, write down your completion date.
  6. Celebrate your successes. When you complete a task you’ve been putting off, reward yourself. It might be a dinner out with a friend, a trip to see a film, or a relaxing pedicure. Be proud of yourself for stopping the cycle of procrastination.

My Biggest Tip To Stop Procrastinating :

If you’re a skimmer and want just one big tip to stop procrastinating it’s to find 15 minutes to do a chunk of the task you are putting off. Think of a small reward you will give yourself after you are complete and then schedule that task at whatever time of day you feel most energised.

So let’s say you’re a morning person and you want to clear your desk. Make a promise to yourself (or me if you wish Julia@Julia-Harris.Com) that tomorrow morning you will spend 15 minutes decluttering.  When you are finished you have a reward to look forward to.

Often getting started is the hard part so the 15 minutes might turn into an hour but even if it doesn’t and you only do 15 minutes you will have a sense of achievement to prompt you to schedule in the next 15 minutes and a small step is better than doing nothing!!

Time to reflect

Next time you find you are procrastinating ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where do I want to be this time next week / next month / next year?
  2. What do I need to do today to ensure that I am on plan and heading in the right direction?
  3. What fear, habit, or behaviour am I willing to give up to fulfil my goal?

Let me know what your biggest challenge is around procrastination or feeling overwhelmed. Leave a comment below or you can connect with me on Instagram or Linkedin

For a FREE overwhelm checklist (and how to fix it) CLICK HERE


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