How to stop procrastinating: A step-by-step guide to improve your productivity.

how-to-stop-procrastinating

Procrastination can be a serious roadblock on the path to success. In fact, it’s the number one reason people fail. It sabotages everything: your career, finances, your relationships, and your health.

 It’s the enemy of motivation and productivity. Some people even call it “the disease of success.”

If you’ve ever been in a bad mood, you know the feeling of dread of sitting down to do your work. You try to convince yourself you’ll start your project tomorrow, and tomorrow comes and goes. 

Then, you tell yourself you’ll do it the next day, but the next day comes and goes. Before you know it, you’ve lost several days and your productivity is tanking.

After all, you can’t start something if you don’t know what it’s going to look like at the end. And until you know exactly what you’re going to do, how can you possibly start?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can overcome procrastination. But how to stop procrastinating? Here’s how.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is defined as the postponement of or avoidance of difficult, unpleasant, or time-consuming tasks. It can also refer to the act of deliberately delaying or avoiding something unconsciously. 

The word derives from the Latin verb procrastinare, meaning “to put off intentionally or habitually”.

While procrastination is often associated with schoolwork, work performance, or preparing for tests, procrastination can also be seen in other areas of life.

Examples of “procrastination” include:

. putting off studying until the night before a test

. putting off starting a project until it’s “too late” to complete it

. putting off exercising until you feel “too tired”

. putting off writing a report until the evening

. putting off cleaning your room until it’s “too late”

. putting off dealing with your financial responsibilities

What does procrastinating mean?

Procrastination is defined as the delayed completion of a task that should be done. For example, a student could procrastinate by waiting until the last minute to finish an assignment, paying their bills late, or doing their taxes at the last minute.

Procrastination is a symptom of poor time management, inattentiveness or low self-esteem. However, there are many non-psychological reasons why people procrastinate, including being disorganized, overscheduled, or distracted.

Procrastination is generally thought of as a negative behavior, but research shows that procrastination can have advantages. For example, it can increase motivation, improve problem-solving skills, and increase creativity.

But procrastination can also have serious disadvantages. It can prevent you from finishing tasks, undermining career and personal life. It can also cost you a lot of money.

Procrastination is a beast that many of us struggle with. It affects our productivity, our mood, and our ability to get things done.

It is a negative habit or a trait that can affect every aspect of life. Many studies show that procrastinators tend to score lower on intelligence tests, earn less, have lower academic achievement and have poorer career prospects.

Procrastinators aren’t just lazy. They suffer from a type of thinking called “planning fallacy” that involves planning for the future without setting short-term goals.

Here’s how procrastination works: You’re so busy worrying about tomorrow that you don’t have time to think about today. The fear is that if you start working on tomorrow, you won’t have enough time to finish today. And so you put off tomorrow’s tasks, which often turn into tomorrow’s problems.

Procrastination is a vicious cycle, because even when you do finally make progress, you have a tendency to give up. You started something, but now you’re not sure you have what it takes.

The problem, of course, is that procrastination can hurt you now and in the future. If you’re constantly putting off important tasks, you’re likely to see your productivity drop.

Types of procrastination

Procrastination occurs in several stages, including pre-decisional procrastination, preparatory procrastination, and post-decisional procrastination.

Indeed, depending on the situation, 3 types of procrastination may prevail, including:

1. pre-decisional procrastination. The act of delaying performing a task until a later date.

2. Preparatory procrastination. The act of delaying performing a task until later, usually with the intent of performing the task well.

3. Post-decisional procrastination. The act of delaying performing a task until a later date, usually with the intent of performing the task poorly.

What is a procrastinator?

A procrastinator is someone who tends to put off important tasks until later, usually with the excuse of lacking time, rather than due to laziness. The procrastinator is often in the habit of putting things off until “tomorrow” or “later,” which is, of course, the day of procrastination.

It turns out that procrastinators often get a bad rap. They seem to set themselves up for failure. They avoid tasks that seem too difficult, and they only tackle major projects when everything is perfect.

The truth is that procrastination is actually a normal part of human nature. It’s how we evolved to deal with uncertainty.

While a procrastinator might avoid taking on tasks that seem overwhelming, they’re likely also the people who are first to jump into action when faced with a real emergency.

So, procrastinators might not be so bad after all. However, being one does have its consequences. In fact, procrastination can actually be harmful.

For procrastinators, procrastination leads to more procrastination. Instead of getting things done, procrastinators spend most of each day worrying about things they haven’t done yet. When you’re a procrastinator, you end up working harder and harder at procrastination, and never accomplishing anything.

Types of procrastinators

Almost everyone procrastinates to some degree. It’s normal, but it can slow you down and make you late on deadlines. But some people have more of a procrastinator streak than others. Here are 5 types of procrastinators you should know and figure out which one of them is you.

1. The perfectionist

Perfectionists. Perfectionists tend to put off starting a task for fear of making mistakes. They wait until the last minute to start a project, and then spend hours trying to fix errors that should have never happened.

This can result in procrastination that spirals out of control. For example, a perfectionist might wait until the last minute to create a list of items to buy, and then decide at the last minute that she needs to buy even more items.

Perfectionists can also procrastinate by overthinking tasks. Rather than just finishing something, a perfectionist might spend hours debating what word to use in the title of a blog post.

Perfectionists sometimes have trouble moving past the fear of making mistakes, so they stay stuck in a state of paralysis.

2. The dreamer

The “dreamer” type of procrastinator is motivated but distracted. They procrastinate because of too many projects, too many ideas, too many opinions. They procrastinate because of fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the “what ifs”. They procrastinate because they’re afraid, and that’s the one thing that stops them from moving forward.

They are often charming in their own way, and when being creative, they can produce masterpieces.
The dreamer procrastinator is most compatible with a procrastinator who values creativity. They tend to be highly critical of other procrastinators, and often feels more inspired by them and usually attracted to other procrastinators, as they are seen as kindred spirits.

3. The avoider

The avoider type of procrastinator is not someone who typically has trouble with getting things done. He or she is just naturally a procrastinator and doesn’t realize there’s a problem.

The avoider type of procrastinator is generally successful at work, but struggles with personal commitments such as paying bills, exercising and completing household chores. The avoider’s biggest procrastination problem is starting projects, especially new commitments.

4. The crisis-Maker.

The crisis-maker type of procrastinator is a person who gets in the habit of putting off tasks until they’re facing a deadline that’s really close. In fact, they usually don’t even realize that they’re procrastinating until it’s already too late.

The crisis-maker type typically works slowly. They like to overthink things and put off making decisions. They may even procrastinate on things they don’t enjoy, such as cleaning the house or exercising. They’re also prone to making too many decisions a day, which can leave them feeling overwhelmed.

The crisis-making procrastinator may feel like a failure because they may miss an important deadline, and they may feel guilty about it. That’s why they try to avoid making big decisions. They like to wait until the last possible moment to get things in order.
The crisis-maker type tends to blame themselves for procrastinating, but they’re actually doing it for the wrong reasons.

5. The Busy procrastinator.

The busy procrastinator has issue of deciding what to do with their time when they are surrounded by loads of works. They don’t know how to choose the task that’s best for them and postpone making all of their decisions.

The busy procrastinator often has a hard time saying no. You know that feeling? Just when you sit down to work, you remember the to-do list, the emails that need your attention, and the list of projects still not finished.
The busy procrastinator is good at starting things, but hard at finishing them.

How to stop procrastinating?

Why do people procrastinate?

Procrastination is putting off completing a task or activity. People procrastinate for various reasons, such as not wanting to do something, being too busy or not having enough time, or feeling overwhelmed by a task.

People procrastinate at different stages of their lives. Children and adolescents often struggle with procrastination, because they generally lack the maturity to understand the need to get things done. 

People in their early 20s often postpone their tasks until later, but in their 20s and early 30s, it is more common for them to delay things until later in the evening or over the weekend.

People in their late 20s and early 30s often struggle with procrastination because of health issues, relationship problems or professional responsibilities. 

Some people, like students and employees, procrastinate because they are waiting for some other factor — like results or a promotion — to happen.

Some people procrastinate because they are afraid of failing at a task. This may be related to perfectionism, where a person feels it necessary to complete the task perfectly.

There are some people who procrastinate because they hate the process. For example, they would rather do the task than learn to do it.

Some people procrastinate because they have no desire to complete the task. This may be due to disinterest or incompetence.

Every individual is different, so nobody can tell you exactly what causes procrastination. However, there are some common symptoms.

We procrastinate to avoid failure, discomfort, feeling bad, or to avoid feeling anxious.

We procrastinate because we don’t know how long the task will take.

We procrastinate because we don’t have the necessary skills, motivation, resources, support, or enough time.

We procrastinate because we feel the task will be boring, unimportant, it’s too hard.

We procrastinate because we fear the consequences of the task.

We procrastinate because we feel the task is too much pressure.

We procrastinate because we simply don’t want to do it.

We procrastinate because we think someone else will do it better.

What causes procrastination?

Procrastination is a behavior that gets in the way of success. It is particularly common among procrastinators, who tend to put off tasks that they perceive to be difficult, risky, unpleasant or time-consuming.

While procrastination is most common among procrastinators, it can affect anyone. In fact, many successful people, such as novelists, Olympians and CEOs, admit to being chronic procrastinators.

Procrastination has a number of causes. Because there are so many different reasons why people procrastinate, it’s helpful to take a closer look at each.

Procrastination often has a complex cause. Often, procrastinators have multiple issues that contribute to the problem. For example, a procrastinator might be struggling to handle multiple responsibilities, or might have a fear of failure.

Procrastination can also be caused by external circumstances, such as distractions or a lack of motivation. People might put off tasks because they feel overwhelmed or because they need to wait for others.

Procrastination has psychological causes, because procrastination is often a sign of an underlying problem. Procrastinators might have low self-esteem, perfectionism, anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.

However, the causes of procrastination may vary by individual and situation. Some people have innate procrastinator tendencies, while others learn these habits over time.

The causes of procrastination may include:

Procrastination is caused by fear.

Procrastination is caused by Anxiety.

Procrastination is caused by laziness. 

Procrastination is caused by feeling stuck. 

Procrastination is caused by being overwhelmed. 

Procrastination is caused by being clueless. 

Procrastination is caused by being tired. 

Procrastination is caused by feeling busy. 

Procrastination is caused by feeling boredom

Reasons for procrastination

Some people procrastinate out of necessity because they have a lot of responsibility. Or, they could just be very busy. Here are some more reasons for procrastination.

We are emotionally tired.

We feel we need the pressure to perform, so we put things off till the last minute.

We want to do things perfectly and if it can’t be perfect; it seems better not to start at all.

The task is not in alignment with our values, wants, and hopes.

We believe we don’t have the skills or resources to complete the task.

We are afraid that we will fail at the task and so avoid it to manage the fear in the short term.

we are experiencing decision fatigue.

We are struggling with the feeling of not being good enough.

Psychology of procrastination

Procrastination is a state of inaction, typically regarding a task that needs to be done, or a decision to be made. Procrastination can be intentional, as when a person deliberately delays an action, or it can be unintentional, as when a person is unable to complete a task, or is incapable of making a decision.

According to psychologists, procrastination is motivated by the prioritization of short-term goals over long-term goals, by the avoidance of unpleasant tasks, and by perfectionism.

When procrastination is intentional, it can be a useful strategy to avoid an unpleasant task. However, when the procrastination is unintentional it can be detrimental to the productivity of one’s day.

Psychology researchers have long studied procrastination, and researchers have found that procrastinators tend to see tasks as less pleasant and effortful than individuals who complete tasks in a timely fashion.

The tendency to delay tasks can also be related to personality. Some procrastinators may have stronger self-control, and they may be less motivated by rewards — a trait that tends to be associated with good self-control.

When people procrastinate, their tasks typically remain incomplete. These tasks can become a source of anxiety, and procrastination can take a toll on a person’s well-being.

Research shows that procrastinators tend to make poorer decisions, and that procrastination can be linked to mental health issues including depression.

How to stop procrastinating?

How to stop procrastinating right now?

It’s a well-accepted fact that procrastination is the most commonly cited reason that people give for not getting things done.
But why?
Does it have to do with laziness?
Lack of motivation?
A lack of self-discipline?

It’s all of these things, but procrastination goes much deeper than that. The real problem is that procrastination isn’t about laziness or a lack of self-discipline — it’s a symptom of a deeper issue.

In today’s world, we’re constantly being told to be busy, to feel like we need to be doing something all the time.

The problem is that this mentality is an illusion. It’s true that the more we do, the more productive and accomplished we appear.

But it’s an illusion. In reality, the most productive people are the ones who don’t feel the need to constantly prove their value to the world.

They spend their days doing the things that bring them the most joy, and then they rest. They know that their self-worth isn’t tied to how much they accomplish, but rather to how much joy they bring to the world.

So they spend their lives doing the things that bring the most joy to them. And as a result, they have a huge impact.

They’re not constantly trying to impress people, much less trying to prove their self-worth. They spend their time doing the things that they love, and they make a huge impact as a result. So, in order to stop procrastinating right now, you need to stop trying to impress people.

You need to stop trying to prove your self-worth. You need to stop trying to be busy, and start focusing on doing the things that bring you joy. And you need to stop trying to impress people, and instead focus on doing the things that bring you joy.

When you do this consistently with self-discipline, eventually you will stop procrastinating and improve your productivity.

Steps to stop procrastinating

Punctuality and timeliness are qualities we often associate with successful people. Those of us with less-than-perfect habits often work extra hard to correct them, but have you ever wondered why some people struggle to meet their deadlines?

It may help to examine your previous attempts at completing tasks. If you tend to put off important things until the last minute, then you should practice these 15 steps to stop procrastinating.

1. Understand the reasons you procrastinate and how procrastination works.

The first step in overcoming a behavior is understanding it. You need to notice when you’re procrastinating, so you can identify it when it happens. You may also want to think about why you procrastinate, so you can figure out why you’re fighting it.

Before you can change how you act, you need to understand why you procrastinate.
Why did you put off that project?
Was it because you didn’t know where to start?
Did you feel overwhelmed by what needed to be done?
Did you fear failing?
Once you’ve identified the reasons you procrastinate, you can then address them and change the underlying causes.

2. Keep a to-do list.

Lists are an easy way to organize your thoughts and plan your day. You’ve probably heard this before, but writing things down is the single most effective way of breaking a habit.

And if you’re a procrastinator, they’re also a great way to put things off. If you’re tempted to put off work, create a list and tackle as many of the items on it as possible.

The act of writing something down forces you to commit to it. And the act of committing makes it more likely that you’ll do it.

3. Prioritize the important tasks

Focus on your most important tasks, and tackle them first.

The easiest way to procrastinate is to avoid work altogether. Instead, opt to work on little tasks — you know, those small tasks you tell yourself you’ll get around to, but almost never do.

Procrastinators often have the hardest time prioritizing, because the tasks they put off seem less important. But by prioritizing your work, you can eliminate distractions and focus on the tasks at hand.

To make a priority list, create a list of tasks you’re avoiding, and list them in order of priority. Then, create a separate list of tasks that aren’t quite so pressing, but you’d still like to get done. Now, instead of avoiding work, just pick a task from the “not urgent” list and get to work.

4. Break down big tasks into manageable small steps.

When a task seems overwhelming, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. But if you break down a large task into smaller, more manageable tasks, you can overcome procrastination. And breaks are easier to take when they aren’t huge tasks.

When you find a project that’s too big to tackle, break it into smaller tasks. Start by thinking of what can be finished this week, then go from there

5. Set realistic goals.

A deadline doesn’t imply that you have to complete the task that day. In fact, setting unrealistic deadlines can cause more problems than it solves. Set aside some time for procrastination, and then get to work!

Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it’s important not to set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals.

For example, you might set the goal of writing 5,000 words per day. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll achieve this every day, so working too hard and overextending yourself won’t help.

6. Set a schedule with specific tasks.

Procrastinators often have trouble knowing what they need to do, so setting a schedule can help them stay on track. By knowing when tasks need to be completed, procrastinators can avoid taking on too much work at once.

Specific tasks help your brain to focus on the task at hand.

For example, instead of setting “write a chapter every week,” set “write a chapter on Monday.”
This makes it easier to assess progress

7. Set deadlines.

Everyone knows the procrastination monster loves to have a free ride. Having a deadline keeps you focused on the task at hand and helps prevent procrastination. Deadlines make your task feel urgent and put you under pressure to get things done.

8. Avoid distractions.

Sometimes, it’s best to just say no to distractions, especially if you’re working against a deadline. Turn your cellphone off, close your email inbox, and hunker down so you can finish the task at hand.

9. Focus on one task at time.

Sometimes we get so caught up in what we’re procrastinating that we forget what we’re supposed to be doing. If you find yourself in this situation, focus on the task at hand. This will help you avoid distractions.

10. Manage your time.

Many people say they don’t have the time to do the things they need to do. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. There are simple things you can do to manage your time more effectively.

For example, you can start your day early, plan your day ahead and apply the 80/20 rule.

11. Set a timer.

If you need to get something done quickly and don’t have the luxury of doing it in one shot, try setting a timer.

The “just get it done” mentality is one of the best ways to improve your productivity.

Here’s how it works: Set a timer for 15 minutes, and tell yourself that if you don’t want to keep working, you’ll stop after 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, if you need to go do something else, by all means, do that. But if you’re still going strong, give yourself 30 more minutes.

12. Leverage technology and use effective time management techniques

There are a number of other effective time management techniques you can use, such as

13. Get help and someone else involved or outsource your work.

If you have a boss, colleague or significant other who can help motivate you. Or if you are into some online business, it’s better to hire a freelancer and let them help you to save your time. Sometimes, having someone to help you finish a task can be the key to improve your productivity.

14. Get some rest or take regular breaks

Getting enough sleep can help you stay energized and focused.

15. Reward yourself for your accomplishments.

Rewarding your accomplishments is a great way to combat procrastination and bounce back quickly with motivation. Give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve accomplished something. Rewards can be small, but every reward helps.

A reward doesn’t have to be time-consuming. By rewarding yourself for completing tasks, you can encourage yourself to keep working. If you’re having a hard time getting started,

For example, after every big task, treat yourself to a favorite food or activity.

Strategies for overcoming procrastination

1. Look for warning signs.

 Are you dreading the task? Or are you just procrastinating because you don’t want to do it? Decide why you’re procrastinating. Do you just want to avoid the work? Or do you truly have a lack of motivation? Realizing your warning signs can help you where your weaknesses lie in and then act upon them immediately to overcome procrastination.

2. Recognize that procrastination is a symptom of a deeper problem.

A lack of motivation is a common reason people procrastinate, but it’s not the only cause. A poor work/life balance, a chaotic schedule, or a lack of structure can also contribute to procrastination.

3. Identify your distraction triggers.

What’s your number-one procrastination trigger? Is it email? Or social media? Some people say they can’t focus until they have a snack, while others need a cup of coffee to get going. Once you identify your triggers, you’ll be able to avoid them.

4. Identify the benefits of tackling the task now.

Are you avoiding a task because you’re afraid of failure? Or because you think you’ll get distracted by Facebook? Once you identify why you’re procrastinating, it’ll be easier to tackle.

5. Get organized.

Instead of pushing things to the dead end. Plan all your following week’s work tasks at the end of weekends. Write down every task with detailed notes. So, that you can be aware of what things to be done at what time.

This way if you organize your daily or weekly or monthly schedule. It will keep you motivated to get things done in a much more efficient way.

Ways to stop procrastinating

1. Focus on the positive.

Positive thinking is a great antidote to procrastination, and there are plenty of books, videos, and exercises that will teach you how to do this.

Have something to look forward to. Some tasks can seem very daunting, and the motivation needed to complete them can wane. But if you look forward to an outcome instead of focusing on the process, you’re more likely to get scared and probably quit your goals.

2. Stay motivated.

There are plenty of books, videos, and exercises that will help you to get motivated.

The best way to stay motivated is by reminding yourself why you started in the first place and how you are going to make your life better.

 If you’re struggling with a particular task, remember that the payoff will be great. Think of what you’ll get to do once you’re done, and enjoy the feeling of being productive.

For example, if you promised yourself that you will buy a new house next year, you’d probably be inspired to start working hard.

3. Work fast.

A small task shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, so if you’re having trouble getting started, break the task into smaller parts.

4. Reward yourself. 

By celebrating small victories, you encourage yourself to keep going. You can reward yourself quite liberally; just be sure to do something nice for yourself.

5. Accept that some things should be left for later.

Sometimes, you just have to let something go. Don’t worry too much about it, and focus on the task at hand.

6. Find the right time for your creativity to flow.

Everyone’s brain doesn’t work the same. Just take time to reflect and be in touch with your intuition. Analyze at what time of the day you feel your creativity flows, and at what time you feel so motivated. Take notes and make it a habit to work with high concentration for those 2-3 hours of the day.

Tips on how to stop procrastinating

You want to over procrastination? Here are some great motivational tips on how to stop procrastinating.

So, here’s what to do.

1. Begin today.

2. Identify what’s stopping you.

3. Start tackling the obstacles.

4. Resist the urge to procrastinate.

5. Realize procrastination is temporary.

6. Don’t let it ruin your day.

7. Understand it will pass.

8. Be proud of yourself.

9. Don’t give up.

10. Be persistent and consistent.

11. Stay focused.

12. Don’t wait and take action.

13. Don’t overthink.

14. Aim for progress not perfection.

15. Keep your eye on the prize.

16. Do something you love the most.

17. Break the cycle of bad habits.

Effects of procrastination

The effects of procrastination are well documented.

Procrastination is sometimes referred to as the “antidote to motivation.” And studies show that procrastination can have serious effects on both productivity and academic performance.

So, what are the effects of procrastination? Here is the list:

1. Procrastination can lead to alienation, unhappiness and eventual failure.

According to research, those who procrastinate usually have lower self-esteem, are less likely to be assertive, and have poorer social skills. People who suffer from procrastination tendencies are usually less satisfied with their lives.

2. Procrastination can lead to poor work quality.

Studies show that many people regularly spend hours of their workweek procrastinating, this means that they end up making less progress than their potential, and in many instances, people rush to complete tasks right before deadlines, which eventually lead to the poor work quality.

3. Procrastination can lead to poor academic performance.

In a study, those who procrastinated were nearly twice as likely to fail a class than those who completed their assignments on time. 

As per new evidence, for many students, academic procrastination is associated with dysfunctional learning outcomes such as low academic performance, low quality of academic work, lack of knowledge, time pressure, dropout, and lengthened course of study.

4. Procrastination can affect your career.

As per research, high levels of procrastination is associated with reduced salaries, shorter durations of employment, and more chances of being unemployed or under-employed rather than working full-time.

5. Procrastination can lead to health problems.

 Recent evidence suggests that procrastination can seriously harm your health as well as hurt your work. A number of stress-related health problems have been associated with chronic procrastination, such as headaches, digestive problems, colds and flus, and insomnia.

6. Procrastination can lead to relationship problems.

 The effect is that if you are a procrastination then your partner may feel “unimportant, uncared for and ignored. As a result, a lack of trust, resentment, and a downward spiral begin to develop.

If your significant other is bothered by your procrastination, they may become resentful or could decide to break up with you.

7. Procrastination can lead to missed opportunities.

Procrastination can often lead you to missed opportunities. When an opportunity presents itself, and you wait until the last minute to the appropriate action, you risk losing that opportunity to another business. 

Waiting until the last second forces you to make bad decisions that could cost your job or company.

8. Procrastination can lead to financial problems.

Procrastination can also lead to postponing paying bills. This includes utility bills and EMIs. If you are a procrastinator and if you pay all your bills, not in time, that will lead to you paying late fees and interest charges. 

Missing your bill due dates will not only mean late fees and interest payments, but late payments will also affect your credit score, and that results in a lot of financial problems.

Related Article: A complete guide to be motivated and find yourself motivation every day.

How to stop procrastinating: A step-by-step guide to improve your productivity.

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