A Practical Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating

George J. Ziogas

Solutions to help you stop procrastinating and complete tasks

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Are you a serial procrastinator? If so, you don’t just delay tasks because you’ve more important jobs to tackle. You avoid them when you could make headway. Your behavior might be so ingrained you don’t recognize it’s unnecessary and damages your well-being. Here’s why you procrastinate and how to complete jobs.

Emotional immobility

Other people might imagine you’re lazy or inept if you don’t start or finish tasks. They’re unlikely to realize you may have anxiety and guilt when you put off projects.

Often, you might be aware jobs need your attention and get a sinking feeling in your gut as you delay progress. At such times, you dread dealing with chores. You find yourself in a stuck state. You know there’s a need to act but experience an inability to do so.

High impulsivity and low self-discipline

Procrastinators are often impulsive. They have plenty of good ideas and are enthusiastic initially. Later, though, a lack of self-discipline stops them from beginning or completing tasks. They flit from fresh idea to fresh idea, each time to carry projects through to their conclusion, but new ventures capture their attention.

Fear of failure

You may fear carrying out tasks if you’re a perfectionist. If, for instance, you want to achieve a goal but never get around to it, worrying you’ll not succeed could be the problem. Non-perfectionists aren’t as afraid to fail and are less likely to procrastinate when they work toward their dreams.

Poor time management

Poor time managers don’t think ahead. They consider how to relieve stress in the present but don’t imagine the impact of procrastination on their future well-being. They might not prioritize jobs either.

How to begin and finish jobs

The “Ready, Steady, Go” method might work if negative emotions accompany procrastination. Full-blown depression is easy to spot, but many people suffer from a mild version that goes undiagnosed. When you have mild depression, you lack enthusiasm and willpower and feel tired. You might also delay tasks as you worry about how to perform them.

Procrastination takes effort and forethought, and there’s a window of opportunity in the few moments before it develops. If you act fast — using the mantra ready, steady, go — and begin a job, you’ll gain momentum. The idea is not to think about tasks before you start them since it leads to procrastination.

Set a deadline

Many tasks don’t come with deadlines, yet not carrying them out reduces your well-being. If you don’t clean the fridge, for example, bacteria will contaminate your food.

When you know you need to do a task, set a deadline. Tell yourself you must complete the job by the weekend or within a week, and mark the date on your calendar.

Create small goalposts

Break tasks into small parts when they overwhelm you. Set little goals and decide when to complete them. Stress will lift each time you reach a goalpost and the task shrinks.

Think of beneficial outcomes

Consider the benefits completing tasks brings rather than thinking about how difficult or time-consuming they are to carry out. It will give you the zest required to see them through to the end.

Feedback

You can hire a life coach to help you get organized or see a counselor who will point out adverse outcomes of avoiding jobs. If you don’t want professional help, though, ask a friend to remind you why you must act rather than procrastinate. Alternatively, place “do it now” posters in your home or office to spark action.

Studies show procrastination often results in reduced well-being, so note the solutions mentioned. Be kind to yourself and seek help if you’re depressed. Look after your mental and physical wellness. Create a lifestyle plan that includes healthy eating and adequate sleep. Also, reduce stress with mindful activities like meditation, yoga, and nature walks.

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