How To Stop Procrastinating

In 2014, cat videos garnered nearly 26 billion views on YouTube. The following year a survey published in journal Computers in Human Behavior found that procrastination was a leading cause of this trend. 

Does this sound a bit like you? You may not necessarily be watching videos of cute cats the night before your exam, but if you’re a master procrastinator, you probably have your techniques. If that’s the case, don’t fret! According to researcher and speaker Piers Steel, 95% of us procrastinate to some degree. Hopefully it’s comforting to hear you’re not alone, but you’re probably wondering: what can I do about it? 

In this article, we’ll share some tips on how you can understand and overcome your procrastination. We’ll also mention some practical anti-procrastination techniques you’ll definitely want to hear, so make sure you stick until the end!

Here are some tips on how to stop procrastinating.

1. The reason

Finding the reason why you procrastinate helps you understand yourself better and allows you to start building better, productive habits. With that in mind, you should know that not every procrastination is the same.

Sometimes, we’re just soooo bored with whatever we need to do. Everything else seems more interesting than studying for that test, writing that report, or washing those dishes. Could boredom be the cause of your procrastination?

Other times, we’re overwhelmed with too many things all at once. The thought of 50 tasks on our to-do-list makes us anxious, so we don’t even want to start. Do you think you have too many things on your plate?

And for some people, procrastination is more than a bad habit, but a sign of an underlying mental issue. Research suggests that procrastination can be a cause of serious stress and illness, and it’s also associated with ADHD, OCD, anxiety or depression. If you feel like you procrastinate so much that it’s starting to cause you serious issues, it would be a good idea to seek the advice of a trained professional.

2. Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to perform the actions needed to achieve your goals. It’s an important step in your fight against procrastination because it plays a role in motivating you. Do you feel like you have the ability to successfully achieve the tasks that you need to do? If you believe you’re capable, you’re much more likely to reach your goal.

You can use several techniques to increase self-efficacy. First, reflect on your success – try to remember the times you did something very well. Were you proud of yourself at that time? Next, identify the strategies you could use to get things done. What is something that usually works for you when you’re working on projects? How can you implement that to your future responsibilities? And finally, address your fears. Are you afraid of failure? What does failing mean to you? If it makes you anxious, how can you cope with that anxiety?

3. Forgiveness

Have you ever experienced a negative outcome of your procrastination? For example, you just couldn’t get yourself to study, and ended up getting a bad grade? Situations like these happen quite often, and when they occur we may tend to beat ourselves up. “Why was I so lazy? If only I forced myself to do it! Ughhh”!

But if you really want to change, you should leave negative talk behind. Instead, forgive yourself for procrastinating! This may sound a bit cheesy, but it’s actually backed by science.

A 2010 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences showed that students who reported high levels of self-forgiveness for procrastinating felt better about themselves, which made them reduce procrastination next time they had an exam.

4. Anti-procrastination techniques

While you work on the root of a problem, here are some tips and tricks to get you started on your next project.

  • Break your work into smaller steps. This way, instead of one huge project, you’ll have a few smaller ones. As a result you will feel less overwhelmed, and it will feel easier to start.
  • Keep a To-Do List. This will prevent you from “conveniently” forgetting about those unpleasant or overwhelming tasks. Also, you’ll be able to visually represent what you need to do, and what is already done.
  • Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Identify the time of day when you’re most effective, and do the most difficult tasks at these times.
  • Use task- and time-management apps. If you take a look at your smartphone’s app store, you’ll find a bunch of different apps designed to help with your time and task management. You can use some of these apps to stay organized and get reminders if you get a bit stuck.
  • Take breaks. Nobody can stay productive hours on end! While you work on a project, remember to get up, stretch, take a sip of water or eat a snack. Your body and mind will thank you, and you’ll feel ready to continue and get the thing done.
  • Visualize your success. What are some benefits you’d gain if you start your project now? Would it be a good grade or a raise? Whatever it is, try to visualize it. Imagine yourself already achieving that goal, and remind yourself that that’s what you’re working for.

Closing thoughts

Even if it gets hard, you have a great chance at overcoming your procrastination. All it takes is the willingness to follow the necessary steps and putting the effort to follow your plans. We believe you can make it!

What is something you procrastinate doing the most? Let us know in the comments!

Until next time!

References:

Chua, C. (2022, February 18). How to Stop Procrastinating: 14 Practical Ways for Procrastinators. Lifehack. https://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/11-practical-ways-to-stop-procrastination.html

Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.). How Can I Stop Procrastinating?: Overcoming the Habit of Delaying Important Tasks. Mind Tools. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_96.htm

Myrick, J. G. (2015). Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches Internet cats, why, and to what effect? Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 168–176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.06.001

Schimelpfening, N. (2020, November 30). How to Stop Procrastinating. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/stop-procrastination-now-1065417

Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 65–94. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.65

Wohl, M. J., Pychyl, T. A., & Bennett, S. H. (2010). I forgive myself, now I can study: How self-forgiveness for procrastinating can reduce future procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(7), 803–808. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.029

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