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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

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Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

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Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

For more tips on how to eliminate your procrastination pit-stops, join the free Fast-Track Class – No More Procrastination. It’s a focused 30-minute session in which you will understand more about your procrastination behavior and get over it once and for all. Join it now.

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5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

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8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

More by this author

Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021

8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

The negative effects of procrastination can range from simply missing a deadline on an important task to something more long-term, such as a missed opportunity that kills a dream. Some of us might be lucky enough to identify our tendency to procrastinate in time and still do something about it.

For others, it can have long-lasting effects that resonate throughout their lives.

The reason we procrastinate varies from person to person and is not always obvious. Sometimes, it is a hidden fear that we don’t want to acknowledge, or it could even be as simple as not wanting to do something because it just doesn’t motivate us.

Whatever the reason may be, if you know you are a procrastinator, you should be careful, as it has far more damaging effects than you may realize. You can find out if you’re a chronic procrastinator with this free assessment: Are You a Chronic Procrastinator?

Here are the 8 most common effects of procrastination that can destroy not only your productivity, but your life.

1. Losing Precious Time

How much time have you wasted procrastinating?

The worst thing about procrastinating is the moment you realize that you are two, five, or ten years older and nothing has changed.

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This is a terrible feeling because you can’t turn back the hands of time; you just have to live with the helpless feeling of regret. There is nothing worse than feeling frustrated at yourself, knowing the situation could have been so different if only you had taken that first step.

2. Blowing Opportunities

How many opportunities have you wasted because you didn’t take advantage of them when they were there? This is when the effects of procrastination make you really want to kick yourself.

What you don’t realize is that the opportunity could have been life changing, but you missed out on it. Most opportunities only come around once; you are never guaranteed a second chance.

Opportunities are the world’s way of giving you more, so do yourself a favor and grab them with both hands as soon as they present themselves.

3. Not Meeting Goals

Procrastination seems to come on with full force when we entertain the thought of goals, of wanting to achieve or change something. You might have a strong desire to change, but you just can’t seem to take the first step forward.

This is normally confusing and perplexing; you might find yourself thinking, “Why is it so hard to go for something that I want so badly?” Only you can answer that; you’ll have to explore a little deeper into the resistance.

We set goals because we have a deep desire to better our lives in some way. If you don’t do this because of procrastination, you reduce the possibility to better your life.

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Uncover the root cause behind your procrastination if it’s preventing you from achieving your goals, or you may never attain them.

And if you need a bit of help in reaching your goal, The Dreamers’ Guide To Taking Actions And Reaching Your Goals is what you need. It’s a free guide that will help you tackle your procrastination behavior and craft an actionable plan to start to reach your goal. Grab your free guide here.

4. Ruining a Career

The way you work directly affects your results, how much you achieve, and how well you perform, so the effects of procrastination can end up being detrimental to your career.

Procrastination may prevent you from meeting deadlines or achieving your monthly targets. What consequence will this eventually have on your career?

You might miss out on promotions or even be at risk of losing your job. You can try to hide it for a while, but don’t doubt that long-term procrastination at work will almost certainly ruin your career.

5. Lower Self-Esteem

This is one of the vicious circles you might find yourself in. We tend to procrastinate because low self-esteem makes us feel that we won’t be able to get a task or project done the right way. Unfortunately, procrastinating only increases feelings of low self-esteem, making us doubt ourselves even more.

One study involving 426 college students found that “academic procrastination was negatively predicted by self-esteem, and self-control”[1].

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When we have low self-esteem, we hold ourselves back, feel unworthy of success, and begin to self-sabotage. Procrastination eats away your confidence, slowly but surely.

If this resonates with you, focus on building your self-esteem instead of holding on to the illusion that you should be able to do something, as this makes you force yourself into something when you are not ready.

6. Making Poor Decisions

Poor decision making is one of the worst effects of procrastination. When you procrastinate, you make decisions based on criteria that most likely wouldn’t be there if you didn’t procrastinate, like pressure to finally make a decision because time is running out.

Emotions heavily influence the decisions we make, and procrastination increases negative emotions, which can push us into making decisions that don’t serve us in the long run.

Instead of rushing through decisions while procrastinating, write out all the possibilities and find a calm moment to analyze the pros and cons of each.

7. Damage to Your Reputation

When you keep saying you will do something and you don’t, your reputation gets tarnished, as nobody wants empty promises. Besides damaging your own reputation, you are damaging your self-esteem and self-confidence. You will find that it gets easier to procrastinate each time because you are not surprising yourself anymore.

People could stop depending on you and hold back on offering you opportunities because they could be worried that you will simply procrastinate, leaving them to clean up the mess.

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Even if you already have a reputation of being a procrastinator, you can turn it around. Next time someone asks you for something, use all of the tools at your disposal to get it done on time. Each time you fulfill a request, your reputation will begin to build back up, which will lead to more opportunities and better relationships with those around you.

8. Risking Your Health

Among the effects of procrastination are mental health problems like stress and anxiety, and these in turn are linked to health issues. If your procrastination leads to feelings of depression, this will start to affect other areas of your life.

If you procrastinate too much with something, it will most likely start to stress you out and cause anxiety, especially when other people or things are involved, and all of this can lead to poor health outcomes.

Another way that procrastination can affect your health in the short term is when you continually put off check-ups and postpone appointments or things you need to do, such as exercise. The problem only gets worse and the consequences more dire.

Final Thoughts

The effects of procrastination may not seem all that bad at first, but over time, those effects can build, leading to stress, anxiety, broken dreams, and low self-esteem. Instead of letting procrastination take hold, take the time to develop time management techniques to help you deal with it when it appears.

In a study on procrastination interventions, researchers discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy significantly reduced procrastination and, furthermore, “reduced procrastination more strongly than the other types of interventions”[2]. If you find yourself continuing to struggle with procrastination, cognitive behavioral therapy may be a great option to try.

You can also check out this video to get started on changing your mindset around procrastination:

More on Overcoming the Effects of Procrastination

Featured photo credit: NordWood Themes via unsplash.com

Reference

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