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Tips on overcoming procrastination

Updated on September 12, 2010

There is a story about a lizard. Every morning he gets up with a plan of making house so that he can sleep properly in the cold night. He hunts some insects and as the sun goes up, he sleeps in the warmth. He forgets his plan. When the cold evening approaches, he vows that he will definitely make a house tomorrow. And the cycle continues until one day he dies of hypothermia!

If you find any similarity between the lizard’s house and your dream or work, then be sure you are a victim of procrastination. You may be a student, a job holder and concomitantly if you happen to be a procrastinator, you know the consequences. Deadlines, mess of books or documents, headaches (sometime you may even want to bang your own head), poor performance in study or office… please don’t even think about good grades or promotion! If you have some dreams, though many people are not quite sure about their own dreams, all your dreams will succumb to procrastination.

The worst thing about being a procrastinator is that you never get good sleep; every night your head gets heavier as the deadlines approach, your frustration scales high and you feel like a defeated warrior or some loser. Though initially it may be fun, gradually you’ll find yourself entrapped in a positive feedback cycle of habit of procrastination, inaction, poor performance and frustration. 'I should have started sooner' really sounds harsh and discouraging. If you wait longer, it will get worse. So,awake, arise and break this cycle. Let’s dissect the problem first, and then we all discuss on how to tackle inaction.

Causes of Procrastination

1) Lack of motivation: something inside you is inhibiting you from doing your important task in hand. You like to go stray doing mundane things. You easily rationalize and come up with good excuses. This lack of motivation can be due to

  • Fear of failure: You are afraid that you’ll not get expected results. So you push your assignments or dreams further in the future.
  • Bad relationships: You have a partner who always harasses you.
  • Discouraging friend circle: Small people belittling your dreams
  • Lack of faith in yourself: You doubt your own ability.

2) Laziness: You like to kill time checking profiles or status in facebook. Before starting your work, you feel like having a short nap in the pretext of getting refreshed for the Herculean task. Admit you are being lazy…

3) Complacency: if you are a procrastinator, surely you must be the slave of your mind and you’re your mind doesn’t want to get out of the comfort zone. You want to avoid pain of working and disappointments of failure. Eventually you become something like a ship anchored at shore which never travelled the sea.

4) Waiting for the right time: This one is probably the most common cause. You want everything to get right before you take off. You make routine, you make many other preparations but you never get to the point. You keep on waiting.

5) Distractions: Television, movies, cell phone, internet, many other gadgets… you just can’t escape the temptation.

6) Lack of self awareness: This one is the father of all above causes. You daydream a lot. Regarding your assignments, you underestimate the time required to accomplish it and end up doing little job or poor job. You are simply not aware of what you do everyday. Sometime, you feel an urge to do the work but you soon forget it and get lost in your thoughts.

How to Overcome Procrastination

William James, a US philosopher, once said, “Nothing is as fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." You agree and so you want a solution to get rid of this crippling habit. First, you must come to terms with the fact that you have a real problem and of course, it ain’t a mission impossible.

Overcome procrastination tips: Remember the following points and then we'll proceed to plan of action.

  • Sit in silence and avoid any form of distractions. Then ask yourself repeatedly whether you want to do the job or not. Is it really important? Is it your true dream? If yes, persevere and if not, quit.
  • Don’t think too much about results. You just need to take care of your work and result will take care of itself.
  • If possible, develop non-attachment attitude to result. Though, it’s very difficult to do, it will increase your productivity and gives you a sense of freedom. You will start working like a master, not like a slave.
  • You have numbers of assignments to finish. The only thing you can do is to put the available time in best possible use. You don’t have any other options left.
  • Don’t rationalize your inaction. The only way you can have peace of mind and sound sleep is action. Work is the best sleeping-aid pills.
  • Don’t blame anybody. Be courageous enough to bear the responsibility for your inefficiency.
  • Always remember, ”The best way to get something done is to begin” and the best routine is “Don’t waste time.”

The procrastination-frustration cycle can be broken at only one point. That’s the point of inaction. So get into action.

Plan of action:

  • Do the worst job first: Choose the worst job that has become an ongoing source of anxiety, thus making you less productive. Commit to complete the task. It will boost your confidence and break the cycle of procrastination.
  • Break long-term tasks into smaller ones: You have a big plan but the end seems to be out of sight. What to do? Break the task into small sub tasks, make deadlines for the sub tasks and make a series of smaller commitments. You will achieve some small successes which will in turn motivate you to attempt the next sub task.
  • Attitude towards your job or dream: You can’t think big when your chest is in. Every morning, take a deep breath and with your chest high, think about your job or dream. They will look accomplishable.
  • Make a public commitment: Keep your schedule where many people can see it.
  • Habits don’t go off easily: Well, you had started well. Day first was good. But you again fall prey to procrastination. Don’t get discouraged. Smooth, regular motion is most often preceded by coarse, irregular one. Just get determined to finish your job. Dust off yourself and start again.
  • Plan your evening before: It is effective. It avoids potential distractions at the start of the day. So, you’ll finish first task in the morning which will give you the incentive to continue in the same way throughout the day.
  • Self observation: Allocate time for self observation. You just sit in silence and think about the day. It will remind you of your tasks and thus will prevent you from losing the track. Learning meditation can be rewarding.
  • Begin now: No excuses. Just start your work now. NOW is the right time to start your job or follow your dream!


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