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Advice on How to Overcome Procrastination

Updated on October 3, 2012
It is a lot easier to find things when they aren't in piles. So put them away already!
It is a lot easier to find things when they aren't in piles. So put them away already! | Source

Why do you procrastinate?

You know what needs to be done. You have a “to do” list. You know how to do the things on it. So why aren’t they getting done? Why are bills getting paid at the last minute? Why is the laundry piling up? Is that your yard or a jungle? I swear I saw a tiger hiding in those untrimmed hedges, though it was a bit tough to see through the waste high grass.

I think you get my point. Things aren’t getting done. Why? You are procrastinating. Why? Because you don’t want to do them, so you don’t. Because you would rather do something else, and you do. So you end up with five loads of laundry to fold instead of one. You end up rushing to meet a deadline instead of taking your time and putting in your best work.

Now that you have identified the problem, what are you going to do about it? There are a few strategies that I have picked up that, when I put them into practice, really work for me. Now I am going to share them with you.

Stop worrying about the path you should take and just mow the lawn already!
Stop worrying about the path you should take and just mow the lawn already! | Source

Just Do It!

The folks at Nike really got this one right. Just do it. Simple as that. Things aren’t going to do themselves. Of course, if it were that easy everything would be done.

This is a tip I got from my therapist and there are many cases when it does the trick. If there is something you don’t want to do, just commit to doing it for ten minutes. After ten minutes if it is really still that horrible, you can stop and do something else. You would be surprised how much your attitude changes about a task after you have been doing it for ten minutes. Sometimes all you need is to get over that hump. If your writer's block is real, or you are actually too tired, at least you tried. Now move on to something else. Just for ten minutes!

There is a bed under there, I swear! It would be alot more inviting if it wasn't covered in who knows what.
There is a bed under there, I swear! It would be alot more inviting if it wasn't covered in who knows what. | Source

Shift Your Focus

If you are still having trouble finding motivation to start that ten minute task, try this. Stop thinking about how much you don’t want to whatever it is that needs doing. Maybe it’s difficult. Maybe it’s boring. Well that’s life. Not everything is going to be a blast or a walk in the park. That doesn’t change the fact that it still needs to get done. Shifting your focus can help you find the motivation to start that task that you are dreading.

Make the task less unpleasant by focusing on something you like. Listen to music while you clean the house or mow the lawn. Watch a TV program while you fold clothes. Enjoy a cup of tea while you pay the bills. Anything you can do to enjoy the experience will help you complete it. Think about how much you will enjoy that tea, not how much you will hate paying those bills.

Worry less about starting and more about finishing. Shift your focus away from the dread of starting the task, or the unpleasantness of doing it. Instead think about how good it will feel to finish it and finally cross it off your list. Think of the sense of pride and accomplishment you will feel, no matter how small. In a practical sense, think of how much better you will feel walking into a clean room, or knowing the bills are paid on time. Think about how much easier life is when you don’t have to rummage through piles of laundry to find a matching pair of socks! If you have decided to reward yourself when you finish the task, think about the reward.

Think about the simple sense of relief. About one less thing to worry about. Odds are you are spending a lot more energy worrying about doing the things you are putting off than you spend actually doing it. So just do it already. You will feel better. That is a reward in itself. Once you have shifted your focus away from the negative thoughts of starting and doing the task, and onto finishing and rewarding, it will be a lot easier to do what needs to be done.

Is grass supposed to be that high?
Is grass supposed to be that high? | Source
Much Better!
Much Better! | Source

Expect to Fail

Don’t consider the possibility of failure, accept it as truth. You are not going to always finish everything you start in the time frame you want to. It is okay. Do not use the possibility that you aren’t going to finish as a reason to not start. Doing some of it and finishing later is a lot better than just pushing the whole thing off. You might never get that block of four hours that you want. That is no reason to not do it at all. Find a way to break the project up into smaller parts. Ten minutes perhaps?

There are certainly things that must be done according to a specific deadline. Make sure you start them soon enough to give you enough time. You know deep down when this is. Use the tools above to make sure you do them.

Keep it up!

Once you succeed in doing something without putting it off for goodness knows how long, pay attention to that feeling. It’s good, right? Every time you complete something, take a minute to really look at what you did. Hold on to that feeling. Use it to your advantage. The next time you have to do something you don’t want to, bring up that feeling. Don’t you want to feel that way again? To keep feeling that way all the time? Okay then. Take that thing you need to do and just do it!

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    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      Ahaha I had to laugh because I am the Queen of Procrastination...especially when it comes to sorting through piles of mess that the kids tend to leave in EVERY corner of my house. I think the tip that will help me best is to change my focus. Instead of dreading the start I will look forward to the finish :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Ardie- I am a chronic procrastinator myself. And that is why I wrote this. When I follow my own advice, it really works! I figure if it can work for me it can work for alot of other people. Now if only i could stick to it! Good luck :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      How is it that you are Ardie are my friends? You two slackers!!! LOL...I'm kidding. It's so easy to fall into that trap and then it becomes comfortable. Dana, you are bright and talented and funny so get 'er done!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Bill - Ardie and I are just proof that girls that procrastinate are awesome! Why else would you befriend us. :)

      Good thing for me I have you around to give me a good kick in the pants! Wouldn't want all of this awesomeness to go to waste. Thanks for the boost.

    • Byron Wolf profile image

      Byron Wolf 5 years ago

      Thanks DanaTeresa. I really needed this today!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      DanaTeresa, this hub is full of great advice, as we all struggle with this one for sure! This was fun to read and very insightful, and your photos look familiar. Ha. Just do it, is the best advice.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Dana..if Ardie is the queen, then I am the king of procrastination. Why, I could hardly motivate myself to look up the word and see what it meant!

      'Course, I'm a bloke living alone at present and we don't do dishes, washing, vacuuming, etc.

      Which is why I'm desperately casting around for a servant, er, wife: know anyone?

      Good hub that had many squirming I bet.

      Bob

    • wordsmith2418 profile image

      Veronica Lewis 5 years ago from Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

      Very nice motivational piece!! I'm not really a procrastinator and I see that a lot of what you advise is exactly what I do. I am however married to a procrastinator. I'm always telling him, stop thinking about how miserable or hard the task is and "Just Do It," which is my motto. That and "If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you'll get there." My son was laughing at me because I got out of the car, dressed in my business outfit, and just had to pull some weeds before going in the house. LOL!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Byron - you are very welcome. we all need a good boost now and then. good luck with all you are doing.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Faith - yes.I think even those that don't admint it put things off now and then too. I would post "after" photos of my rooms, but they are still messy! Hey, at least I mowed the lawn! :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Bob - Welcome to the procrastination club! Hmmm? Looking for someone aroung the house? Don't let my photos fool you, I am incredible domestic. Though I don't think you could afford me! :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      wordsmith2418 - Good luck with your husband! Even knowing all this great advice, I still struggle sometimes. Try getting him to notice how much happier he, and everyone else, is when he just gets things done. It worked pretty well with my boyfirend, and with me when I manage to stick to it. Thanks for reading!

    • slackermom profile image

      Lisa Palmer 5 years ago from Attapulgus GA

      I can totally relate to this. I have a tendency to procrastinate and I could sure use some of these tips. Usually the "just do it" attitude is how I eventually get around to those pesky chores. Great hub Voted up

    • Lupusmyjourney profile image

      Lupusmyjourney 5 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks DanaTeresa those were some great points... even though I really don't suffer from procrastination, your points seems to be valid for just plain old every day living. It seems that you have a great grasp of who you are and are working on those things YOU want to improve and that takes alot of courage. It takes alot of courage to look in the mirror and say I need to work on this or that and actually take those steps. I applaud you.

    • TotalHealth profile image

      TotalHealth 5 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

      Nice hub. The section on "Just Do It" is very true. Once I get started doing whatever it is that I was trying to avoid the task becomes much easier to accept.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Lupusismyjourney - You are right. This advice did stem form my own journey of self discovery and personal growth. I figure if these stragtegies are helping me, then maybe they can help some other people too. Thanks you for your kind words. I am sure you know it is not an easy journey, but it is worth every step. Strong inspirational people like you have kept me moving in the right direction. Take care!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      TotalHealth - Just Do It seems to be the most popular strategy. Its funny how most of the negativity disappears one you start. And for those of us who still have trouble with those three little words, shifitng focus can give a nice nudge... Thanks for reading. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Expect to fail is a great insight on this hub. I think this is why some people just totally abandon a project. Consistancy is also key, as you wrote, because it must beome a habit to us. Great topic and voted up.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      teaches12345 - i think too many people let thougths of failure or not being perfect hold them back. its a shame.

      thanks for the vote up!!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Procrastination. There's a lot of it always going around. Very difficult to shake; worse than a never ending case of the flu. Well done.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Cyndi10 - I totally relate to your comment. My tips work great for me when I follow them. I repeat, when I follow them! All in all I don't do too bad of a job. I hope this has helped at least one person... Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

      A-a-h, Dana, guess what I procrastinate on doing? What about writing some hubs? All those ideas floating in the attic need to be caught and tied in ribbons and presented as nice reading material. 'Just do it'!

      Yes, I'd better get to it and maybe my score will improve and I might make some money in the process.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Hi mizjo! - Always nice to see you! You are a funny lady! Your hub score is fine silly. I just checked. Get to that writing! I would love to read it. Try something short and simple that you enjoy. You will be glad you did! It will give you a boost. And be sure to share it so i can read it right away!

      (As far as making money, well, I am still only at about 10 cents a day. So there's definitley more to it than volume.)

      TAKE CARE!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Dana, this is great! You didn't stop at "just do it," but your advice to make yourself for ten minutes is key. Just doing that might get us into the mode. It's like my timer with housework (thanks for the link!). It helps me jumpstart and get the housework going. I may try the timer for ten minutes for jobs I don't want to do, giving my permission to stop after ten minutes. Great ideas here. Thanks! Going to link yours with mine now.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Vicki - thanks for stopping by to give this a read. that tem minute trick has been a life saver for me. sometimes after ten minutes i have forgotten all about not wanting to start. or if it "just isn't happening" i stop AND i fell so much better that i at lesat tried! i can't wait to pair this up with your timer idea!

      Thanks for the link. there's nothing quite like teamwork!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Like the idea of multi tasking, Dana! Folding clothes while watching TV is what I always do. Helps when we're busy but want to catch up with the things we love! Thanks for writing, am sharing this!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      midget38 - you have just mentioned my favorite multitask! Also dusting and organizing while watching TV. I am taking my own advice this week regarding a few things. It is about time i Just Do Them!... thanks for sharing this!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I have never procrastinated; honest to goodness. I drive myself crazy keeping up with things. I get a terrible headache if I get behind on chores. Sorry, I can't join the club of procrastinators!

      Good Hub. I voted it UP, etc.etc.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      mary - great that you don't prcrastinate! bummer you drive yourself crazy! to each their own i guess. I hate to see a mess. that is one thing that keeps me from getting too far behind on chores. lately i have more of a lack of time issue than a lack of motivation. as soon as i tackle that, prehaps another hub!

      thanku fo rthe votes. you are a doll. :)

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

      I will get started on this the first thing tomorrow.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      WD Curry 111 - LOL! I really need to learn how to take my own advice! I think I will read this later as well. :) For now I am late for work!... thanks for stopping by!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I find that what works the best for me is - I can 'play' for 15 minutes and then I have to do a 'chore' for 15 minutes. It really helps when I'm writing a hub, which I consider 'play' time. I know I have to get the dishes done and that takes me about 15 minutes. So, I switch back and forth between play and chore all day. It also helps me from sitting on my butt all day, so I get exercise out of it as well. Once all my chores are done, then it's all play. :)

      Great information and tips, Dana! Voted up, more and sharing.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      TT - Nice to see u here...Thanks for the votes and share! I figured I would write this hub cuz if there is something that works for me, queen of procrastination, then it is bound to help someone else.... I like your work/play idea. I am sort of doing that today and it's all good so far. Though i don't know that I will ever hit that "all play" ending. I can try though! :)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      My "all play" usually ends up being around 10pm when I should be in bed. LOL but SOME people keep me up past my bedtime being silly and cheeky. :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      TT - well shame on them. you need your rest. and so do they! see u around the hubs. :)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      Um, did you come to my house and see all the things that need to be done? How did you know?! LOL These are great tips, and you are right, it is a matter of shifting your perspective and just getting it done. Your lawn looks very nice - and it is bigger than mine, so I really don't have any reason to put it off.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Millionaire Tips - lol! guess we have some things in common then. thankfully for me i enjoy the lawn mowing. now dusting and organizing mail and other papers. thats not so fun. the term "dust bunny" sound cute, Not si cure when they are rolling around the bookshelves!... thanks for reading, hope you find some helpful tips.

    • Christine Miranda profile image

      Christine Miranda 4 years ago from My office.

      Good Tips Dana. When I am feeling overwhelmed or things are falling behind I will write a list of what needs to be done and then put it on the fridge. I then tell the kids that they need to give me an hour in order to have the rest of the day for themselves. Since I'm not telling them what to do and they are "picking" the chore they want to do they get it done much quicker without the usual complaining. This works especially well if we are having company or just need to tackle the weekly cleaning.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Christine Miranda - You just described exactly what I do at work. I work best when I have a list of projects to do and I can work on them as I see fit. That way I can tailor my day to how I feel and never lose sight of what needs to be done. Now that I am temporariy unemployed, I think I am going to try this strategy at home. Thanks for the idea.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I was a bad procrastinator growing up but when I got older and realized nobody would be around to do my work for me- I wised up. Sometimes it's hard but like you said- when you do it and get it over with- it won't hang over your head. These are some great tips!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Alecia - I had the same issue as you. No one to each it to me until I got older. I still struggle with taking my own advice, but boy do things go better when I do! Thanks for stopping by and commening. :)

    • nmdonders profile image

      nmdonders 4 years ago

      Aside from myself, I know A LOT of people that could benefit from this advice. Thanks for sharing this.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      nmdonders - Thanks for reading. I am a horrible procrastinator, so when I found things that work for me I had to share them. The trick is sticking with it! :)

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA

      Procrastination, my downfall! I just keep telling myself (and everyone else) that I do my best work under pressure. Read that as, "I don't do it until the very last possible minute!"

      Good tips Dana!

      Voted up and Tweeted.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 3 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Stephanie!!! Returning to HP is one of the things that I have been procrastinating about. I am finally back. Now to get back to writing!.... thanks for the comment AND for the tweet :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Handy hub Dana!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 3 years ago

      Awesome. I agree with you on the 10 minute exercise. I've noticed that whenever I've been unmotivated to do something and finally do it, it doesn't feel as bad anymore. I think it's a psychological thing. I think is all about training your mind and ignoring that little voice in our heads.

      voted up useful.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 3 years ago from Finland

      Interesting hub! Sometimes I'm just too tired to fold clothes or cook dinner for an hour when you just get home from work, but that's ok if it doesn't happen every day. I try to do something every day to avoid things piling up.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 3 years ago from Ohio

      Thank u Audrey :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 3 years ago from Ohio

      lovedoctor926 - yes. that 10 minute trick is a good one.It really does help when your lack of motivation is just getting over a hump or a fear of starting something new. I should make myself do it more often. I messed up my finances this month because i have been slacking on my email. Time to take my own advice!!!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 3 years ago from Ohio

      Made - I totally relate to that. There are just days when doing anything is just too much. It is good to be able to recognize when you truly need to take a break. Not letting things pi8le up is key! I am just getting out of a rut and I really appreciate your comment. A great reminder to get off my butt and do a little something with my laundry :)

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