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Eliminate Procrastination Now

Updated on December 16, 2014

It’s 10 PM on a Sunday night. Your credit card bill is due by 11:59 PM. You have yet to start on your research for a presentation you have tomorrow afternoon. You want to go to bed, but you still need to pull out the children’s clothes for tomorrow. You slump on your bed and shake your head in disgust. “How did I get myself in this situation again?” you wonder aloud. You are a procrastinator and you are ready to make a change. This article will spell out how.

Simple reminders work well for some procrastinators

Source: hang_in_there
Source: hang_in_there
Source: celesteh
Source: celesteh

Changing Our Mindset

When Nike came out with the “Just Do It” advertising campaign it soon became a mantra of anti-procrastination advocates everywhere. Procrastinators were encouraged to ignore their emotions and the logistics of their situation and just do whatever was needed to be done. This would have worked if procrastination was solely based on fear or laziness, but this simply is not the case. Procrastination is a complex phenomenon which may be fueled by fear or laziness, but may also be fueled by overwhelm, lack of supports, lack of resources, limited motivating factors, inadequate organizational skills, or limited accountability. A great place to start is with a new mindset.

A new mindset can be established by replacing old, unhelpful thoughts and assumptions with realistic, helpful thoughts. Here are few examples.

  • Replace: Things must be perfect or they are not worth doing at all.

  • Embrace: Nobody’s perfect. I’ll be satisfied if I do the best I can.

  • Replace: I can’t do this.

  • Embrace: I need to try this.

  • Replace: I want to enjoy myself right now.

  • Embrace: I can enjoy myself when this is done.

  • Replace: I work best under pressure.

  • Embrace: I’m going to have time to relax when I’m done.

  • Replace: I don’t feel like doing this.

  • Embrace: I’m going to feel great when this is done.

Changing one’s mindset is not easy work. It means changing what you have been telling yourself unconsciously and repeatedly for years. To be successful, you will need to be persistent, intentional, and consistent. One way to do this is to make reminders of the new thoughts in places you regularly frequent. Post It notes, index cards, and screen savers are great aids with this. Another approach would be to make repeating the new, helpful thought part of your daily routine. For example, repeating, “I have the tools I need to get this done,” while brushing your teeth.

Source: Courtney Dirks
Source: Courtney Dirks

What do you think?

Which type of To Do lists are most effective for you?

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Changing Our To Do List

There are many different ways to do To Do lists. A carefully designed To Do list can dramatically increase the likelihood the list is completed. Here are three ways to modify your To Do lists.

Details, Details, Details. A detailed to do list is going to be much longer than a general to do list. It will assist the procrastinator in two ways. First, it will give many different opportunities for success. A list with many things crossed out can be more empowering and more inspiring than a short list with things half done. Secondly, a detailed list helps the procrastinator think through all of the steps involved in a task and properly plan time and resources.

  • Normal To Do List

    • Wash car

    • Clean kitchen

    • Mail bills

  • Detailed To Do List

    • Wash car

    • Get car wash soap

    • Find old towels

    • Vacuum car

    • Find vacuum attachments

    • Wash dishes

    • Clean out refrigerator

    • Sweep kitchen floor

    • Gather check book, bills, and stamps

    • Double check bank account balance

    • Write out the checks for the bills

    • Mail the bills

Add time frames to your to do list so that you have a goal to work towards. This will assist in fighting against the temptation to do something else.

  • Detailed and Time Limited To Do List

    • Wash car by 10 AM (15 minutes)

    • Get car wash soap from the store (20 minutes)

    • Find old towels (5 minutes)

    • Vacuum car (10 minutes)

    • Find vacuum attachments (10 minutes)

    • Wash dishes 10:15 AM (15 minutes)

    • Clean out refrigerator 10:30 AM (15 minutes)

    • Sweep kitchen floor (5 minutes)

    • Gather check book, bills, and stamps (5 minutes)

    • Double check bank account balance (5 minutes)

    • Pay the bills (20 minutes)

    • Mail the bills 3 PM

  • Notice not everything received a specific time to do it. That can be overwhelming and does not allow for flexibility. If the mail carrier comes at 3:30 PM though, one needs to schedule for the bills to be in the mail well ahead of time. If one does not put in any specific times, the excuse of doing it later remains.

Write your list based on your priorities. Put the most pressing things first. Tasks can be deemed important either because of their relevance to your personal goals or because of outside pressures such as a due date.

  • Priorities Based To Do List

    • Pay Bills

      • Gather check book, bills, and stamps

      • Double check bank account balance

      • Pay the bills

      • Mail the bills

    • Clean car

      • Wash car

      • Get car wash soap

      • Find old towels

      • Vacuum car

      • Find vacuum attachments

    • Clean kitchen

      • Wash dishes

      • Clean out refrigerator

      • Sweep kitchen floor

  • In the above example, paying bills was the most important thing. Suppose one’s mother-in-law was coming over for dinner. Then cleaning the kitchen may be more important. Suppose one needed to drive around an important client. Then cleaning the car would be the first priority.

Source: skippyjon
Source: skippyjon

Changing Our Environment

By changing our surroundings, we can eliminate certain excuses for procrastination.

  • House cleaning – can’t find or don’t have the necessary cleaning products

    • Stock the house and store cleaning products close to where they are used.

  • Paying bills – can’t find or don’t have checkbook, stamps, account numbers

    • Store needed materials, phone numbers, account numbers, passwords, checkbooks, stamps, websites, etc. in an easily accessible, and secure location.

  • Daydreaming? Move to a location without windows, pictures, or interesting knick knacks.

  • Television is a distraction? House it in an armoire or turn on the radio instead. Monitor what type of background noise works for you. If listening to music is distracting, maybe news radio would be more appropriate.

  • Move to an environment where there is nothing to do, but complete the task at hand. The simplest form of this is leaving the house to go to the library to work on a paper. If one stays at home there are many things that could be more interesting and spark procrastination.

  • Turn off the cell phone. Don’t place it on vibrate. Turn it off.

An organized desk can go a long way towards increasing productivity.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Changing Our Systems of Accountability

Accountability can take many different forms. It can come in the form of a good friend, a complete stranger, a 12 step sponsor, a website, or an app. This basic idea is to answer to someone else.

  • Being open with a good friend can be a great way to start building accountability. Choose someone who is consistent and would feel comfortable bringing up the topic. If you have a contemptuous relationship with the person, they are not likely a good match as you will not feel comfortable being open with them and you are unlikely to take the advice.

  • Total strangers can be great accountability partners. Websites with support oriented forums are a great place to start to find persons looking to help others and help themselves.

  • If you are a part of a 12 step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, a key part of the success of the program is sponsorship. A sponsor is more than an accountability partner. They also share from their experience and personal recovery practical advice on how to work through the program and experience sobriety.

  • Websites and apps themselves can also provide accountability. Some allow you to identify a goal and then if you do not report in that you have met you goal, they debit your credit card with a donation to a non-profit. would be an example of this.

Procrastination can be overcome, but it is a complex problem that may require multiple approaches if one is to address all of the issues that contribute to it.

Source: Brett Jordan
Source: Brett Jordan

Bonus Tip

Some procrastinators spend a lot of time reading tips about procrastination. Stop reading. Start doing.


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    Post Comment

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I'll be bookmarking this. My favorite part is the Bonus Tip. That's me all the way! I'm going to change though...Next week. :)

      Thanks Cyndy, I needed this.

    • Life Coach Cyndy profile imageAUTHOR

      Cyndy Adeniyi 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks mblwalz. Overwhelm is my big issue. Lately I've been using to organize my thoughts and create my super detailed to do lists.

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 

      4 years ago from Maine

      That was a great article, lots of really helpful hints. I'm a procrastinator for sure - I think I get overwhelmed.


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