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How to Stop Procrastinating

Updated on October 7, 2013

If you are anything like me, you have times when procrastination paralyzes you completely into non-action! Sometimes, when approaching a task, I find myself distracted. Why write a report when the dishes need cleaning? Why clean the dishes when my favorite show is on? This process of avoiding what I need to do can be plain exhausting ! Faced with the process of another day of avoidance, I began asking myself, “How can I break the habit of procrastination?” I even reached out to friends for their tips. Instead of doing my laundry, I spent time finding out a little more about what people put off, why and 5 easy steps to beating procrastination. Ultimately, it led to helping me get right on task…the next day that is.

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Do you procrastinate?

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Why Do People Procrastinate?

People procrastinate for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, people have no clue as to why they are avoiding a task. The three most popular reasons people procrastinate are:

1. They don’t want to do it:

Sometimes we have to do things we simply don’t want to do. Who doesn’t want clean dishes? But doing the job itself is another thing completely. Many times we are charged with doing things that need to be done that we simply prefer not to do.

2. They are afraid:

There are other times that doing a task means facing something we are actually afraid of. Why didn’t I want to write my report? I was in fear of not performing well. Fear of performance or failure is a common reason for putting a job off.

3. It feels overwhelming:

Often a job just feels too big to tackle. Organizing, losing weight and learning something new are all common things people put off because they task feels HUGE.

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10 Things People Typically Put-Off

Feel lazy? Like perhaps you should even be punished for your sloth? Don’t worry! You are not alone. Procrastination is a common problem for most people. Read this list of typical tasks people avoid doing:

1. Cleaning

2. Working

3. Difficult conversations

4. Break ups/Divorces

5. Writing

6. Exercising

7. Dieting

8. Moving

9. Paying bills

10. Organizing

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5 Easy Steps to End Procrastination

1. Be honest:

Sit. Quiet your mind and think, “Why am I avoiding this?” Are you afraid? Is this something you just plain don’t like doing? Being honest with yourself about the reason you are procrastinating might be the key to unlocking your action.

2. Be gentle with yourself:

Many people react to procrastination by beating themselves up. Being hard on yourself will only cause more inactivity! Forgive yourself for being human and move on as quickly as possible.

3. Make a plan:

Your tasks are not going to do themselves! You are going to have to make a move. How do you go about that, when the problem is you feel distracted or stuck? Make a specific plan of action. Break big projects into small parts. Be detailed and even include an order and time limits for each task. As you move from one action to another, check it off your plan. This creates a sense of moving forward.

4. Pace Yourself:

Breaking your projects down into parts is helpful. But to keep yourself going, pace yourself. You might want, for example, to place small breaks in between you tasks. Or, plan to do a few parts now and a few later. Pacing yourself takes the pressure away from any job.

5. Reward Yourself:

When you have completed a job that was big, you feared or did not want to do, you deserve a pat on the back! So, give yourself one! You earned it! Think of something you like to do before you start working through your task. It can be a great incentive for finishing. But remember, make it worth it!

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Need More Help?

Whether you find yourself avoiding small tasks or large projects, know that you are not alone and that there is a way out! If you find you are procrastinating chronically and need more help than a 5 step plan offers, please don’t feel shy in asking for help. Procrastination can be a sign of greater anxieties, but remember, you are NEVER alone.

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    • Kristen Haynie profile image

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      This is very good advice. I have a really big problem with procrastinating! I always put things off until the very last minute, all the while worrying about the fact that it's not getting done. It seems so silly, because it would be so much easier to just get it done, and save myself the stress. But sometimes I feel like I literally can't do it, for whatever reason.

      I love your #3 above, "make a plan". It's a great idea and I think I'll try it, along with the others of course.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Kristen, I wrote this because I was STUCK a few days ago! I could not seem to get started. That is something that just happens to me from time to time. I was inspired to just start writing to help others like me! Glad to hear something resonated!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Voted up and interesting.

      Guilty as charged! lol

      I find the best way is to have a plan and try to stick to it, but often still find excuses. The reward system works well though ... at least for me.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Brett.Tesol, I think everyone procrastinates at some point! I always laught when I think of the games I have to play with myself just to be productive! Is this what being an adult is about? Maybe. What can I say, I liked stickers as a kid :)

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      I liked your hub it has some great useful tips indeed, I never really procrastinate, but I'm sure many others can make use of it all.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      CloudExplorer, you are CLEARLY a very hard worker and I personally admire your drive. Hmmm...maybe thats another step to added, "Find Inspiration."

    • FGual profile image

      FGual 5 years ago from USA

      Great advice here. Breaking it down into small steps makes any task a lot more manageable, taking it day by day. Self-reward is so important, even just going to McDonald's for a cup of coffee feels good.

    • Goodpal profile image

      Goodpal 5 years ago

      This hub is a good reminder to stay fit, healthy, and alert.

      You have rightly outlined the anatomy of procrastination and remedies. Taking small steps is perhaps the way to start. Exercising and avoiding heavy food-stuff also helps -- it keeps lethargy (twin brother of procrastination!) away. Mindfulness meditation is useful in trying to figure out what is really going on inside us.

      Thanks for clearly expressed useful ideas on somethings we all get afflicted quite often.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      FGual-I love coffee and it is often a reward for me. Goodpal-Thanks for the reminder about physical health. I agree that it definately plays a part in procrastination. Sometimes a very big one for me personally.

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Great advice, beautifully and simply written. I need to focus more on reducing the amount that I procrastinate!

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      nifwlseirff: Keeping it simple is part of my letting my perfectionism go! I found that needing things to be perfect had a LOT to do why any things NEVER got done! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    • Goodpal profile image

      Goodpal 5 years ago

      Yes, perfectionism tendency can keep one thinking endlessly leading to delays in actually doing something. It sure is another source of procrastination for many including me.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Goodpal, I totally relate! The more go easy on myself, the more I get done!

    • Goodpal profile image

      Goodpal 5 years ago

      Living deep inside the "comfort zone" is perhaps at the innermost core of procrastination. Then it is highly "comforting" to find excuses to do "nothing" - when somethings needs to be done.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      If I was to stay in my "comfort zone," I would literally do nothing....productive that is. It takes courage to be willing to do more than you want to do.

    • talitz2550 profile image

      talitz2550 5 years ago from Thailand

      I love the advice that you gave. They're realistic, very practical. But I am the total reverse of what you have described... "paralyzed to non-action"... I get so active at doing lot of things at the same time...uggh!! without accomplishing most of them. :D.. Why people procrastinate? 1,2 &3.. still I'm still the total reverse...Things that I put off?... #'s 6,7,8...#4 is N/A. BUT... I REALLY LOVE YOUR 5 EASY STEPS!!!EVERYTHING I HOPE, WILL WORK FOR ME :) More Powers in 2012!

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      talitz2550, I understand! I vacillate between busy and lazy! Ha! I am either working hard or hardly working :) All or nothing=perfectionism

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      This is really good advice for procrastinator, and I am one. In addition to breaking the task into small pieces, much like objectives, I've found putting time frames on mine helps me get moving. For instance, if is set 9:00 as my start time then I will finish writing the summary for the grant by 11:00." Giving myself actual ending times keeps me pushing through the urge to put things aside. Thanks for providing additional ideas for my arsenal. I need all the help I can get. Welcome to hubpages, by the way.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks Cyndi-

      Setting time limits and making appointments with yourself are great ideas. Thank you for the warm welcome :)

    • talitz2550 profile image

      talitz2550 5 years ago from Thailand

      hahahaha! just saw the video now. Yes! that's exactly me! I have lots of stuff done so I ended up not finishing the stuff I really have to do ! hahahaha!!

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great hub! I am also a procrastinator at times, for all of the reasons you've given. I found this article to be very insightful - thanks for writing it!

    • DougBerry profile image

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      Congratulations on the HubNugget nomination, good luck! I always put off for tomorrow what I will then postpone forever. But I don't plan on changing.

      Therefore, I suggest adding, "Let me get back to you on that," as a possible answer to your quiz. I am kidding. I don't procrastinate all the time. My boss does that and it drives me insane.

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      What a great hub! I've finally learned that procrastinating causes me WAY more stress than just getting said task over and done with... Breaking down projects into small pieces is a great tip, that's pretty much how I approach my whole life. Congrats on the nomination, I voted for this hub.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      talitz2550-I happen to love that video and,YES,it represents me and my wandering mind perfectly! I start one place and when I am done I wonder "now what was I trying to finish?" I have accepted that activity is better than inactivity (even if it is not the activity I set out to do).

      savingkathy-Thank you for taking the time to read my hub. I think procrastination is a topic we can all relate to too!

      DougBerry-I want to comment on your comment but---let me get back to you on that!

      wordscribe43-I think almost all my stress is self-created! That is why I am constantly looking for ways to help myself. Breaking tasks down in peices is the easier, softer way to approaching my life, too.

    • jeyaramd profile image

      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Great hub. Procastination is said to be the thief of time. Thanks for the wonderful tips. Congrats on your nomination.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks jeyaramd. I am excited about my hubnugget nomination. It's an honor to be considered amongst such wonderful writers. My experience here at HP has been exciting.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Krystal, congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To all who would like to vote, this way please: http://redelf.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/The-Adv... don't procrastinate...do it now...hahahhaha

      I think I procrastinate too! But when I got into the habit of doing the difficult things first, things have been easier to accomplish! Hurrah for us! Let's keep on.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you so much ripplemaker.It is an honor to be nominated amongst such wonderful hubbers! Hopefully people will not procrastinate voting!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      Yes, I must say this describes me very well, especially difficult conversations and cleaning hard to reach places. I have a further one related to working and difficult conversations combined- I get panic attacks at the thought of job interviews with strangers so I put off applying for positions where I don't know the person who does the hiring.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Flora, I completely understand. I am procrastinating doing laundry as we speak! I am going to take my own advice and set a reward. When I am done, I will light a candle and dance to my dad's oldies! Al Green would be perfect :)

      Job interviews can be nerve wrecking! it helps me to think that I am actually interviewing them. I feel confident about my abilities so I just want to make sure I get to do my best job in a positive environment.

      As for cleaning...I better get to my own laundry before I give any advice there!

    • LindaNicole profile image

      LindaNicole 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Awe- this is so me- procrastination ! There is a book called "Eat The Frog" that talks about when you procrastinated the whole time your waiting and worrying, you could just do it and then have the rest of the day to enjoy your life.

    • Kiela Starcatcher profile image

      Kiela Starcatcher 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Man, is it bad that I'm guilty of like half the things on your list? LOL I was particularly amused at #5. Most people don't think to include Writing in a procrastination list, but why not? Especially here on hubpages! I can't think of a more appropriate place to bring that one up. (^_^)

      I also liked the "Be gentle with yourself" guideline. You're absolutely right. We fall off the bandwagon with our goals, we beat ourselves up. We put off something important, and we guilt ourselves into misery. We need to be more like Rafiki the babboon from The Lion King when he bops Simba on the head: "Ow! What was that for?" "Doesn't matter - it's in the past!" (^_^)

      Rated up.

    • rLcasaLme profile image

      rLcasaLme 5 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

      The poll says that 6% of us never procrastinate, 24% of us sometimes do, and 71% often does. Boy, that's a bit too much, isn't it? I usually belonged to those 71% that does, and I'm really pushing myself to somehow belong to the 24%, and is hopeful that one day I'd be with those 6% who never does procrastinate.

      I, by the way, laughed at the second step "be gentle with yourself." Frustration is a product of my procrastination, and it really is irritating at times. In time, I've finally learned to cool myself down to avoid further my unproductiveness.

      These steps are indeed very effective ways of avoiding procrastination. Voted it up!

    • profile image

      Gail Joshua 5 years ago

      Your article - and the video bolted me into action! What a blessing to find a refreshing answer to a problem I wasn't even thinking about(but should have been) (smile). I voted for you, and hope you get the nomination. I am so glad I came across your hub!

    • damojackson profile image

      damojackson 5 years ago from Leeds, UK

      I could get so much done if only it wasn't for the amount of procrastination i do! I am shocking! I make a list for things i need to finish in that week and it took me 3 weeks to finish the list.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      LindaNicole-"Eat the Frog" sounds taylor maid for my wandering mind! lol! I will check that out.

      Kiela Starcatcher-"The Lion King" was full of wisdom! lol! I had to include writing because I put it off for several years!

      Kiela Starcatcher- I am also one to naturally beat myself up when I fall short of my own expectations. Learning to relax and accept myself is quite a process.

      damojackson-Congrats on finishing the list at all! Reward yourself for getting it done at all. Imagine, it could have just been totally left on the list :)

    • skye2day profile image

      skye2day 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Blessings KrystalD I like your writing. Great advice. I see you have allot of readers on this topic. I need not wonder why, hey? It truly helps me to know I am not a lone ranger. Fear is a big stopper. GOD tells us not to fear and be anxious for nothing. When I put off doing it is fear. Fear is false expectations appearing real. For me what helps is trusting God and repeating one of HIS promises in the WORD. For those that believe in Christ, all things are possible. The enemy likes to make us feel less then guilty and unmanagable. God is a GOD of peace. I am a works in progress. We have control over our thoughts. God is for us not against us. It helps to put the outcome in HIS big hands. He is in control. He owns it all anyway. I joined your rank of fans. Welcome aboard the hubs of love. Voted up girl. Keep on Love n Peace Krystal.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      I was going to comment on this 2 weeks ago, but I procrastinated... Great article with lots of good tips! I'm a big procrastinator and can usually find an excuse not to do just about anything, but I do find that breaking up a task into segments is helpful, as is promising myself little rewards. Voted up and shared!

    • KeithTax profile image

      Keith Schroeder 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Now if I can only get started on this.

      I think overwhelm and "not wanting to do it" top my list of reasons for putting things off.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Skye2day-I think this topic is one that we cn all relate to!

      Stephanie-I am also a bit procrastinator and I am working to implement this tips in my life. I think they are really working! I have certainly been more productive :)

      Keith-That is a lot of honesty! I think if we all thought out why we were so inactive we might find this same reason.

    • Diana Mendes profile image

      Diana Mendes 5 years ago

      Great hub. Some good advice here. Procrastination is a big problem. I always do things at the last minute even if I had plenty of time to complete the job. It has become a way of life for me. Thanks for sharing these useful tips. I am surely going to make use of them.

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Diana, I certainly understand! It is tough for me to break my procrastination habit too but this tips have been helping me get much better. Making a list each week for my weekend (for example), helps me stay productive.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      Great advice, good hub.

      Voted up etc.

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Voted up & useful. :) I think your tips for overcoming procrastination are simple and practical. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Trevor 4 years ago

      Our brains should be smarter than this. Here’s the thing, our brains are driven by emotions. Procrastination is a clever strategy that we do to keep us safe and free of pain. So if the task is not one that you are really motivated to do, the brain defers action (pain now) to do more pleasurable things. http://agilelife.com.au/5-easy-steps-to-stop-procr...

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks Trevor! That explains a lot. It is certainly true that i never put off the things I like to do :)

    • rian191991 profile image

      rian191991 4 years ago

      nice article KrystalD

    • KrystalD profile image
      Author

      KrystalD 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks rian191991 :)

    • profile image

      Jade 4 years ago

      My therapist once used the phrase "paralysis by analysis". It fit me to a tee. Thank you for addressing this issue.

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