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Curing Procrastination - Can Procrastination Be Cured At All?

Updated on December 11, 2013

Curing Procrastination - Getting Things Done When There Is No Hope!

Curing procrastination - what does the term actually mean? Can procrastination be cured? Can you make it end? Is there a hope for hopeless procrastinators? These are some of the questions this article will discuss. But who am I to give you tips on procrastination anyway?

I've been a procrastinator all my life and while at times this was a 'trait' that wouldn't bother me too much, at other times it would really cut deep in the quality of my life. There were things I NEEDED to get done but simply put off until it was too late. (Did you ever have to pay a fine because you haven't filed your taxes in time AND forgot to ask for an extension? Well, I did!).

Of course when dealing with chronic procrastinators the situation is a bit more serious, however for regular, average Joe and Jane procrastinators here are some of the easy and powerful tips that worked for me for curing procrastination, some of the better resources I used that might help you too, and...

I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I did - and don't put it off for too long :-)

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The 60 Second Procrastinator

60 Second Procrastinator
60 Second Procrastinator

Whether it's harnessing the power of a deadline or having someone with a toe tapping, waiting for your work, you can find a technique to get the job done in Jeff Davidson's "60 Second Procrastinator" book.

 
procrastination too late
procrastination too late

Which Type Of Procrastinator Are You?

A few years back as part of a 'training on the job' I had to attend a TMI seminar ( time management seminar). While it really didn't do much for me (as these corporate type training usually do for us, the little employees), it did give me some ideas on where to start - how to end my procrastination.

It did take me a long time until I finally found what worked for me, but as I've started helping others, I've realized that procrastination is really quite common and it behaves in common ways - hence it can be sorted out without any heavenly interventions.

If you've been trying to put an end to your procrastination for any length of time, you'll be surprised about the following.

Procrastination is not ALL bad.

There are actually several types of procrastination, each heavily employed by several people.

  1. For some, procrastination is a bliss. Literally. They simply put off things they don't want to deal with and enjoy the free time that this gives them. Heaven on earth!
  2. For others (like me), there is an additional element to it all, something that makes it the big problem that it is for us. You know what it is, that nagging little voice in the back of your head that you simply can't shake, no matter how much you try.

    For these types of people, putting things off brings about all sorts of negative feelings such as guilt, shame, worry, feeling bad, overwhelmed and plain stressed out to no end. If you ask me which of these feelings I have when I procrastinate, I can safely say all (or almost all) of them.

    And the funny thing is, we KNOW that if we just DO the things we need to do now, we won't feel guilty, bad, and so on. We know that we will feel good right after. Yet, we put off doing just that. Weird how our minds works, isn't it?

  3. Then there are also the people who simply can't decide on something, so they put off the decision. That is also a strong type of procrastination. That inability to do something, that 'freeze up' feeling is truly debilitating and incapacitating. You simply get so anxious about it that you keep putting it off and off until the last moment.
  4. And for some, there is just this feeling that there are other more fun things to do than what they have to do. Nobody likes to deal with unpleasant and negative chores, so putting them out of their minds is their natural way to deal with negative things and surround themselves with positive things...until the shit literally hits the fan (pardon my expression).
  5. And finally we have the chronic procrastination folks, about which I wrote in another article right here on Squidoo

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I'll Stop Procrastinating Tomorrow

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Why Curing Procrastination Is Hard

For most people curing procrastination, ending this feeling of being stuck in a rut is very hard. Many need external help to really get going again. For some (albeit a smaller number of people), it is relatively easy. But nobody so far said that ending procrastination was fun and a piece of cake. So what is it about it that makes it so?

There are several reasons really and while not all are equally applying to everyone, they are quite valid for most.

Procrastination is an ingrained habit

It is true. We are procrastinating out of habit. We don't even realize it for the most part that we're doing it, until that little nagging voice comes down sneaking upon us, reminding us that we shouldn't do it.

I mean just think about it. Do you simply wake up in the morning saying to yourself: "Today I'm going to procrastinate"? it's not a conscious decision from your part. It happens as part of a habit that you have developed over time.

Procrastination has a power of seduction that is hard to resist

As we've discussed above, when we procrastinate, we put off things we don't like to do and in most cases we replace it with things we enjoy doing, we take pleasure in tackling instead of those 'other' things. We avoid doing things we don't like, we avoid talking to people we don't like, and we spend our times instead engrossed in something much more pleasant...

Procrastination is what we're mostly familiar with

It's true, we are very familiar with procrastination, and it is a fact that people very seldom venture out of their comfort zone, unless absolutely necessary. How many times have you met a person who was stuck in a less than quality relationship simply because that's what they were familiar with and they were darn scared to get a divorce or simply start life anewed? In a way, this is part of procrastination too.

Procrastination is a way to deal with things

It might play out on an unconscious level but procrastination is really a way to deal with things more than you would think. Remember the times when you were in school and the teacher was giving all sorts of things like "Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today.", making you feel real bad if you DID put it off...

Or the parents looking angry at you with their bushy eyebrows raised knit together implying that you should DO something instead of simply lazying off in front of the TV or video game or on the couch. "Couch potato" is something that one hears a lot in this respect.

It's been ingrained since childhood that getting off your butt and doing things might not be really pleasant. (Well they might actually be, but who really wants to do things they HAVE to do?)

Because of all these reasons, it is really difficult to 'try something new', and get out of this laziness, comfort zone, and put it off...and put it off...and put it off...

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Stop Procrastinating!

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start right now

Curing Procrastination - Start Right Now

The first main step in curing your procrastination is being aware that you are doing it. Most people simply have no awareness that they are procrastinating until it's too late. This is very common, and chances are...you're doing it too.

What you need to do in this case is simply start your de-programming journey right now. I bet there are many, many things that you are procrastinating about just now. So you don't have to wait until you find something new to procrastinate about. Start with something that you've been putting off already.

You need to find the motivation to do it. You can choose various motivation techniques, anything that gets you going and makes you feel motivated about doing it. If guilt is what gets you going, then use it. If a reward of some kind awaits you at the other end, then let that be your guide.

For example you could think of things like "There are people out there that are counting on me". Or "I need to do this so my spouse or children don't think I'm a time waster.". Or "so I can finally cross it off my list."

Further Resources On Ending Procrastination

Curing Procrastination By Learning To Prioritize

This is a great way to stop procrastinating. Fact is that we all live rather complex and complicated lives. It seems that the more our society finds ways to make life easier by adding to our lives all sorts of gadgets to make i easier on us, the more our lives DOES get more complex.

Just have a small chat with your parents - or better yet your grandparents if they are still alive, and compare their daily duties when they were at your age with yours. I bet your grandparents had maybe half - or less than half of things you need to do today.

So it is important that you learn to prioritize if you want to cure your procrastination once and for all. You have to recognize that you can't do everything in one go. That's just impossible. And also you have to realize that there will be things that you will simply never do. That's part of life too.

There are some things that are more important than others and need a higher priority than others. Cleaning our your wardrobe is certainly less important than doing your taxes, yet how many people prefer doing just that instead of doing the important paperwork.

One way I go about this aspect is by writing a list of everything I need to do that I am aware of right now.

Then as i go through the list, I ask myself how important is each task compared to the others. Is there anything that needs a specific deadline to be met? (like doing those taxes)? Is there anything that causes any problems (to you or others) if you don't do them as soon as possible? Is there anything that helps making your life much easier if you do it, and sooner rather than later?

When I use these three questions and answer with an X next to them, I get a pretty good image of what I will be doing sooner and what can be left for later - and what can be left for maybe never to be done (like reorganizing your bookshelf in alphabetical order rather than by color or size).

Procrastinator's Creed Humor College Poster Funny Print

24x36

Procrastination Takes Too Long Crystal Heavy Paperweight Punch Studio

Stop Procrastination! Subliminal CD with

(NLP) Neurolinguistic Programming imbedded in soothing music and calming sounds of ocean waves

Time Management Hypnosis-cd

I Can Not Wait To Procrastinate Juniors T-shirt, Funny Trendy Hot Juniors Shirt

Procrastination Essence, 1 oz.

Knock Knock Procrastination Spitball Dartpad

lazy procrastinator
lazy procrastinator

Don't Listen To The Voice That Promises To Do It Later

One of my favorite procrastination rouses is to say 'I'll do this as soon as I finished X (X being watching a movie, or playing a computer game, or anything that is pleasant but not really useful in getting things done).

The problem with this approach is in Murphy's Law which basically says "If anything can go wrong, it WILL."

Something will always come between your wanting to do something later and actually doing it. Maybe a friend stops by and you can hardly throw them out saying that you have to finish your homework or do the dishes, or clean the house. You can't be impolite with your friend.

Or maybe you get a phone call and you have to dash out of the house. And suddenly everything becomes more important THAN doing the very task you keep putting off at any cost. (And sometimes those costs can get pretty high).

Also some people justify their procrastination because the little voice in their minds will tell them "I'm not in the right mood for it.", or "I don't feel like doing it just now." or "It's just not the right time for best results.". Have you ever had your voice telling you this or something similar? I know i have.

So when you find in your mind that little honey voice telling you that it's ok to leave it for later, recognize for what it is. A ruse to bit do what you should. A sign that you are procrastinating.

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Do you have that seductive inner voice that you love (yet know it is bad for you)?

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watching tv
watching tv

Avoid Unnecessary Distractions

This is a great way to help yourself cure procrastination. There are so many distractions every day that are practically thrown at us that it's very easy to get distracted by the seduction of most of them. The thing about distractions is that they are usually those 'fun' things in life, like watching TV when you should be doing something else.

So here are some tips that you can follow in curing procrastination for good:

  • Switch off your TV when you start your task.
  • Don't answer the phone (home phone or your cell phone). Put your cell phone on vibration mode or quiet and leave the message to go to voicemail, so you don't lose anything important.
  • If you have people around the house, tell them explicitly to not disturb you for x amount of time (half an hour, one hour, etc). You are basically off-limits during this time.
  • If you find your mind shifting to other more pleasant things, focus it back on your task at hand. I find it easier if I simply tell myself that I'll come back to it as soon as I've finished what I have to do first.
  • Don't try multitask. Don't try to do several things at the same time. Focus on one thing only. This will make you do the current task really well.

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Are You Really Serious About Defeating Procrastination?

Get rid of your procrastination now! Click here to learn the secret easy way!

Chronic Procrastination
What exactly is chronic procrastion? We usually procrastinate when we do smaller, unimportant things when we should be doing our main task, the one that need...

Reader's Guestbook And Feedback On Curing Procrastination

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    • profile image

      antiprocrastination 4 years ago

      Small tip to end procrastinating for all the potheads... stop smoking pot, lol.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I always try to deal with things right away or they drive me crazy so procrastination has never been a problem for me. I use the term, "Just grab the bull by the horns" quite often. It helps me deal with tasks that I may not want to.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      So essentially to stop Procrastinating by what I do...

      I have to Procrastinate, my Procrastinating, by doing what I was oringally going to Procrastinate? XD

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Blessed-I am the one who cant make a decision

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I really went too far a little intro is getting me out the way. I hope I can finish these three papers and study for my midterm by tomorrow

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 5 years ago

      reqading this lens started to make me feel guilty about procrastinating on other things, so I'm putting off finishing reading it until tomorrow, or whatever. But I did skip to the comments so I can tell you what a great job you are doing! Thanks...and maybe you'll get another thanks in a couple of days, or whatever.

    • Genycis LM profile image

      Genycis LM 5 years ago

      Very in depth lens that you have up! I've been a pretty bad procrastinator in the past myself so this lens definitely hits a lot on the head. It is indeed a task trying to cure procrastination as you stated, but definitely not impossible. Great lens!

    • moralblogger lm profile image

      moralblogger lm 5 years ago

      "I need to do this so my spouse or children don't think I'm a time waster."

      Nail on the head, there!

      Great tips!

    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 5 years ago

      I'll finish reading this tomorrow

    • colingsmith lm profile image

      colingsmith lm 5 years ago

      They're some good tips here! I find making 'priority lists' very useful too. Thanks, Colin

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      I'm mostly a paralyzed perfectionist type procrastinator. If it's something I care about, and I don't think I can do it well, I'll avoid it. Chunking tasks into smaller pieces works pretty well for me. You have lots of good info and resources here! "Squid Angel blessed."

    • casquid profile image

      casquid 5 years ago

      I like this lens. So many ways to get over what keeps me stuck. Wasting time gets the best of me, some days. Now you went and took away all my reasons for not getting things done in my life. Thanks Anyway!LOL

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Excellent advice for curing Procrastination. I never used to Procrastinate but the older I get, the more I seem to be procrastinating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hmmm, tried to bless and the thumb was white and now green but not showing on my dash, must have blessed in January and its just too soon, hard to figure out what's happening there.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I got around to stopping back for the cure!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Great article! Now I MUST go do things I'm not that crazy about. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Ok, now I am procrastinating while reading how to stop procrastination... funny. Good information, though, and very nice choice of literature..

    • BenJacklin LM profile image

      BenJacklin LM 5 years ago

      Great info - very Seth Godin!

    • charlb profile image

      charlb 5 years ago

      Awesome page and hits home....however link to learn how to stop procrastinating (arrow link) is now working at the mom

    • thingz1 profile image

      thingz1 5 years ago

      I was procrastinating other work and came upon this great page of info. Thanks! I'lll order something later :-) ... no really, I will.

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      What great information! I once again got pulled away by that nagging voice but, now am back on track. :)

    • profile image

      GenesisLabs 5 years ago

      This is a really important lens that I got a lot out of. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      That 'nagging little voice' is a stress producer for sure and the only way to shut it off is get the task on and move on...and then we realize we spent more time on it than needed with all that time spent procrastinating. Excellent advice for those of us who seem to have the gift of procrastination and have made it an art form!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens, I really enjoyed reading your lens tonight. I sometime procrastinate but find the planning helps me.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 5 years ago from London

      And there I was, putting off a whole list of things whilst I had a look at some lenses. I'm glad I did, because I found yours and it was just what I needed...synchronicity eh? Congratuations on your well deserved purple star.

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      This is a tough one. Hmmmm. Lots to think about. nice lens.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I try not to procrastinate, but there are times that I do. Nice to know there are others like me.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      I don't procrastinate much, and like you I find that list-making is my best defense against putting things off!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I know couple of procrastinators and in my opinion it is almost incurable disease... Great lens!

    • awestricken1 profile image

      Ken Parker 6 years ago from Tacoma, Wa

      Great work. Most get things done in the end, but sooner than that wouldn't be fun. Live life to the fullest and don't be in a hurry to get things done. Live in the momment. Great Lense. Nice purple Star !

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am a procrastinator and only just realized this past year, maybe I didn't want to admit it before not sure, but I always manage to get done what needs doing in the end. I think mine is more a mood thing, if I am not in the mood to do something, I don't want to do it. Hopefully this incredible lens will help me :) Congratulations on your shiny Purple Star!!! and here is an Angel blessing to go with it.

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 6 years ago

      excellent procrastination lens. This is a problem area for me but I am slowly working on getting better about it. Congratulations on your purple star! =)

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Congratulations on the Purple Star!

    • Craftymarie profile image

      Marie 6 years ago

      Great advice on procrastination - luckily I don't have this issue any more but it is tough when you do get it. Congrats on your purple star!

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 6 years ago from Gloucester

      Brilliant advice here on curing procrastination! I shall start on it tomorrow. ;) Just kidding. :D Really great lens, and I know I've learned a lot and I'm sure you've helped a lot of others too! Enthusiastically blessed! :)

    • profile image

      HERBMASTER 6 years ago

      I am glad someone is writing about this. The word needs to get out about this! In my case, I can get off track and have to refocus daily with all the distractions in life. If you ever feel a need to ! raise your spirits, come on over!

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 6 years ago

      Once something gets put off for a certain amount of time and moves into the "guilty feeling zone" then somehow it becomes harder to get it sorted out.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I have become a very talented procrastinator, and yes, it does cause stress. Much of my procrastination has to do with perfectionism. I want to do everything perfectly. And, since I am human, and perfection is not humanly possible, I can't seem to complete some tasks until the last minute, when there is no longer time to worry about perfection. Alas, that is what it is, and at least I know what is happening to cause my procrastination. Now to solve it! Thank you for these resources to assist my journey. Appreciated!

    • profile image

      Tamara14 6 years ago

      I guess I'm something like Kathy below said, I tend to procrastinate some things, while others I do just by the book :) I know I "filter" things by how much I like them to do though and I'm trying to cure myself :) Thanks for this resourceful lens and encouraging too. Blessed~

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 6 years ago from Ozun

      wow, i even did not know that my little dirty secret is having such a nice name... i put off anythimg what i have to solve on phone. Thanks for showing me the way out.

    • Tiggered profile image

      Tiggered 6 years ago

      Do nothing and then do the whole work in last 10 minutes with your abilities strained to maximum - that's my way and it usually works beautifully :) 80/20 rule applies :)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      I procrastinate some things and am very organized in other areas. My daughter is a major procrastinator, and what gets me is she always seems to need me to watch the kids or something else with very little warning...which impacts me! I don't like saying no, but often it is very inconvenient. If she didn't procrastinate I would have time to do what I needed to do before having to go help her ;) This was a good overview of curing procrastination...

    • YsisHb profile image

      YsisHb 6 years ago

      Gia sou Marcia G. Efcharisto for trying to critique my lens which had no link. (I put off writing it).

      Congratulations for your work. I belong to the category of procrastinators myself, so I can appreciate your advice.

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      when I was young I always heard the phrase "Procrastination is the thief of time". As I grew up I made sure that this did not creep in my life. Now, my husband is a great procrastinator and was a constant thorn in my side until I just let it go. Now I actually laugh and tease him about it. Life goes on however it does. So what?

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 6 years ago from Gloucester

      Great lens! Fabulous treasure of information! I agree with Kitty222 :)

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 6 years ago from Benson, IL

      I don't call it procrastination, I call it prioritizing. Should I finish up that Lens or do the dishes? And 9 times out of 10, finishing up the Lens will win out.

    • profile image

      carsquid 6 years ago

      The worst thing is when I feel guilt or actually pay the price for my procrastination I feel so bad and procrastinate even more. It is a vicious cycle (I am not sure this is the correct expression but I hope you understand what I mean)

    • BobBlackUK profile image

      BobBlackUK 6 years ago

      I frequently "intentionally put off doing something I need to do" because my list of things to do is so long and being added to faster than items get crossed off. My difficulty is working out priorities. This is another task in itself! The pressure is not external. I set my own goals and take on small challenges. I like to think things through before I act, work in a logical sequence, gather everything I need to perform the task, and ensure the time is right. Then I realize it's time for another cup of coffee.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Right now I'm procrastinating over starting a new lens and I'm doing it by reading other people's lenses like this one. Hopefully, it's given me the kick in the pants I need. Blessed.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      When you work home as I do, procrastination lurks everywhere, and I mean everywhere: on the way to the kitchen...there's the TV (luckily I am not much of a tv addict so it's ok), on the computer while squidooing...well there's other pages! And then there's eBay that I may need to do before squidoo, and zazzle I am suppose to tidy up since like forever. And kids are a procrastinator's best friend: I LOVE plying with them, even on my "mommy needs to work at the computer" time. But I am doing better and better at not procrastinating, really I do.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      I tend to have more organizational problems than procrastination nowadays -- which can lead to procrastination! Thanks for the tips.

    • modernchakra profile image

      modernchakra 6 years ago

      I did vote above that I am a positive procrastinator, but it would be a lie to say that it doesn't happen sometimes, feeling the overwhelming nature of your thoughts crush you like a bug... ok maybe a bit dramatic. But your tips really are welcoming and reaffirming of our ability to push through, with some practical application on how to achieve this as well, which is what I really appreciate. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Ugh! My lizard brain loves to procrastinate. Thanks for creating this helpful lens!

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      I think the greater part of the human race tends to procrastinate to one degree or another. But most of us could improve our lives if we a little less of it, too! Nice work.

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 6 years ago

      This is exactly what I need.

    • StevenCousley profile image

      Steven Cousley 6 years ago from Young, NSW, Australia

      Thank you for the great lens. I'd class myself as a type 2 procrastinator. But I'm working on it........ tomorrow.............. :)

    • vkumar05 profile image

      vkumar05 6 years ago

      Great Lens. This is one of the most important challenges in life I have observed. Thanks for sharing.

    • kislanyk profile image
      Author

      Marika 6 years ago from Cyprus

      Oh that is so true! And it happens to me at times for example when I sit down (or rather want to sit down) to create another Squidoo lens. I tend to do anything but do that! However I also know that when I do it without a 'nudge', all by myself, at a later time, even the words flow so much easier, everything goes so much smoother.

    • Krafick profile image

      Krafick 6 years ago

      There is also positive procrastination for writers. It provides the mind with the time it requires to devise and build things. Rafick