Stop Procrastination Help – 13 Tips For How to Overcome & Avoid Chronic Procrastination

ProcrastinationI really dislike cleaning. Every day I create a “To Do” list for myself, and every day this list includes cleaning, not because there is always more cleaning to do, but because I can never get myself to do it! I can’t tell you the last time I was able to check that off the list. I will do absolutely everything on that list before I even think about cleaning. Do you think I have a procrastination problem? I admit that I probably do. I also bet that procrastination plays a role in your life as well.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

The first step to get over the hurdle is to figure out why we are procrastinating. For me, there are several reasons why I procrastinate cleaning. For one thing, it is boring. I also feel that I never clean well enough. Here are some of the common reasons why people procrastinate:

  • The task is unpleasant or boring.
  • The task is overwhelming.
  • They are disorganized.
  • They are perfectionists.
  • They are fearful.
  • They are too distracted.
  • They have no accountability.
  • They lack motivation.

13 Tips On How To Overcome Procrastination

Once you understand the reasons why you are procrastinating doing a particular task or making an important decision, you can start to tackle the procrastination itself. Here are 13 tips on how you can battle procrastination:

For Tasks That Are Unpleasant and Boring:

1. Put It On Your Calendar – When there is something I don’t want to do, I block off time on my calendar to do it. When there is a decision to be made that is unpleasant to make, I put a deadline on my calendar. I have an old coworker who used to laugh at me because I would always block out time on my calendar to write project reports. But I had to do this; otherwise, I would continue to procrastinate ever completing them.

2. Make A Game Out Of It Or Distract Yourself – My grandmother always used to tell me to make a game out of it when I didn’t feel like working on something. She would tell me to see how fast I could do it. You can also listen to music or watch TV. When I clean (if I get around to cleaning), I like to listen to 90’s hits and sing along.

For Tasks That Are Overwhelming:

3. Start With Small Tasks – Sometimes when you have a lot to do, it is best to start with the small things and work up to the big things, similar to the idea of a debt snowball. It can be motivating to know how many small tasks you’ve completed and less daunting since there is now less to worry about.

4. Do The Worst Task First – Alternatively, you could do the one thing that you dread the worst first in order to get it out of the way. The rest is all down hill from there.

For The Disorganized:

5. Create A Plan Or Schedule – One thing I really struggle with when it comes to cleaning is that I am disorganized. I have no clue how often I should clean or how I should clean. My cleaning supplies are scattered throughout the house. I often waste time thinking about what I should do first. However, if I were to create a long-term schedule, I could know when the last time was that I cleaned and when to clean next. I could also come up with a plan on how to organize my supplies to make cleaning more efficient.

For The Perfectionists:

6. Think Positively – I get discouraged sometimes thinking that I won’t be able to do something right, and I end up putting it off. But just because I can’t clean perfectly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t clean at all. It is important to think positively by looking at what is good, even if it is not perfect.

For The Fearful:

7. Follow The “Do It Now” Philosophy – Sometimes when you are afraid to do something, it is best to do it and get it over with. If you are fearful, procrastinating is only going to make those fears worst. When I need to discuss something important with someone, I try to talk to them right away instead of dwelling on it and becoming nervous. Otherwise, I will end up putting it off for too long.

For The Distracted:

8. Reduce Distractions – My biggest distraction is email. For example, when I write articles, I actually shut down my email because, otherwise, I would check it every time I saw something in my inbox. That is incredibly inefficient. Perhaps for you, the TV is distracting. Or being in your own home where there are plenty of other things to do makes it hard to focus. Remove yourself from the distracting environment in order to complete your tasks.

For Those Who Lack Accountability:

9. Find An Accountability Partner – If no one is currently holding you accountable, you need to find someone who will. Talk to your spouse, other family member, or friend who you speak to regularly. Tell them that you need their help, and ask them to keep you in check. Just don’t ask anyone who will procrastinate in holding you accountable!

For Those Who Lack Motivation:

10. Give Yourself Breaks – I used to do this a lot when I was studying for finals in college. I would study for 50 minutes, which is the length of a standard class, and then give myself a ten minute break. Set a timer if you must (for the time you are working and the time you are breaking). Also, as you know, sometimes it is just getting started that is difficult. Once you get going, you may find that it is not that bad and you don’t even need a break!

11. Create a Jerry Seinfeld Progress Calendar – My husband uses a system created by Jerry Seinfeld to keep him motivated for his various daily tasks such as working out and reading. Seinfeld was giving a fellow comedian advice that he should write jokes every day instead of sitting down and writing them all at once. He said for every day that he writes, he puts an X on his calendar. After a few days, he has a chain. He told the young comedian, “Don’t break the chain.” You can try the same thing…don’t break the chain. You can build up some great momentum with this strategy.

12. Coffee Or Other Motivating Sweet – When I need to sit down and work on something, I make myself a frozen chai. It is one of the best gourmet coffee recipes. Just make sure to keep it somewhat healthy!

13. Consider The Costs – Time is money, and when you are procrastinating, you are potentially wasting money or losing out on various opportunities. Are you getting paid to put off something that is required of you? That could be costing your employer money as well as yourself if the potential to get a raise or promotion is at stake.

Final Word

Conquering procrastination takes a lot of self discipline. If you are a procrastinator, first admit it, and then figure out what is the cause of your procrastination. Once you’ve done that, these 13 tips are sure to come in handy.

What are your tips on battling procrastination?

(photo Credit: Rennett Stowe)

  • Olivia

    Great post. Got me thinking. Knowing your work/rest schdule is very helpful in tackling big tasks. I work best in 3 hour pushes. Mornings are more efficient and creative. If I push for several days in a row (like the mad rush before Thanksgiving when you’re having company over), I need a slow day to recover. Also treating myself to a fun something (not necessarily caloric) after finshing a task is helpful. Breaking a bigger task into smaller chunks works for some things. We have 27 windows in our house. If I were to try to tackle them in one shot it would be miserable. I do them in in 45 minute blocks over the course of several weeks.

    • Casey Slide

      Good idea, Olivia. I work best at night. Thanks for sharing!

  • Joe

    #1 makes the biggest difference for me – if I put it on my Google calendar, I am much more likely to do things I’ve been putting off. I’m super forgetful and really need to write things down these days.
    I also have a bunch of post it notes around my computer monitor at work, those are helpful reminders too. :)

    • Casey Slide

      Oh yeah, I would be lost without post it notes!

  • Ande Waggener

    Casey, I do that with e-mail when I write too. I found myself checking it whenever I got a new message. It takes twice as long to write something that way. ;)

    I love your #6–the attitude is so important. I also notice that if I think something’s going to be hard or take a long time, I’m ore likely to put it off. So why not think it’s going to be fun and go quickly. I did that recently with something I’d been telling myself would be hard, and sure enough, it was easier than I thought.

    Also love the ‘don’t break the chain.” Reminds me of gold stars and check marks, which I like too. :)

  • Casey

    Thanks, Ande! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Calswish

    Help I am a huge hot mess we moved in with my father in law to help him so all my house is in storage except bedroom furniture and all I mean all our clothes and everything to decorate 2 big bedrooms a bathroom long hallway and a basement I want to turn into out entertainment area for my son and his friends can’t hang anything on the wall my father in law has all his (opposite) taste every sqare inch, I have a just turned 12 yr old son and want him to be able to hang out down there and us as a family to play wii or get a ping pong table it is very big plus laundry area. I have tried to make it a pantry because he only has a put together food pantry that is 4 ft tall 3 ft. wide. and he is a sorry but a slob terrible. I mean gross I live with lysol. Sso I have a carpenter for a husband so anything is possible. A 5ft wide closet and maybe same deep and 7 high. in our bedrooms we have those cape cod window stupid spaces I was thinking of bbuying my son a twin bed and putting it in there so he has the rest of his room for an entertainment center and a small love seat and desk but any way I like to hang my clothes I make a mess in drawers and folded stacked all white shirts look the same jeans and pants can go on shelves oh I have alot of sheets bedding ect. so that big closet has shelves on three sides but now I dont like it. bedroom closets have a shelf and alot empty space above and a bar should I remove the shelf and do 2 rods for my husband and I? and use the shelves in the closet for everything else or remove a wall of shelves and put a bar. I have alot of shoes and bags what do I do help meI will even send pictures

  • Same Day Pros

    The last point is going to work the best for us. My family has a piggy bank where we put in money every time we accomplish a household related task. That has helped!