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If you want to learn how to stop procrastinating, recognise that you’re procrastinating and forgive yourself for procrastinating.  Only when you identify how procrastination can stop you from achieving your goals can you create strategies to help you stop procrastinating.

Procrastination can make you feel stuck, stressed, and anxious.  The more overwhelmed and stressed out by procrastination you are, the harder it will be to stop procrastinating.  To stop procrastinating, get clear on why you procrastinate and create strategies to overcome each reason one by one.

When you procrastinate, you put off important projects to the last minute, waste time on unimportant tasks, and choose to do things you know you shouldn’t be doing. 

Learning how to stop procrastinating will make you feel clear, more confident, and be motivated to take action.  Use these eight tips to help you stop procrastinating and take back control. 

Read also: 5 ways to overcome procrastination

What is procrastination? 

Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task by focusing time and energy on less urgent and more enjoyable activities. 

Procrastination can restrict your potential and lead to stress, frustration, and an inability to move forward and take action.

We procrastinate when we’re fearful of failure or have trouble getting started.  Procrastination is different from laziness.  Procrastinators choose to do something else, while laziness is the unwillingness to do anything.

What causes procrastination?  

There are many causes of procrastination.   People procrastinate because they’re afraid of failing or don’t feel like they have the self-confidence to take on the task. 

Procrastination happens when work is boring or unpleasant.  We procrastinate when we don’t have the capabilities or when an important event is about to happen, and we have to take action.

Here are 8 primary causes of procrastination. 

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Tasks are too daunting 
  3. Low confidence
  4. Lack of focus
  5. Low energy 
  6. Tasks aren’t exciting 
  7. Perfectionism 
  8. Lack of motivation 

How to stop procrastinating 

Here are 8 ways to stop procrastinating. 

1. Forgive yourself for procrastinating 

We all procrastinate.  To stop procrastinating, forgive yourself for procrastinating. Self-forgiveness reduces the feelings of guilt around procrastination. 

Self-forgiveness also causes you to analyse why you’re procrastinating so you can stop procrastinating in the future. Forgiving yourself for past procrastination will give you the confidence to stop putting off work in the future.

If you want to overcome perfectionism, read my guide to overcoming perfectionism.

2. Recognise you’re procrastinating 

To stop procrastinating, recognise that you’re procrastinating.  Recognising you’re procrastinating helps you identify the reasons behind procrastination.

Procrastination often happens when you set impossible goals, and you feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do to achieve your goals. You may also procrastinate because you find work boring and you want to avoid doing it.  

Once you understand the causes of your procrastination, you can eliminate them one by one.

3. Set better goals   

To stop procrastinating, set better goals.  When you set exciting and motivating goals, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate.  It’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t have clarity on your goals and a daily plan to achieve them.

We procrastinate when our to-do list seems too daunting or overwhelming.  To stop procrastinating, set measurable, achievable goals to work towards.

When you don’t have a clear path to follow, it’s easy to procrastinate.  When you don’t have a destination to work towards, you can feel confused, stuck, and powerless, which causes procrastination.

To stop procrastinating, focus on your goals.  Set small but achievable goals that include your objectives and some concrete action steps.

Read my step by step guide to effective goal setting.

4. Take action  

Procrastination causes inaction.  To stop procrastinating, get into action and take that first step.  We often procrastinate because we don’t know the first step to take.  

When you have big goals, the goal may be bigger than the previous goals you’ve achieved.  The goal may feel scary and out of reach.  This causes procrastination as you lack the confidence to take the first step. 

This kind of procrastination causes overwhelm, confusion, and a feeling of being stuck.  If you feel this way, you will procrastinate and put off starting as you don’t know the first step to take. 

To stop procrastinating, get clear on the outcome you want and lay out the first step you can take.  Then commit to taking action. 

5. Get organised 

Part of the reason we procrastinate is that we find work overwhelming and don’t feel in control of our time.  To stop procrastinating, bring your mind back to the present moment and look at what you can control. 

When you have a present focus, you can get a handle on procrastination.  When you are present, you can get organised and break your tasks down into small action steps you can take right now.  

We procrastinate when we focus on the enormity of our goals rather than the parts of the goal.  To stop procrastinating, break your goals down into bite-size chunks with measurements and deadlines. 

Planning your week in advance will help you stop procrastinating. 

6. Eliminate distractions 

If you want to stop procrastinating, minimise distractions.  Distractions cause us to procrastinate.  Lack of motivation and confidence can create distraction and procrastination.    

When we’re not clear why we’re doing what we’re doing, we get distracted and find less important things to do.  Distraction causes procrastination.

To stop procrastinating, gain clarity on what you’re trying to achieve and understand the difference achieving that result will make.  When you’re engaged in the outcome you want to achieve, you’re more likely to stop procrastinating.  

The next time you procrastinate, ask yourself why you’re doing the thing you’re doing.  Get clear on the result you want.  This motivation will help you overcome procrastination. 

Get my proven tips to help you eliminate distractions 

7. Cut your to-do list

We procrastinate when we have too much on our minds and too much going on.  When we’re not clear where to focus our time and energy, we procrastinate.  To stop procrastinating, cut back your to-do list, giving you a smaller number of activities to do each day.  

A long to-do list without clear priorities causes procrastination.  By simplifying your to-do list to three or four tasks, you can avoid procrastination and free up your energy and focus.  

If left unchecked, a long to-do list will constantly distract you from reaching your goals and cause you to procrastinate.  Procrastination creates complexity which makes it harder to get clear on the next step to take.

Read more about how to work smarter, not harder

8. Create an accountability structure 

We often procrastinate because we don’t know what to do or how to take action.  To stop procrastinating, build an accountability structure to get into action.  When we feel confused, isolated, or powerless, we procrastinate.  

Accountability is essential to stay focused and on track.  Having an accountability structure can come in different forms – coaching, peer groups, friends, accountability partners, mastermind groups, or mentors. 

Having someone to help you get clear on your goals, understand the obstacles you face, and help you build strategies to overcome them will help you stop procrastinating.

If you want to learn how to stop procrastinating, identify an exciting project, find an accountability partner and take that first step to start that project today. 

Read more about the benefits of accountability coaching.

Conclusion

If you want to stop procrastinating, you first need to set better goals and prioritise your most important work to increase your motivation and focus.  Setting better goals will help you identify the obstacles you face enabling you to create strategies to overcome procrastination.

If you want to stop procrastinating, look at the bigger picture, so you don’t get overwhelmed and distracted in the present moment.  You can stop procrastinating when you create a better to-do list, plan your day, and limit your focus to your biggest priorities. 

Use these eight proven tips to stop procrastinating once and for all. 

Now I’d love to hear from you.

What one thing causes procrastination for you? 

What one thing do you do to stop procrastinating? 

Let me know in the comments.

Procrastination articles

Still procrastinating? 5 ways to overcome procrastination

How to defeat perfectionism: 4 simple ways

Overwhelmed at work? 7 Strategies to beat stress

5 Ways to Leverage Time to Increase Productivity 

About the Author

Mark Pettit is a time management and accountability coach based in Colchester, Essex, UK.  He is the Founder of time management coaching company Lucemi Consulting.

Mark provides time management coaching programs and accountability coaching programs to entrepreneurs and leaders in London, Essex, Suffolk, East Anglia and throughout the UK, US and Canada.

Get more articles, tips and tools to help you stop procrastinating on the blog.

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