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If you want to learn how to stop procrastinating, the first step is to recognise that you’re procrastinating.  The second step is to forgive yourself for procrastinating. 

The more overwhelmed and stressed out by procrastination you are, the harder it will be to stop procrastinating.

In this article I’m going to share the causes of procrastination and show you 8 ways to learn how to stop procrastinating. 

I define procrastination as the act of putting things off, delaying or avoiding important tasks by choosing to do something else less important. 

Procrastination is a habit that can become a consistent pattern of behaviour if left unchecked. 

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

We also procrastinate when tasks seem too daunting or not exciting enough.  If you don’t stop procrastinating,  you can feel stressed, unmotivated and bored.

Learning how to stop procrastinating will help you feel clearer, more confident and more motivated.  Use these strategies to overcome procrastination and take control. 

These steps will help you to deal with and prevent procrastination.

Read also: 5 ways to overcome procrastination

Procrastination meaning 

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

Procrastinating 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 in the first place.  Procrastination is different from laziness because procrastinators choose to do something else, while laziness is the unwillingness to to anything.

Constant procrastination can cause you to always be late with delivering something important or stop you taking action in the first place.

What causes procrastination?  

There are many causes of procrastination. 

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

Procrastination may be caused because the work is boring or unpleasant.  We also procrastinate when we don’t have the capabilities to take on the work.

Procrastination is caused when a deadline is due or an important event is about to happen and they 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.  if you want to stop procrastination you must start with forgiving 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 stop procrastinating, ditch the procrastination guilt and understand why you’re procrastinating in the first place.

Many procrastinators struggle with perfectionism.  If you want to overcome perfectionism, read my guide to overcoming perfectionism.

2. Recognise you’re procrastinating 

An important step to overcoming procrastination is to recognise that you’re procrastinating.  Recognising you’re procrastinating helps you identify the reasons behind the procrastination.

Procrastination often happens when you create an impossible vision of a future you want to create for ourselves or you feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do.  

You may procrastinate because you find work boring and you want to avoid doing it.  

To learn how to stop procrastinating, recognise why you’re procrastinating so you can stop the procrastination cycle.  If you procrastinate for many reasons, eliminate the causes one by one.

3. Set your goals   

An important first step to overcoming your procrastination is to set your goals.

Stop procrastinating by setting goals that excite and motivate you.  It’s easy to procrastinate if you don’t have clarity on your goals and a daily plan to reach them.

We procrastinate because our to-do list seems too daunting or overwhelming.  The way to stop procrastinating is to set measurable, achievable goals to work towards.

When we have no clear path to follow we procrastinate.  When we don’t have a destination to work towards, we can feel confused, stuck and powerless, which causes procrastination.

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

Read my step by step guide to effective goal setting.

4. Take action  

Procrastination causes inaction.  To stop procrastinating, it’s important to 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 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 because 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, however small.  Then commit to taking action. 

Overcome procrastination by focusing on doing the work, not avoiding the work. 

If procrastination is making you feel stuck, read my guide to getting unstuck

5. Get organised 

Part of the reason we procrastinate is because we find work too overwhelming or we don’t feel in control.  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.  You can get organised to start a task by breaking your task down into small action steps you can take right now.  

We procrastinate when we focus on the enormity of our goals rather than the component parts of the goal.  Learn how to stop procrastinating by breaking goals down into bite size chunks with clear measurements and deadlines. 

Planning your week in advance will help you stop procrastinating. 

6. Eliminate distractions 

If you want to stop procrastinating it’s important to 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.  This causes procrastination.

Stop procrastination by getting clarity on what you’re trying to achieve and by understanding the difference achieving that result will make in your life.

When you’re emotionally 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 can help you stop procrastinating. 

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 many things to do. 

When we’re not clear where to focus our time and energy, we procrastinate.  To stop procrastinating, cut back your to-do list so you have a smaller number of activities to do each day.  

A long to-do list without clear priorities can cause you to procrastinate.  By simplifying your to-do list to three or four key 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.  

This procrastination creates more and more complexity which makes it harder to get clarity on the next step to take.

Stop procrastinating by simplifying, and then simplifying some more.  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 for goal success and to help us stop procrastinating.

This accountability can come in different forms including 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 on starting that project now. 

Read more about the benefits of accountability coaching.

Conclusion

You can learn to stop procrastinating. If you want to stop procrastinating get clear on your goals, prioritise your most important work and change your environment to increase your focus.

If you procrastinate, use these tips to learn how to stop procrastinating and be more productive.  When you stop procrastinating you can manage your time, energy and focus better.

You can use this new found focus to start taking action to help you reach your goals quicker and easier, without the stress or procrastination.  

Now I’d love to hear from you.

What one thing causes you to procrastinate the most? 

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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