How To Deal With Procrastination

Last updated on : June 11 2021

Unhappy looking girl procrastinating

Article Summary

Let's dive into what it is that makes us procrastinate. By furthering your understanding of procrastination, why it happens, and how you can address it, you can empower yourself to truly resolve the underlying issues holding you back from a happy, healthy life.

Jump to the section you want by using the links below. 

You Can Beat Procrastination

1. What Is Procrastination?

2. Why Do You Procrastinate?

3. The Negative Effects of Procrastination

4. The Benefits of Overcoming Procrastination

5. How to Stop Procrastinating


You Can Beat Procrastination

When you complete a family responsibility when needed or deliver a project at work before a deadline, you can feel immensely rewarded. Yet, even so, so many of us genuinely struggle with the ability to tend to things on time.

If you're struggling with procrastination — you're not alone. 

Let's dive into what it is that makes so many people procrastinate. By furthering your understanding of procrastination, why it happens, and how you can address it, you can empower yourself to truly resolve the underlying issues holding you back from a happy, healthy life.

1. What Is Procrastination?

It's always helpful to start with a definition

The act of procrastinating involves voluntarily delaying a responsibility or task, even when you know you'll suffer due to the decision. 

Waiting to mow the lawn, even though you know longer grass will clog your mower, is procrastination. So is holding off on writing an essay for school, even though you're well aware that you need a good grade to pass.

2. Why Do You Procrastinate?

Mow lawn

What is interesting to note is that everyone procrastinates. It isn't something that only happens to a few unfortunate individuals. 

However, procrastination becomes a real problem when you make it habitual and chronic.  

But what is it that causes someone to procrastinate? What drives so many to purposefully avoid a task even though they know it's going to cause them stress and struggles in the future? 

A Build-Up Of Tasks?

Often procrastination starts when workloads and tasks build up, mentally creating an imposing issue and a mental strain. This mental block can push you to delay your responsibilities in the name of pursuing something more pleasurable.

And it's this pursuit of pleasure that begins to shine a light on why you can so easily find yourself procrastinating.

B. Bad Time Management?

Often procrastination is connected to the issue of time management.

From parents to children, students to employees, and bosses to freelancers, everyone struggles with the need to manage their time. 

If you've recently made any career or lifestyle shift, like going into freelancing, time management issues may become more prominent until you are used to the changes. 

Therefore, when you can't get something done promptly, it's easy to pin it on the fact that you aren't good at managing your time.

C. Procrastination Is About Emotions 

An increasing body of evidence points out that time management or too many tasks aren't really what's at play here. 

After all, someone who is putting off mowing the lawn on a schedule can often be perfectly capable of turning in a work project on time or vice versa. 

When you procrastinate, you aren't poorly managing the time required to do something. How often does procrastination involve tasks that take two or three minutes? That's hardly an issue of time management. 

Rather than pinning procrastination on a lack of necessary life skills, more and more professionals suggest that it's emotions that are the underlying root cause. 

In other words, poorly managed emotions are likely the root issue associated with willingly avoiding tasks or procrastinating.

As a result, you should consider if each task you're avoiding makes you feel overwhelmed, inferior, bad, or even bored. If there is a negative emotional response connected to tending to a job or assignment, it may endlessly fuel a cycle of procrastination and related stress. 

You see, if a task provides you with negative emotion or stress, you'll look for a short-term distraction to lift your emotional mood, causing you to procrastinate. 

However, this is a short-lived reprieve because you only end up feeling guilty that you dodged your initial responsibility. And this guilt adds to your original stress, and, hey presto, you're even more stressed. 

If left unaddressed, the cycle will likely continue to repeat until you're so low on time that you have to take action.

Do you see this behavior in yourself and know that it's emotions that are the likely driver of your procrastinating? 

3. The Negative Effects of Procrastination

Painting room

The emotional component of procrastination is enlightening because it helps you understand why you act a certain way. It also sheds light on many of the side effects that come from procrastinating. 

For instance, avoiding tasks and responsibilities on purpose often leads to:

● Lower grades and poor professional feedback

● A damaged reputation and missed opportunities

● Higher levels of stress and frustration

● Low self-esteem

● A variety of physical illnesses, including stomach aches, nausea, headaches, and poor sleep

● An increase in anxiety, depression, and panic attacks

● Overall poor workmanship.

By allowing your emotions to drive your procrastination, you open yourself up to a host of mental and physical side effects. Many of these can be extremely destructive when allowed to run rampant over a long time.

4. The Benefits of Overcoming Procrastination

On the other side of the equation, if you can correctly manage your procrastination, you can tap into many positive benefits.

While this is obvious, it's worth running over them, as it can help you maintain perspective and remember what it is that you're fighting for each time tempted to shuffle something off for a later date. 

Overcoming procrastination can help you: 

● Achieve the goals that you set for yourself.

● Build a solid reputation as a trustworthy and dependable individual.

● Gain greater self-control throughout your life.

● Increase your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety.

● Have less work caused by snowballing delays and complications

These are just a handful of the most obvious benefits. There are countless others. The question that remains is how can you tap into these benefits by nipping procrastination in the bud.

5. How to Stop Procrastinating

Hard working hands

Understanding the emotional component of procrastination is a critical aspect in addressing the issue at hand. This understanding must remain clearly in focus as you go about halting habits and finding coping mechanisms. 

With that said, here are a few of the best tools that you can use to help yourself stop procrastinating regularly.

A. Set Up Routines and To-Do Lists

Often you can lose small responsibilities in the shuffle. If you find that you tend to procrastinate smaller activities throughout the day, such as doing the laundry or paying bills, you can address the issue by working them right into your schedule. 

Start by setting up routines. These can help you get going in the morning, slow down before bed, and even stay on track while you're at work or school. 

Integrate small tasks right into your routines so that they become second nature to you

Then, create to-do lists to catch all of the unique, one-off responsibilities that you tend to brush under the rug.

By leaning on routines and regularly visiting your to-do list, it can help you stay on top of your responsibilities over the long-term.

B. Gain a Clear View of Costs and Rewards

Sometimes procrastination comes about through an inability to understand a situation properly. 

For instance, you may be avoiding doing landscaping around your house because you're tired and you'd rather watch television. 

While this may be a legitimate decision, it's worth breaking down the costs and rewards of landscaping to see if emotional procrastination is playing into your decision.

It's easy to see landscaping as a rewardless activity that requires time and money. However, make an effort to step back and break down the priorities of your landscaping activities.

Are you avoiding an expensive task? Is it a challenging project? Will it take a lot of time or involve a high level of risk? 

Then ask yourself why you planned the activity in the first place. Are you merely trying to garden for your fun? If so, you can likely ignore it without significant consequences. 

Or are you trying to improve the curb appeal of your home before an open house? In that case, you're going to want to move the activity to the front of your list.

C. Address Stress

Procrastination may be a root cause of building stress, but that doesn't mean it's the only stressor in your life. On the contrary, taking time to address stress is a great way to help you avoid procrastinating. 

Meditating and praying, unplugging, socializing, exercising, and other de-stressors are great ways to boost your energy level and help you focus.

If your procrastination is mood-related, de-stressing is also an excellent way to help you maintain perspective and stay positive as you tend to your various responsibilities.

D. Build In Rewards

The battle against procrastination shouldn't turn you into a workaholic. On the contrary, as you accomplish various things, it's also a good idea to reward yourself for a task well done.  

These rewards can consist of indulging in a hobby, learning something new, or only getting some sleep. 

The best part is that all of those activities are also great ways to improve your mental health, which reduces stress and makes it that much easier to perpetuate an anti-procrastination cycle.


You said tomorrow yesterday

Procrastination isn't a life skill failure. It's an emotional reaction. As such, it's essential to recognize that you're avoiding things due to how you feel about them. 

Rather than allowing procrastination to add unnecessary stress and strain to your life, please take steps to address it today in the name of a healthier, happier tomorrow.

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