How to Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination is something that plagues many of us at some time or another.  The biggest problem with procrastination is if you become a chronic procrastinator.

There’s a common misconception that procrastinators are lazy people.  Unfortunately, procrastination is a deeper problem than simply being lazy though.

It’s more another form of anxiety that is learned over time through habit.  Sometimes it’s only a small problem in regards to certain situations but it can also get out of hand and become a default mode of thinking.

The good news though is like any habit – good or bad, they can be learned and unlearned as well.

So if you have a problem with procrastination getting in the way of reaching your goals, keep reading to learn more about what procrastination is, and how to deal with procrastination.

Why Do I Keep Procrastinating?

If you’ve ever wondered why you keep procrastinating, again remember that procrastination is often a learned habit.

If this is the case with you then the answer is quite simple.  It’s your go-to action.

Of course, there are likely certain situations that encourage or nurture procrastination though.

Quite often people procrastinate when they are stressed or tired or simply overwhelmed.  If you are a regular meditator.

This can often be the case with procrastinating at work.  Maybe the task ahead seems so large and overwhelming that you simply put it off.

Procrastination Is a Form of Avoidance

As avoidance is a core behaviour in many anxiety disorders, it’s no surprise to learn that procrastination is also just a form of avoidance.

The task at hand – be it a large work task, or cleaning the house, or getting started on some exercise often seems overwhelming which creates anxiety even if it doesn’t manifest itself physically.

The problem with avoidance though, just like in most anxiety disorders is it keeps the cycle going.  While you might receive short-term comfort putting the task off, quite often you will suffer more long-term discomfort.

Perspective and Awareness

If you are a regular meditator, you will no doubt be aware of the benefits meditation provides in respect to perspective and awareness.

These can be very useful tools for overcoming procrastination.  Firstly, by simply being aware of what procrastination is like we have been discussing you are more empowered.

It’s not some big bad beast that cannot be overcome.  It’s simply a behaviour, nothing more and nothing less, and behaviours only have as much control as we allow them to have.

The second part of awareness is being aware of your own emotions, and not reacting to them.  When you need to tackle an overwhelming task, or you are simply tired or stress just be aware of this feeling.

Everybody is tired, anxious or stressed sometimes and that is okay.  Just be aware of how you truly feel and label it without judgement.

Defuse Your Mind

Defusion is a big part of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and a great tool for tackling anxiety as discussed in The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris and DARE by Barry McDonagh.

But there is another great book called the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.  This too is a form of defusion which is especially useful for procrastination.

When you have the desire to tackle a work task or go to the gym or anything else you simply count backwards from 5 and then take action.

That’s it, simple.  This technique works well and I use it personally most days with a variety of tasks.

By counting backwards from 5 you give the mind something to do before the reason giving machine decides to interject with why it’s a bad idea.

An example of this in practice is with my morning showers I never want to get out.  The water is so warm and relaxing and it’s always one of the first big tasks of the day.  So I simply say 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1 and press the tap in to shut off the water.

The hardest part is always starting so once you’ve taken action, momentum will usually carry you through further than you think.

Let’s Chat

Do you have trouble with procrastinating too?  I’d love to hear more about your experience with procrastination and any advice you have.

Share below with a comment below and start the conversation!

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