5 ways to stop procrastinating

Laura Sugden
Well-being & Health Coach

We’ve all been there. A full to-do list and yet we find ourselves knee-deep in any task except the one we actually need to be doing. But how do we stop procrastinating and get things done?

Is procrastination a lack of motivation? Or are you maybe a bit scared of the outcome? Some put procrastination down to laziness,  or it could be that people who procrastinate have a skewed concept of time—lessening their sense of urgency. If that was the only reason though, figuring out how to stop procrastinating would be easier.

The overarching reasons for procrastination are self-preservation and avoiding distress—leading to task aversion. This is often because we view a task as boring, tedious, or too difficult.

The irony in avoiding things though, is that procrastinating actually causes more distress in the long run. It can result in chronic stress and health issues; causes issues with mental performance, impaired sleep and lowering self-esteem.

We’ve really got to start avoiding avoidance.

How to stop procrastinating? The answer to overcoming perpetual avoidance is to fix your mindset. Do that first, and productivity will follow. 

1. Are you thinking the worst?

Catastrophizing is one of the biggest reasons we avoid doing things. The act of building something up to be bigger, scarier, and more difficult than it actually is. In reality though - even if it’s dull or arduous, the task itself won’t cause you any issues, but not doing it might. So get real, and tell yourself firmly that even though you might not enjoy it, you can get through it. Do it for your health.

2. Why are you putting it off?

Instead of placing your focus on reasons not to do something, try to reframe your thoughts to reflect the benefits of actually doing the task. Imagine how you’ll feel once it’s done. If it’s filing, think of the mental and physical space you’ll create; if it’s starting a new workout routine, think of all the extra energy you’ll have afterwards.

3. Sort out your surroundings

Any and all distractions can lead to a bout of procrastination. That includes whatsapp notifications, emails, instagram - you name it. It’s sort of weirdly expected that everyone’s “on” at all times - but you’ll be amazed at how much you get done in a distraction-free period of time. (Trust me on this, during my couple of phone-free days last week, I got more done than I usually do in a week. True story.)

This also goes for your working space. Clutter, snacks and even chatty coworkers can all be diverting to the procrastination-prone. Try to set yourself up in a quiet, clean, calm space - even if it’s not for a full day.

4. Bitesize chunks = fullsize results

Dodge overwhelm by breaking a mammoth task down into small chunks that you can complete within a certain time-frame. This will make the task feel more palatable, and keep you organised at the same time.

5. Treat yo’self

Yep, just like rewarding a kid for eating their greens with a trip to the park, you can reward yourself with something similar after getting your task done. This is an interesting way of using your usual procrastination tools to motivate you instead. Make it so you can only go for a coffee, or watch the next episode of your latest Netflix binge after the task is complete.

Now that you’re a motivation machine—why not maximize your mornings too? Try this 3-step morning routine for a productive day.