Why can’t I stop procrastinating?
Why do I procrastinate to begin with?
If you have ever wondered this, you are not alone. Studies show that 25% of adults consider procrastinating to be a defining trait for them and 80 to 95% of college students procrastinate to some degree.
If you are one of the many who has ever wondered how to stop procrastinating, then keep reading for more information about procrastination and how to address it.
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The first thing that is important to note is that procrastination is not laziness. There is a big difference between the two. A lazy person does not do anything and is okay with it.
Someone who procrastinates wants to do what they are supposed to do but struggles to get started.
Before you can understand how to not procrastinate, you must first understand why you are procrastinating. There are a couple of ways to look at procrastination. You can look at it from the types of procrastination or the behavioral aspect.
When looking at the types, you have passive procrastinators and active procrastinators. Passive procrastinators delay completing tasks because they struggle to make a decision and act on it.
Active procrastinators delay tasks on purpose. They do this because they feel like working under pressure helps to motivate them and challenge them. You will see some of these traits in the behavioral aspects of procrastination as well.
The perfectionist wants to complete the task but they are scared. The fear comes from a place of worrying that they will not be able to complete the task perfectly. Therefore, they put the task off. Dreamer
The dreamer is great at making grand plans. However, when it comes down to it, they struggle with the details and making it happen. This type of procrastinator’s real struggle is taking their dreams and making them a reality.
The worrier loves their comfort zone. Making changes or decisions is scary because it pushes you out of your comfort zone. So instead of doing what you know needs to be done, you procrastinate.
This type of person loves working under pressure. This is the person who will start and finish their paper the night before it is due. They feel they work better under pressure.
This type of person tends to take on too much. Once they have done this, they struggle with knowing where to start. Because they are struggling to set priorities and do not have enough time, they procrastinate.
There are various ways that people will justify their behavior when procrastinating. However, keep in mind, one of the many synonyms for “justify” is “excuse.”
I Have Something Else to Do
When you are supposed to be writing a report that is due soon, it is easy to remember the 20 other things you have on your to-do list. Before you know it, you are doing the dishes and making the calls you have been putting off.
When a task stresses you out, it is easy to avoid it by finding things to do that take your mind off the stress. However, ultimately you end up more stressed because your time is reduced to complete the task you should have prioritized first.
I Deserve a Break
Breaks are great. They give us time to refresh and rejuvenate before we dive into the task at a hand. The problem is when that break to watch a few minutes of your favorite TV show becomes hours.
Procrastinators can abuse breaks making them too long or too frequent. You pull out your materials, time for a break, you read the first page, time for a snack, you write the first paragraph, time for something to drink, and so forth.
The next thing you know, your break has turned into a party in front of the TV with the latest cheesy Hallmark movie.
I Do Not Have Enough Information
You may need to talk to your boss, professor, coworker, or group member for more information. That could be valid. However, are there parts of whatever you should be working on that you can do without that information?
The answer is likely, yes. My Focus Is Broken
Struggling to focus is a great way to excuse procrastinating. Because there is no way that anyone can fault you for that. Right?
Wrong. What is pulling your focus? Do you need to remove distractions such as Facebook, loud roommates, or the TV?
If it is your thoughts that are pulling your focus, how can you handle them? A great way to deal with distracting thoughts is through the practice of mindfulness.
I Am Not Inspired
Curses, your muse up and ran away! You can wait for her or him to return, but the better choice is to just get started. Many times when you are struggling with motivation, it can be difficult to be inspired.
However, as you start completing the task and getting into it, inspiration can strike. Your muse, who previously decided they wanted to procrastinate by taking a break, returns and you find your inspiration.
I Have Plenty Of Time
Rephrase that please: “I have time now.” You can keep putting your project off; however, you will eventually run out of time.
There are only so many tomorrows you can push your task to. Plus, Murphy’s law states that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. You finally sit down to complete your task, and there is an emergency or your computer decides that today is the day to die.
I Do Not Know Where to Start
Sometimes when you look at a large task, it can feel overwhelming. Tasks such as writing an article on procrastination can become difficult because you do not know where to start.
That is a valid feeling. However, starting somewhere is better than not starting. Build an outline, break your task down into smaller tasks, and make a to-do list.
This will help you feel the task is more manageable and help you get started when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Negative Consequences Of Procrastination
If you ultimately get it done, what is the big deal? Procrastination can have many negative effects on your life. These can range from psychosocial to physical effects.
When you procrastinate, you lose time that you could have spent doing something else. You spend so much time thinking about what you should be doing and avoiding doing it that the time spent procrastinated is not refreshing or productive. It is simply lost time.
Sometimes you spend so much time procrastinating that by the time you complete the task, the opportunity is gone. For example, say you want to apply for a scholarship, once the deadline passes, your chance is gone.
If you wait too long to apply for a job, by the time you apply, the position could already be filled. Many opportunities in life are time-limited, and procrastinating can quickly run your clock down.
Do Not Reach Goals
This is especially true of the dreamer. Having goals is great. However, until you can turn your goals into action, you will not reach them.
Ruin Your Career
Jobs come with quotas and deadlines. If you are consistently procrastinating and missing those quotas and deadlines, it is going to impact you at work. You could miss out on promotions, raises, bonuses, or even be fired.
Sometimes those who struggle with procrastination can already struggle with their self-esteem. They do not feel they have the skills or ability to complete their task, so they procrastinate.
However, procrastination can make any existing issues with self-esteem worse. You feel guilty because you are procrastinating and then your head begins to fill with negative self-talk which impacts your self-esteem.
You have procrastinated and procrastinated. You are now rushed. You complete your project and turn it in, but because you were rushed, you made some poor decisions.
These decisions ultimately impact your grade or how your boss views your work.
Procrastination gets noticed. Your friends, boss, teachers, etc. will notice. Even if they see your potential, they will not be able to trust that you can fulfill that potential.
Because your work is always rushed, it is missing elements or is not as good as it should be, and that impacts how others view you.
It may be difficult to believe that something like procrastination can have health risks, but it does. Procrastination can lead to high stress levels, depression, and anxiety. Each of these mental health concerns come with their own risk of creating physical health concerns.
Procrastination can also impact your health if you put off getting medical attention or picking up medication.
How to Stop Procrastinating
Just stop procrastinating! If it were that easy, though, you probably would have already done it. There are some great ways that you can learn to stop procrastinating.
However, remember that procrastinating did not become a habit overnight. Building new habits will take time and effort. The most important thing is to not procrastinate building new habits that help you stop procrastinating.
Understand How You Procrastinate
To learn how to avoid procrastination, you must first understand how you procrastinate. This involves taking a closer look at yourself and acknowledging your procrastination habits.
Do you tend to take breaks? Or make other excuses? Understanding how you procrastinate can help you tackle the problem head-on.
Know the Reason You Procrastinate
Are you procrastinating because you are a perfectionist? Or are you procrastinating because you are an overdoer? It is important to know the behavior that drives your procrastination.
Knowing the behavior helps you identify how to change the behavior. If you are a perfectionist, then keeping your tasks small could help. If you are an overdoer, then setting boundaries and learning to say no, so you do not become overwhelmed, could help.
Create a Plan
Once you understand why and how you procrastinate you can begin creating a plan. Your plan should directly address the habits you have. This means that no two plans will look the same.
There are many different tips and tricks you can use to combat procrastination. The important thing is deciding which ones will be the most effective for you.
This method will be important for every type of procrastinator. However, it will be very important for the dreamer. Setting tangible goals with time limits will help to be able to plan things out.
As you set your goals, make sure they are realistic and achievable. If you set the bar too high, you will become discouraged quickly.
Lower the Bar
This tip is especially important for the perfectionist. Remember you are not writing the next great American novel, well, unless you are.
However, since most are not, acknowledge it for what it is. It can be difficult when your anxiety drives you to obtain perfection consistently. Some tasks will require more mental energy than others.
Create timelines for yourself and stick to them. If you are in a position where it is up to you to make sure that you get things done on time, then treat your time scheduled for your project as non-negotiable.
Use a calendar and write your project into the calendar at a specific time. If you prefer to go digital, set alarms on your phone. This is going to be your time to accomplish your tasks; give that time priority.
This tip is going to be important for every type of procrastinator; however, it may apply to the thrill-seeker just a bit more. The thrill-seeker is going to want to push things off to the last minute, so setting times will help.
If you are meeting your goals and getting things done without procrastinating, reward yourself. Whether you go grab some Starbucks or let yourself take a few minutes to relax, it can help retrain your brain.
When you do not procrastinate, relaxing and taking care of yourself can be appreciated. When you procrastinate, that time is spent stressing that you should be doing something else.
Mindfulness is a great practice that can help keep you present in the moment. This tip is especially important for the worrier.
If you are constantly worrying about the what-ifs that come with change, then you will never accomplish anything. Change is an inevitable part of life. Take the time to breathe and push forward, because sometimes change can be good.
Find an Accountability Partner
Worried you will not be able to stick to your goals? Ask for help. There is nothing wrong with getting help and someone to hold you accountable.
Sometimes knowing that someone is going to ask if you did what you said you were going to do is enough to push you to do it. If you still procrastinate and do not accomplish your task, then an accountability partner can help talk you through why and how to change your plan so it can work for you.
Get Rid Of Distractions
Distractions encourage procrastination. You should be writing a paper but instead, you got distracted 20 minutes ago by a YouTube video that your best friend sent you.
That one video then turned into two and then three or more. Distractions can fall into many categories. If you find yourself staring out the window at your neighbors, then find a place where you will not have visual distractions.
If you struggle with notifications from your phone or computer distracting you, then turn off the notifications. Turn off the TV. If you cannot focus with the music on, then turn off the music.
Whatever is distracting you, get rid of it. It is all about getting in the zone. Do not make excuses.
Make a Checklist
Maybe you have heard of people who love their checklists and you just do not get it. However, it is satisfying to check items off the list.
As you make your checklist, break things down into small pieces. This helps you be able to check things off the list faster and makes you feel you are accomplishing a lot.
When you feel like you are being productive and reaching your goals, it is encouraging. This makes you want to continue doing so.
Break the Task Down
This part of your plan is especially for the overdoers. However, it can be important for everyone. When there is a lot to do, it can quickly become overwhelming.
Take it one step at a time. If you are writing a paper, start by creating an outline. Create headers and then start filling each header in one at a time.
If you have multiple things you need to research, tackle one thing at a time. If you try to handle too many things at once, it will overwhelm you, and that is when procrastination takes place.
Know Your Energy Cycle
Are you a morning person? An afternoon person? Or maybe you are a night owl?
While it is not always possible to do things in the time that works best for you, when it is, do it. If you know you are most productive at night, then set yourself up to do your work during that time frame.
Know what needs to be done at what time, and then prioritize your tasks. You can also try breaking up your tasks by how difficult they are.
If you try to focus too long, your brain can quickly start feeling as laggy as a computer with a bad internet connection. Start with a task that may feel heavier; when that is done, do something easy.
Continue switching on and off so that you are accomplishing difficult tasks but not overwhelming yourself.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
It is easy to listen to your brain when it tells you that you are not good enough. However, one of the best ways to fight procrastination is by combatting those thoughts.
Positive self-talk has many benefits in your life. When you are experiencing negative thoughts, replace them with positive ones.
If your brain tells you that you will fail, then you tell yourself all the reasons you will succeed. Sometimes the best pep talk can come from yourself.
When you are feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, then procrastinating becomes easier. As a student or employee, it is very easy to get to that point if you do not take care of yourself.
Self-care is doing the things that take care of you mentally and physically. It is easy to believe that you do not have the time to practice self-care, but in reality, you do not have the time to not take care of yourself.
There are some things you can do daily that can help you. However, to do these things you must build them into your schedule.
When you wake up in the morning, take the time to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Do not drink it on the run but sit and appreciate it.
Feeling stressed during your day? Take a few minutes and turn on some music and have a mini dance party. If you have to hide in the bathroom to have your party, go for it!
At the end of your day, take the time to recognize the good from the day. It is so easy to get entrenched in the negative. Remembering the good can help put you in a more positive place.
Stop Procrastinating Now
Procrastinating can come from many different places and have many different reasons. However, there are ways that you can combat procrastination and be a healthier person because you did.
Now that you know how to stop procrastinating, keep reading for more tips and tricks on how to effectively manage your time.