How to overcome procrastination

“I’ll think about it tomorrow”: what is procrastination and how to stop postponing life for later?

Procrastination is the constantpostponement of important tasks for later. People who procrastinatecannotstart doingthe work, which is trulyimportant; instead,they make themselves busy with some petty, unimportant tasks. Procrastination can often be accompanied bypanic attacks, neurosis and suicidal thoughts. The dangers of procrastination also include poor quality of work and high levels of stress. Insufficient attention paid to the task and the inability to track all the details are then reflected in the qualityof the result. Moreover,this happens not because procrastinators do their job poorly, but because theyspendtoo little time performingit. Procrastination is not about rest or laziness at all. It is about some psychological problems, which make us put off important tasks until it’s too late to perform them sufficiently whichoften leads to feelingof guilt.Among the causes of procrastination are lack of interest in work, anxiety due to the completion of the task, acquired procrastination, perfectionism, procrastinationas a protective mechanism and justification of ourown inaction.

Lack of interest in the task:

This is manifestedvery often: a person puts off a certain job because it is uninteresting, boring, not satisfying. In psychology,there is no concept of laziness. If a person does not want to do something,there must bereasons for that, whichare worth looking for. It often turns out that people donot always fit into the deadlinesbecause a certain field of activity is boringfor them, or they haveburned out or outgrown. What to dowith it is the next question and to admit the problem is already the beginning of a solution.


In each case, it manifests itself very individually, but you should ask yourself: “What is there in this task that scares me?”

Systemic (acquired) procrastination:

happens whencertain patterns of behavior are regularly maintained in the family or team. For example, when a manager gives a task and then it turns out that the task did not need to be performed. Then, firstly, the motivation disappears, and secondly, the reflex “to postpone the task for later, because it can be canceled” is formed.In the family, systemic or acquired procrastination may be manifested in the fact that parentsgive the taskbut then immediately begin to perform itthemselves. This leads tothe acquired helplessness of the child –the belief that he cannot cope with the taskon his own, and in the future may leadto the child unconsciously waitingthatsomeone else, more experienced,will do all the important tasksfor him.


“I’ll start when I finish another course”, “I need more experience in this field”, “I’ll be able to do it when I get another degree” -the most common signs of procrastination due toperfectionism. The person has an affirmation “do either perfectly or do not do at all”. However,often it does not work outbecause there are always reasons for manyimperfections: the conditions might get in the way(maternity leave, the season is depressing) or the lack of knowledge (requires a certain degree). Then when you start studying andgainthe knowledge there is a lack of experience, and when you getthe experience you need highly specialized skills,and so on.

Protective mechanism:

Procrastination can be the body’s response to fatigue. In modern society, we see a crazy cult of achievement. When you need to feed a child, run a marathon andgive instructions to your subordinates at the same timebecause you have a huge business, and mostimportantly –you mustn’t get tiredbecause it somehow does not look very nice. This applies to both women and men. A person may not notice that procrastination is a request of the body “I need to rest.” When a person tries to squeeze another course into his life, and his brain tells him: “Oh, what an interesting video about a duck and here’s a new trailer you have to watch.” The nervous system restsin such a way.

Justification of inaction:

Often people do not even try to do something, calling themselves procrastinators. “I’m such a person, I’m procrastinating” is the opposite of those people who are trying to reach more and more. People have faced procrastination at all times. Even Greek and Roman philosophers complained about this phenomenon in the highest echelons of power. There is probably not a single person on the planet who has never put something off.

How to overcome procrastination?Admit that the problem exists.

Sometimes it’snot easy, but it’s necessary anyway. Then it is necessary to divide work into processes and to understand where you slip. “Maybe I’m slowing down at some specific stage: I like to cook, but I hate washing dishes, I like to clean, but I can’t stand wiping dust”, and so on.

Divide and delegate:

Any work can be divided into stages. When you clearly realizethat this giant “elephant” consists of small puzzles that you can handle, it becomes not so scary.

Remove distractions:

Today, people have more distractions than ever before -from social media, news, e-mail to traditional calls or conversations in the office. So, the first part should be removed by willpower -say, for an hour. That is, you tell your brain: “Let’sconcentrate well for an hour and when we completea part of the plannedworkthere will be time for social networks, and then we’ll work again,” and you work at this pace.

Find the purpose inthe activity:

There are some things, whichcannot be avoided and delegated. You justshould tellyourself: “I do it because…” That is, you clearly know that this bitter pill will help you, so you need to swallow it quickly -and move on to your goal. However,here the main thing is to have a balance. Because if all the work becomes a “bitter pill” and brings nothing but negativity, then it is time to change something in your life.

Procrastination as part of the work:

You can try this method asan experiment -to perceive the postponement of work as part of the workingprocess. Admit to yourself that you still postpone the task, so have fun with it. How exactly? Let’s say you have a week to create a presentation (product, project, report, etc.) but you know from previous experience that you can do it in two days. This means thatyou can rest peacefully for five days –andwork only for twodays.

What is the main problem of procrastinators?

They put something off, and then,all the time until it’s done, they live in some kind of hell: “I can’t go for a walk with friends because I have to work,” “I can’t watch this movie because I don’t have time for it,” ” I will not go to bed until I finish this work. “Therefore,instead of blaming yourself for inaction and increasing the feeling of guilt -just set yourself a specific deadline and a specific day. We often create prohibitions for ourselves: “Until I do this and that -I will not go anywhere on vacation / I will not go to the museum / I will not watch a movie.” However,you can “hack” the system, admitting that you will do the planned not only before, but also after rest, which will increase both the quality of rest and the quality of work performed.

Students, for example, may have a fear of presenting their diploma paperor a fear of theunknown future that opens up after graduation.

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