Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing tasks or actions, often despite knowing the negative consequences of doing so. People who struggle with procrastination often find themselves stuck in a cycle of putting things off until the last minute. This habit leads to increased stress and anxiety. Over time, this habit can negatively impact one’s life, as tasks remain unfinished and goals unachieved.

Procrastination vs Lazy

Procrastination is frequently misinterpreted as laziness, yet these two phenomena significantly differ. Procrastination constitutes an active approach – you consciously opt to execute a different task instead of the one you recognize you ought to be undertaking. Conversely, laziness implies a state of indifference, inertia, and a disinclination to take action.

How to Break the Habit of Procrastination

Recognizing the reasons behind your procrastination is the first step towards overcoming it. You might be avoiding tasks due to doubts about your capabilities, fear of failure, or a preference for tasks you know you can do well. Uncertainty about decision-making may also cause you to delay actions. Interestingly, perfectionists can be habitual procrastinators, preferring to evade tasks they feel they can’t perform flawlessly.

Procrastination is a deeply ingrained behavior pattern, not a trait that can be instantly changed. To change a habit, you must stop practicing it, so experiment with as many of the following strategies as you can:

  1. Absolve yourself for past procrastination. Research indicates that self-forgiveness can foster self-positivity and decrease future procrastination tendencies.
  2. Commit to tasks. Focus on action, not avoidance. Listing tasks that need to be done and scheduling a time for them encourages proactive behavior.
  3. Enlist someone to hold you accountable. The principle behind self-help groups is that peer pressure is effective! If you can’t find a person, consider using an online tool like Procraster for self-monitoring.
  4. Reframe your inner dialogue. Phrases like “need to” or “have to” suggest lack of choice, potentially leading to feelings of disempowerment and self-sabotage. Instead, say “I choose to,” indicating ownership and control over your tasks.

Consider embracing “active procrastination,” where you purposely delay tasks to focus on more urgent ones, resulting in increased motivation and drive. This is especially effective for those who thrive under pressure.

If you’re avoiding a task because it’s unpleasant, focus on the long-term benefits rather than the immediate discomfort. Understanding the task’s significance and relevance can make your work more rewarding and meaningful. Remember, we often overestimate the unpleasantness of a task.

If disorganization is the root of your procrastination, try these six strategies:

  1. Maintain a To-Do list to avoid conveniently forgetting unpleasant tasks.
  2. Handle challenging tasks during your most productive times.
  3. Set specific, time-bound goals to prevent procrastination.
  4. If large projects seem daunting, break them into smaller tasks and concentrate on initiating them rather than completing them.
  5. Begin with small, quick tasks. These “small wins” boost your sense of accomplishment, making the bigger project seem less daunting.
  6. Start the project. Often, the task is not as bad as you anticipated.