Learning how to stop procrastinating will change your life

You know the scene–you have a challenging task ahead of you, so you avoid thinking about it until the last minute. You sit down to finally do the task, and you become distracted by checking emails, Instagram feeds, ANYTHING that keeps you from actually doing the task.

Sound familiar?

Ruminating about doing something challenging is 10 times worse than actually doing it!

Where does procrastination come from?

At its core, procrastination is avoidance. We usually avoid things that are challenging because of fear, self-doubt, anxiety, or low self-confidence. When we are anxious or fearful, our emotions and behavior are hard to regulate, so we end up doing everything we can to avoid the “spinning” sensation and distract ourselves with something more fun and mindless. We fall prey to pesky instant gratification to soothe ourselves, but the problem is that procrastinating only makes the anxiety worse. It doesn’t go away. We just numb it, and then it comes back stronger!

Read on to learn how to stop procrastinating and change your life

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Helpful hints for how to stop procrastinating

  • Think of the reward. Try reminding yourself about how good it will feel when you finally check that item off your list. Ruminating about doing something is 10 times harder than actually doing it, and when you finally finish the task, you’ll feel great! 
  • Give yourself compassion. Many times, we actually feel bad about procrastinating. We beat ourselves up so much that we procrastinate even more. Try acknowledging how hard it is to get started and then say some encouraging phrases to yourself to get motivated. Read here about self-compassion and the growth mindset.
  • Avoid the “When I Feel Like It” trap. There will never be a time when you feel like doing something you’re avoiding. Don’t fall into that trap.
  • Break the task up into digestible parts. My dad used the phrase “One bite at a time” to remind me to make a difficult task a lot easier for myself. Break the task up into smaller tasks, and then get the easiest one checked off your list. You’ll start to feel better as it you make it through, step by step.
  • Don’t multi-task. Research shows that as much as we wish we could multi-task well, we actually don’t do it effectively as humans. Push distractions out of the way, and focus on one small task at a time.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. –Stephen King

Learning to stop procrastinating can change your life by allowing you to place all that ruminating energy elsewhere. You’ll learn to focus on process, not perfection and find that you will persevere.