An Expert's Guide On How To Stop Procrastinating

Stop putting off that project, and get started.

Do you have a project at work or home that you keep putting off? Don’t be embarrassed –  everyone does. Today we’re talking about why we procrastinate and some strategies we can use to help take action and get things done.

There are 2 main reasons why we procrastinate:

  1. You don’t want to do that thing. Plain and simple. It’s boring, or tedious, or just generally not fun. Fixing this is often just a matter of creating some external accountability. For instance, if you have trouble getting to the gym, buy a class that you want to try. This way, you want to go to the class to make sure you get your money’s worth.
  2. You really DO want to do that thing but you feel overwhelmed. This one’s a bit trickier to tackle, since we can get overwhelmed for different reasons.

We can be overwhelmed because the thing we’re avoiding is large.

If you love the hit of serotonin you get when checking off your to-do list, you probably struggle with large projects, since that completion high is so far off in the distance. If this is you, it can help to break tasks down into smaller, bite-sized pieces of work, and set smaller milestones than just finishing the whole project. These help you to feel like you’re making progress (and you are!) even if you aren’t done yet. It also helps you get out of the mindset of completion being the only victory – progress is a win too!

We can also be overwhelmed because the thing we’re avoiding is new or intimidating.

Shoutout to all of the perfectionists! Many people don’t like to try something if they’re not sure if they’ll knock it out of the park. If you’re easily frustrated, this might be you as well. For this type of procrastinator, focus on increments of time as milestones instead of completion of steps. The reason you should do this is that perfectionists often underestimate the amount of time it will take to do something. Then they feel like a failure for taking so long, even if the product is perfect! So if this is you, set aside an hour and get to work on your task, then see where you’re at.

Know your procrastination red flags.

So how do we avoid procrastination? One way is to notice what your go-to methods of procrastination are. This can look like snacking, organizing things that don’t really matter, making lists, browsing social media, or anything, really! When you notice yourself procrastinating with these things, ask yourself why you feel overwhelmed and then choose the appropriate hack to get started (external accountability, smaller bites, or increments of time as milestones).