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The 6 Healthy Habits I Used to Beat Procrastination: You Can Do it Too

By Tatenda

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Last Updated: July 6, 2022

“My advice is, never do to-morrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!” ― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Do you ever find yourself with a long to-do list and no willpower to actually do anything?

Are you always pushing things on your schedule and telling yourself that you ‘will’ do them in the future rather than just doing them? 

Well, guess what!? You’re not alone. Studies have indicated that 15% -20% of adults are chronically affected by procrastination. 25% of adults consider procrastination as one of their personality traits. 

I also used to be one of those people until the day I told myself that I had had enough and needed to actually start getting things done. The steps I took after making this decision weren’t necessarily easy. But they had to be done!

Before I jump into what I did to beat procrastination, let me start off by explaining what procrastination is. 

 

 

What is Procrastination?

The term 'procrastination' has roots in the Latin language.

It comes from two Latin words, pro- and crastinus and it directly translates to ‘put things off until tomorrow’. 

Procrastination refers to the practice of constantly putting aside and delaying tasks until the last minute and sometimes until even past the deadline. 

While some people confuse procrastination with laziness or believe that the two terms are interchangeable, that is not really the case.

Someone who procrastinates always ends up having everything done. They might be late, but they will do it. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about a lazy someone. 

Moreover, procrastination may be because one is anxious, feeling overwhelmed, disconnected from their future selves or they want everything to be perfect so they won’t start unless they know that it will be perfect. On the other hand, laziness is because one is lazy.

Personally, I lacked motivation and was scared of failure. When I had work to do, I would all of a sudden see the need to clean up my room, tidy the whole apartment, do meal preps and do anything else besides the work that I am supposed to do. 

After some personal evaluation, I realized that I was stuck in a cycle that was damaging to my future self.

I realized that I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. Self-sabotaging and taking longer to achieve my goals, I was constantly under pressure because I never did anything on time. 

 

 

6 Habits I Used to Beat Procrastination

I told myself I needed to change. These are the ways I used to beat procrastination. I hope they can also help you to become more productive!

 

1. Acknowledge that you are procrastinating.

Just like with most things, the first step to beating procrastination is to acknowledge it.

At the end of each day or week, look back at your productivity and pattern of getting things done. If you notice that you are often putting things aside until the next minute, you might be procrastinating. 

This realization might make you frustrated but you need to remember that procrastination is normal and common. You shouldn’t beat yourself about it. Be kind to yourself and realize that you are doing something about the problem.

 

2. Get to the root cause of the problem.

Now that you know that you procrastinate, the next step is to figure out why.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several reasons why one can procrastinate. Determining the root cause will help you deal with the problem from its roots. 

You might realize that you avoid tasks because they are boring. In this case, it might be helpful to deal with the boring tasks first and then move to the more interesting ones.

You could be procrastinating because you don’t know where to start. This could be solved by breaking down your tasks into smaller and easier-to-achieve bits. 

Some of the common  root causes of procrastination include: 

  • Health issues
  • Stress
  • Low self-confidence
  • Perfectionism
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to start
  • Fatigue 
  • All or nothing mentality 
  • Psychological conditions like ADHD and depression

 

3. Hold yourself accountable/ find an accountability partner.

I found it easier to get my work done when I joined a writing support group.

We would meet weekly and write down our weekly goals and see if we have accomplished our goals for the previous week. Answering to someone as to why I wasn’t able to accomplish my goals pushed me to work hard and ensure that I’ve achieved all my goals. 

 

4. Break your tasks down.

Five small tasks seem more achievable in comparison to one big one.

Having one big thing on my to-do list always made me anxious and I never knew where to start. 

Breaking the task down gave me some structure that I needed and allowed me to easily work through my tasks. When I looked at my to-do list which has a series of small goals, I felt less overwhelmed and confident that I could be productive. 

 

5. Commit to what you’re working on and avoid multitasking.

Multitasking might seem like the order of the day but once I stopped doing it, I realized that I was getting more done more efficiently.

Focusing on one task until it is complete means my brain does not have to constantly switch between two or more tasks. 

I got satisfaction from ticking things off my to-do list knowing that they have been completed to the best standard possible. 

 

6. Rephrase your thoughts.

Procrastination starts with your thoughts.

Therefore, rephrasing your thoughts allows you to view your tasks from a different and more motivating perspective. Develop and uphold a positivity mentality. 

One great way to develop a positive outlook on life is to start your day with some positive affirmations.

 

 

Final Thoughts on Habits to Beat Procrastination

Procrastination can be a big hindrance to your ability to achieve goals and progress in life. The moment you realize the existence of the problem, it is best for you to start working on it instantly. Don’t procrastinate. 

It is a great step towards being productive and achieving success. 

It might seem difficult or almost impossible but when you adopt some habits and stick to them consistently, you can beat procrastination!

Remember to be kind to yourself and take one day at a time.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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16 comments on “The 6 Healthy Habits I Used to Beat Procrastination: You Can Do it Too”

  1. Thank you! I am a perfectionist and a multitasker. I have to make myself split a great number of tasks into small bits and feel nice about having done something instead of nothing. The trouble is that little bits are sometimes not seen, only you know that you've done it. Probably it's a good idea to write about them in your journal.

    1. Great idea Olga! Sometimes it's hard to feel accomplished when we only see the small things, but as you say, you can still be proud of them on a daily basis. We can't conquer Everest every day! If you feel a little recognition would help motivate you, share some of your 'little' things with a coworker or manager, or even a friend, and that could help. It sounds like you are able to get a lot done without a lot of fuss, and you sharing your methods could help someone who is struggling. It may seem little to you, but take a win wherever you can find it :).

  2. Thank you! Just the hump I am now dealing with. I realize I needed to get more organized and streamlined and am learning that skill. I congratulate myself for every task that I do. The one thing I find is that the more things on the list, the more overwhelming and fatigued I feel. Just by having so many things on the list is daunting. How do I get over that if breaking big tasks to smaller bits is also helpful?

    1. Hi Tina, yes I know exactly what you mean. The problem is, you will always have more stuff added to your list, no matter how much you get done. Our team just read a book that I found helpful on the subject, called Getting Things Done. It was about how you organize things as they show up, so you aren't just constantly ticking through your neverending To Do list. You learn to assign things as they come in, so your brain doesn't constantly loop reminders that you have to do these other 8 things. We'll have an upcoming article on this, so keep an eye out! And don't be so hard on yourself, it sounds like you are really doing your best. 🙂

  3. My father was like that, perfectionism. With 7 children his tasks, I feel personally, robbed us of much time lost as a family. Everything he did start, never got finished. The house was in constant disarray. But what he did do was perfect. Perfectionism is not good, in the true sense of the word.

    (Unless Space Travel is the topic) 🫡

    1. Perfectionism is such a double edged sword. You want to do things right the first time, but you put it off because you know how much time and effort it will take to do so. Or, as you say, you're left with a lot of good intentions and half finished projects just lying around, adding to the list. Is it better to start something imperfectly and keep working on it? Or to do it perfectly the first time? Most of us wouldn't do anything if we had to be perfect (As you say, this would be pretty critical to be perfect in space travel and also, surgery.), unless that was all we had to focus on. Let's stop trying to be perfect and just try to be content?

  4. This was very helpful. Thanks. I didn't know why I could not get started but once I read your list I could identify or put a name to the way I used to feel. I got things done but not in a timely manner and that would leave me exhausted. Then I would beet up myself because I knew if I had more time (If only I had started earlier) I could of done the task much better...

    1. I don't know if it helps Linda-Rose, but I struggle with that exact problem almost every day. If I actually complete something, I agonize over how much better I could have done if I had only focused more, tried harder, etc. I keep thinking that if I stopped worrying so much about everything and second guessing myself, how much more time I would have to actually do that work. I'm trying to do work first thing in the morning, before the doubting part of my brain catches up to what I'm doing. Just do something. It can always be fixed. But if you never do it at all, it will poke you and get in the way of everything else you need to do.

  5. For me, I find it helpful to set a timer for 20 minutes. I cannot allow anything to interrupt that time slot. Then, it is about the commitment rather than the feeling.
    Focussing on the end result helps too 😊

    1. Wonderful advice Joanie! Sometimes we just have too many distractions. Do you find you that the 20 minutes is enough for you to get immersed in what you're doing and limits distractions?

  6. I read this with great enthusiasm because I have a big project, assigned in March, due on July 31.

    Having read this work on procrastination, I have come to the conclusion that I am just lazy.

    1. Don't be so hard on yourself Lizz. Big projects can be pretty scary, and it's easy to put things off when you have such a long time to plan for them. Start slow and get into it, you can do it! Wishing you well on getting your project done, let us know how it goes.

  7. Thanks for this today its what I needed,I find it hard to get motivated,after reading this I'm going to get started today.

    1. Thank Pamela! Sometimes, we just need to start with one little step to get the momentum going. Sending you lots of positive thoughts to keep you motivated!

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