Beat procrastination once and for all! Find out what it is and practical strategies to overcome this challenge and increase productivity.
In this article, you’ll learn step by step how to put an end to procrastination once and for all. However, it is essential that you read our content to the end.
What we will see in this article
What does procrastination mean?
The term procrastinate means to put off or postpone an activity or obligation from today to another day, often the next day.
This postponement usually occurs because the activity that needs to be done is boring or tedious enough to do later.
It’s important to understand that procrastination happens with simple everyday issues or essential future plans.
For example, imagine that you need to answer today’s emails. So you get to work, have a coffee, chat to colleagues, work, but when you look at the clock it’s already time to leave.
As a result, you realize that it’s too late to answer any emails. This way, you put off that activity that could be done today until tomorrow or the day after.
Another example is doing a postgraduate course that you know will be essential for a promotion. But you put it off year after year until you realize that even if you do it, it won’t have an impact on your career.
Since the useful time for a promotion has already come to an end and you have to make do with your position today.
What does it mean not to procrastinate?
In the previous topic we showed you that procrastination is a task, activity or responsibility that you need to do today but you put off until the next day or beyond.
However, we need to understand that procrastination is when we can do that task, activity or responsibility, but we don’t do it, don’t we?
Therefore, we should only consider procrastination when we could do that activity, since we are healthy, energetic and have all our basic needs met.
With this in mind, it should never be considered procrastination if you are tired or hungry. After all, a basic need must be met for you to be productive.
If we see all our basic needs as a form of procrastination, we’ll end up sick. And more unproductive, because we could have avoided this disease.
So the big difference between procrastination and not procrastinating is your mental and physical state. If any of them isn’t 100%, naturally you won’t be productive.
However, this means that you need to take care of your physical health, mental health or basic needs first before you can become productive.
This difference between the two concepts is essential if we are to maintain a healthy relationship with productivity. We can’t cut an hour of sleep to gain an hour at work, can we?
What is procrastination?
In the first topic, we explained that procrastination stems from how difficult, boring or tedious a task, activity or responsibility is.
However, we only have this perception because there are other activities that are more enjoyable, fun and easier than the ones we need to do.
A great engine for procrastination is our smartphone, isn’t it? After all, we have games, videos, social networks and much more to distract us.
In this way, we tend to put off important tasks in favor of a few more minutes of that more pleasurable activity.
The problem with this is that we are exchanging a momentary and current pleasure for a future and continuous pleasure.
For example, imagine that you want to study for a public exam, but you focus much more on the soccer matches during the week in various leagues.
In other words, instead of studying for an hour every day, you concentrate much more on watching soccer matches for an hour and a half.
Obviously, we all have hobbies and soccer matches are fun, but they end and a new season begins.
It’s different from passing a civil service exam, because you’ll have a well-paid job for the rest of your life.
What is a procrastinator?
A procrastinator is someone who often procrastinates. In other words, in addition to procrastinating, the procrastinator also prioritizes a momentary pleasure over a future one.
In this way, they feel anxious about the future but do nothing to change it. Naturally, you get into a vicious cycle of anxiety and guilt.
It’s important to understand that the procrastinator has no age, gender or convictions. In other words, what we mean is that any one of us can become a procrastinator.
This is important to understand because often in our adult lives, we make excuses to avoid guilt. We’re always busy and that’s why we can’t carry out our plans, isn’t it?
However, this statement does not remove the label of procrastinator from us. In fact, it makes our situation worse, since we will always use this excuse to avoid facing the real problem.
One of the solutions we’ll talk about later is routine implementation. The procrastinator has a great aversion to routine.
Whether it’s because he tried it and it didn’t work or because he doesn’t think it’s the right method for his way of life. The procrastinator believes that he has a preference for flexibility.
In this case there is no problem, as many routines can be flexible. However, the procrastinator uses yet another excuse to avoid tackling their real problem.
What’s the difference between laziness and procrastination?
Laziness is like a higher level of procrastination. Since the lazy person won’t even volunteer to be responsible. Confused? Let’s explain.
Imagine that in your home the household chores are shared with the family. Your responsibility for the day is to wash the dishes. See the difference between a procrastinator and a slacker.
The procrastinator has agreed to his responsibility, he knows how important it is, but he puts it off until the last minute.
However, the lazy person won’t even agree to the responsibility. He’ll come up with a pile of excuses not to do it and explain it to his family.
This strategy works because the family no longer delegates responsibility for household chores to him. The procrastinator’s family suffers from another problem.
The family will check and notify the procrastinator of their activities and responsibilities according to this example of washing the dishes.
In other words, the procrastinator agrees with his responsibilities, he knows how important they are, but he puts them off. The lazy don’t even take responsibility.
Laziness is also caused by a lack of motivation to perform a certain task. In other words, the person doesn’t realize the importance of that task in their life.
In this way, procrastination is also the execution of more pleasurable or less important tasks to the detriment of difficult or unpleasurable responsibilities.
Continuing with our example, the procrastinator would reply to the family after being notified that he hadn’t done the dishes yet because he was answering emails or attending an important class.
In other words, he put you in charge of a task in order to have the excuse to postpone his previously confirmed responsibility.
What is the relationship between Procrastination and Anxiety?
The relationship between procrastination and anxiety is very central and strong. After all, when you procrastinate you have less time to do a certain activity and you naturally become more anxious.
People with clinical anxiety naturally put off certain tasks and procrastinate. Already imagining a future failure and leading the individual to have low self-esteem for procrastinating.
However, we must understand that we are only talking about people who have been diagnosed with anxiety. In other words, don’t consider a self-diagnosis if you’ve done it.
All procrastinators will naturally feel anxious. In fact, anxiety is one of the main reasons for keeping the procrastinator in their negative procrastination cycle.
The procrastinator begins to put off a certain task and seeks to achieve goals that have no connection with their postponed responsibility.
In this way, the procrastinator puts it off until there’s no time left and he has to choose between doing it or not. Generally, this person does what they need to do, but with a lot of anxiety.
By doing this, he is carrying out the previously postponed task and thinking about what will happen if he doesn’t deliver on time or delivers below the expected standard.
By passing this peak of anxiety, the procrastinator rewards himself with more procrastination. After all, there are other activities to be done, or at least some organization so as not to cause any more anxiety.
However, the procrastinator chooses the easiest decision. In other words, making activities simpler, more enjoyable and more fun. Until, once again, I procrastinate so much that the anxiety comes back and gets stronger and stronger.
What drives a person to procrastinate?
If you’ve read all our content so far, you’ll know that there are several reasons why people procrastinate. However, in this topic we’re going to organize them all in a logical order.
You’ll see below in our list that all the reasons why people procrastinate are connected in some way. See below:
- Lack of routine
- Poor self-awareness
These are the four main reasons why people procrastinate. Let’s explain what each one is and its connection to the others.
As we said in the previous topic, anxiety is the fruit of procrastination, but at the same time it feeds it. The procrastinator rewards himself after a period of anxiety.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is the lack of routine that we talked about earlier. After all, anxiety is nothing more than excessive worry about what you can’t control.
You naturally get rid of this feeling when you know exactly what is going to happen on your day, based on prior planning. In other words, establishing a routine.
Lack of routine
As we mentioned in the previous subtopic, a lack of routine leads to anxiety spikes and anxiety naturally leads to procrastination.
People who have tried to get into a routine and failed, have usually tried for a very short period of time. In addition, the routine needs a methodology and it may be that the one previously chosen is not that efficient for the person.
There is another case when the person has a preconception of routine, usually people who like flexibility. In this way, they think that the routine will destroy their suppleness.
However, there are several methods that allow for a flexible routine. Often using other techniques such as pomodoro, for example.
That way, no excuse can stand up to the arguments of routine, can it? Regardless of your personality and way of thinking.
What precedes anxiety and is the result of a lack of routine are excuses. In other words, why prioritize one task over another.
It’s important to understand that when we really want to solve a problem, we focus on the solution and not on excuses. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s not and we’ll explain why.
When you know that you need to do a certain activity and you don’t, it means that it’s not a priority for you, just like that.
That way, if it’s not a priority for you, naturally there’s another priority for you. For example, if you’re not studying because there’s a soccer match on, then the soccer match is your priority and not studying.
Remember how we said that procrastinators are different from lazy people, because procrastinators make an agreement but postpone their activity on the agreement?
This is due to a lack of self-awareness. Self-awareness is understanding yourself, your weaknesses, your facilities and your responsibilities.
If you take responsibility for a certain task without considering whether you can do it or not, you have a lack of self-awareness.
For example, imagine that your boss asks you to deliver the report in two days. If you’re self-aware, you’ll think about whether you can meet that deadline.
If you can’t, you’ll tell your boss that this deadline isn’t possible and inform him of a new one. But with poor self-awareness, you don’t think about whether you can do something or not.
That way, you agree to everything that is proposed and then feel anxious because you won’t be able to complete what was agreed.
What are the causes of procrastination?
As we mentioned in the previous topic, there are four main reasons why people procrastinate. In this topic we’ll talk about the main causes of procrastination caused by the environment.
You have to understand that yes, procrastinators are 100% responsible for their actions. However, the environment also plays a role in procrastination.
So, while in the previous topic, the main focus was on the person, let’s talk about what it is around the person that makes them a procrastinator.
- Constantly set on fire
When we talk about a disorganized environment, we’re talking about the place where the activities will take place. For example, the work environment is an office.
A disorganized environment is one that does not provide the necessary tools to carry out the proposed activity.
For example, to wash the dishes you need water, detergent and a sponge, don’t you? If you waste time looking for these tools, this will be a trigger for procrastination.
You have to understand that if you don’t have the tools, it means that the person responsible hasn’t organized themselves beforehand to carry out their task. That way, you’ve been surprised and it’s the procrastinator’s fault.
A noisy environment often cannot be avoided. For example, imagine that you work from home and your children are at home on a long holiday.
The noisy environment hinders concentration on tasks that require not only the body, but also the mind. Naturally, it becomes an extra challenge for a procrastinator who needs much less to start procrastinating.
Constantly set on fire
When we talk about constantly on fire, we’re talking about an environment where you have to solve problems that happen all the time and that get in the way of your day’s activities.
This way, you get so used to the chaotic environment that you naturally can’t keep up with your activities, leading to procrastination.
For example, imagine that you are the leader of a new team and every day you have to answer new questions and help with difficulties.
As we talked about in previous topics, procrastination only happens when we prioritize more satisfying tasks. However, this prioritization only happens if the environment allows it.
For example, imagine that in your work environment, the leadership allows you to use social networks during breaks, but you abuse the break time just to procrastinate your activities.
By way of example, if your boss didn’t allow social media at work, naturally you wouldn’t procrastinate so much during your breaks, would you?
What are the symptoms of procrastination?
Based on the reasons we talked about earlier and the environment provided for the procrastinator, there are naturally frequent symptoms for procrastinators, aren’t there?
In this topic we’re going to focus precisely on this issue, where you’ll be able to identify with some points, but also feel free to comment on symptoms you experience when procrastinating.
- Relief at being allowed to postpone a certain task
- A strong sense of guilt for not carrying out a task on time
- The constant feeling that your schedule is full, but you can’t finish any of the proposed activities beforehand
- The first thought about an unpleasant activity is to put it off
- Create excuses for procrastination and never focus on the solution
What is active procrastination?
Active procrastination is a term popularized by the internet to show a type of procrastination that is beneficial to us, thus doing useful tasks.
For example, washing dishes, taking care of your skin, etc. However, active procrastination is not as positive as people make it out to be.
Obviously, doing useful tasks is important and better than spending all your time on social media or playing games. However, active procrastination is still procrastination.
Since you are doing useful tasks, but avoiding doing tasks that need to be done. That way, anxiety and guilt don’t go away.
Active procrastination does have a sincere goal, but at the end of the day, it won’t help you get rid of anxiety, guilt, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy and so on.
What are the types of procrastination?
Based on what we’ve said about the environment and what drives a person to procrastinate, we’ve been able to identify four groups of procrastinators. See which one you are below:
Perfectionist procrastination means that the procrastinator in this group stays on a task until it is perfect, but that perfection is never achieved.
Having an almost perfect excuse not to continue doing the other necessary tasks. Obviously, we all want to do something good that should be recognized by other people.
However, different tasks require different types of perfection. You need to be perfect as a surgeon, but you don’t need to be so perfect at washing dishes, do you?
The procrastinator in this group creates an almost perfect plan, but one that is very difficult to execute. In this way, he spends more time creating the plan than actually executing it.
For example, imagine that this procrastinator needs to tidy up his house. The simplest and most functional way is to create a list of tasks in order of priority.
However, he prefers to imagine all possible scenarios, create a list of cleaning products needed, the number of cloths and other unnecessary details.
Procrastination of fear
The procrastinator in this group is very afraid of judgment, so they don’t like making mistakes and naturally prefer to put off their tasks until the last minute.
People in this group also tend to blame the environment or someone else for their own procrastination.
Generating various social complications and focusing much more on creating an excuse than actually solving the problem.
Procrastination under pressure
Procrastinators in this group believe that they work best under tight deadlines and so they put off starting work until the last possible minute.
Often this can even be true, after all there is a state of flow when we need to finish a certain task. However, this will compromise the end result of the task or responsibility.
How to avoid procrastination?
Now let’s finally talk about the practical side, in this topic we’ll take you step by step through what you need to do to avoid procrastination.
1. Plan according to the environment and your objectives
First of all, you need to plan your tasks according to the environment and also your objectives. So first, list all your tasks for the next day, from the simplest to the most complex.
If you’re someone who likes more flexibility, only write down the most important tasks for the next day and not the simplest ones.
Once you’ve made your list, divide up these tasks according to the environment and your needs. For example, if you need to read a book in graduate school, choose the quietest time in your house.
2. Take planned breaks
We all need a break to re-oxygenate our brains and ensure that we have more focus for the day’s activities. The problem is that procrastinators want to turn a break into an eternity, but we have a solution for that.
You can use the pomodoro method that we’ve already explained here on the site and take breaks according to your needs.
For example, if you’re someone who naturally can’t concentrate for long periods of time, take shorter periods of focus and proportionate breaks.
3. Evaluate your day
The third step is to evaluate how your day went. In other words, evaluate what changes you need to make so that the next day is more productive.
Write down if you didn’t manage to do a certain task, what the reason was and propose a solution to the reason you wrote down.
If the solution works, write it down and if it doesn’t, write it down too. All this information is essential for creating consistency and continuous improvement.
Look at these three steps as a cycle, where when you finish the third step you go back to the first. That way, you’ll become more and more productive day after day.
What can you do to overcome procrastination?
The only way to beat procrastination is to focus on continuity. In other words, not giving up on having a routine, setting daily goals and creating solutions to problems.
So if a day was unproductive because you procrastinated, don’t give up or make excuses. Look for the best solution to the problems you identified that day.
In addition, continuity is essential because procrastination will happen, regardless of whether you are the most organized person in the world. There will be a day when you procrastinate and that’s fine.
What makes you a procrastinator is that you continually procrastinate. It’s obvious to a certain extent, but people think that procrastination will no longer be a part of their lives, when in fact it’s not.
Your focus for ending procrastination is not to make a habit of it, creating a positive cycle as we talked about in the previous topic.
How do I know if I’m procrastinating?
To finish off our content, we’re going to show you 10 essential questions to ask yourself to find out whether you’re procrastinating or not.
- Have you planned your day’s tasks? (If not, you’re probably procrastinating in some way)
- Are the tasks you’re prioritizing for the day really the most important? (If not, you’re procrastinating)
- Have you set planned breaks for yourself during the day? (If not, you’re probably procrastinating or will procrastinate)
- Do you have a good reason for not doing the day’s priority tasks? If so, are you exaggerating the truth of the motive or not? (If so, you’re procrastinating).
- When you think about the consequences of not doing priority tasks, do you get anxious? (If so, you’re probably procrastinating).
- Have you chosen the best or worst time to do your priority activity? (If you’ve chosen the worst, you’re procrastinating)
- Are your basic needs being met or not? (If not, you’re not procrastinating, but you need to fulfill your basic needs in order to get started).
- Does the reason why you’re not doing your priority tasks have a solution? (If so, you’re procrastinating)
- Are you going to plan your activities for tomorrow or not? (If not, you’re one step away from procrastinating tomorrow)
- Do you think you only procrastinated today or has procrastination become routine (If it has become routine, carry out the three steps we talked about in previous topics).