How to Stop Procrastination in 5 Simple Steps:

By Isabelle Krebs
January 19, 2023

Do you find yourself procrastinating at work? It’s a common problem, but there are ways to overcome it. In this blog post, we will discuss five easy steps that you can take to stop procrastination. Let’s start with the definition of procrastination. 

Procrastination Defined

The first step in overcoming procrastination is understanding what it is. Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task that needs to be done. It can be caused by many factors, such as fear of failure, lack of motivation, or overcoming perfectionism to submit a final project two days before the deadline, resulting in a C+ Grade.

It is important to recognize that procrastination is a form of self-sabotage. John Boe with Sales Gravy states, “Procrastination is self-sabotage in disguise— it derails us from completing tasks and holds us back from our bigger goals.” In order to end this self-sabotage, you must ask where does procrastination come from? The answer is that it usually stems from or is a symptom of a deeper issue. “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” said Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa. Procrastination isn’t a time management problem but according to New York Times (NYT) article written by Charlotte Lieberman, procrastination is “…a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond.” Now that we know this, we need to take action in order to overcome procrastination.

So how do you stop procrastinating? 

Step One: Be Kind to Yourself

In other words, practice self-compassion. It is realizing our humanness and being kind to ourselves despite our mistakes and failures. Lieberman wrote in her NYTs’ article, “In fact, several studies show that self-compassion supports motivation and personal growth. Not only does it decrease psychological distress, which we now know is a primary culprit for procrastination, but it also actively boosts motivation, enhances feelings of self-worth, and fosters positive emotions like optimism, wisdom, curiosity, and personal initiative. Best of all, self-compassion doesn’t require anything external — just a commitment to meeting your challenges with greater acceptance and kindness rather than rumination and regret.”

Step 2: Set Small Tasks

“Motivation follows action. Get started, and you’ll find your motivation follows,” Dr. Pychyl said. In order to break procrastination, ask yourself, “What’s the next action I’d take on this if I were going to do it?” Allow your thoughts to motivate you and just start! If it is a large project, break it down into smaller tasks that you can accomplish. This will make the task seem less daunting and more manageable. Allow yourself to sit in your thoughts. What small task could I accomplish now? How could I accomplish it?

Then just try it, and remember motivation will follow!

Step Three: Set a Deadline

The third step is to set a deadline for yourself. This will help you stay on track and stay motivated. It is also important to set realistic deadlines. If you are not sure how long something will take, ask someone who has done it. If you have a project that is due in two weeks, set a deadline for yourself of one week. Again, allow yourself grace but remember, the more you allow yourself to procrastinate, the  harder it is to end the procrastination. The more you break your cycle of procrastination the easier it will become for you to associate emotions of productivity and peace with getting your work done over procrastination. 

Step Four: Take Action

The fourth step is to take action! This is the most important step. It’s time to put your plan into action and start working towards your task. 

Start by taking small steps. If you are trying to write a paper, start by writing one paragraph. Work on your project for a little bit each day. You will be surprised at how quickly you can make progress when you work on it regularly.

Step Five: Evaluate Your Progress

The fifth and final step is to evaluate your progress. Take a look at how far you’ve come and celebrate your accomplishments! If you procrastinated, be kind to yourself, it’s okay! 

We hope that these five steps will help you overcome procrastination. Remember, the most important step is fighting the negative feelings associated with doing your work and the guilt that comes with procrastination and just taking action! Just get started and you’ll be on your way to reaching your goal.

Even though it's week one, get ready for the semester with these tips!