Life Coaching Blog

Conquering Procrastination: Understanding the Why and Unleashing Your Productivity Potential

Procrastination – the age-old enemy lurking in the shadows of our daily lives, battling with our ambitions and stalling our progress. Some of us are more disciplined than others, but even the strongest, most diligent have succumbed to distractions and delayed tasks. So, why do we procrastinate? More importantly, how can we overcome it? You may be reading this blog to procrastinate on an important task, but hey, it’s better than scrolling social media. Since you’re here, let’s leave you with some tips and tools for getting back and staying on track.


The Psychology of Procrastination


The better we understand something, the easier it becomes to combat it. Here are some of the psychological reasons we become trapped in cycles of procrastination:


Fear of Failure: One of the biggest causes of procrastination is the fear of failure. Anxiety and self-doubt can cause a freeze response to protect us from the negative feelings associated with our shortcomings. Procrastination, in this case, is a protective mechanism, delaying any damage to our self-esteem.


Perfectionism: Closely related to this fear of failure is perfectionism. As the name suggests, these mindsets see anything short of perfection as a failure. Although it may seem like a means to achieve excellence, it is often at the cost of progress. Sometimes a job well done, on time, is far more important than a job done perfectly, well after its deadline.


Lack of clarity: When the task seems impossible, complex or overwhelming, it can make us uncertain of our requirements and abilities. This uncertainty can lead us to put it off altogether.


Instant gratification: Why wait to watch Netflix later, after you finish the task, when you could save the task for later and watch Netflix now? Instant gratification is a huge player in the procrastination game, and it’s almost impossible to beat in the world of digital distractions and immediate pleasure.


Tips to overcome procrastination


Now that we understand the primary causes of procrastination, it’s time to unpack them and find constructive tools to combat these roadblocks and achieve our ultimate productivity.


Goal and priority setting: To maintain clarity, you need to be able to measure a task through structured goals and priorities. Once you break an overwhelming task into more minor, manageable activities, you can create a clear roadmap to accomplish it and quieten the urge to procrastinate.


Time management strategies: Allocating set times for work and pleasure is a great way to hold yourself accountable to a task. Methods like time blocking or the Pomodoro technique are a way to allocate time for productivity while still incorporating things you want to do.


Embrace the 2-minute rule: If a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete, try to do it immediately. This helps to prevent a build-up of jobs that become overwhelming and unmanageable. Accomplishing smaller tasks lights up reward pathways in your brain, encouraging you to keep the momentum going.


Use visualisation: Take time to visualise the positive outcomes of completing a task. Think of the relief from anxiety when you can check it off your list or what it will feel like to enjoy your favourite activity without the job looming overhead. Achieving your goals is satisfying, so creating a clear visual picture of this can be a powerful tool to build motivation and break out of a period of procrastination.


Build accountability and support systems:

  • Join a study or workgroup.
  • Tell others of your plans and goals.
  • Set deadlines for yourself if you don’t have a clear timeframe.

Staying accountable to yourself or others can motivate you to complete a task, as the need to avoid disappointment outweighs the desire to procrastinate. 

Be kind to yourself: Perfection is an illusion, and you are more capable than you think. If the fear of failure or imperfection is causing you to delay tasks, try to be kinder to yourself. The worst that can happen is you make a mistake and learn from it; it’s never the end of the world.

By understanding the cause of your procrastination and implementing the tools described, you can overcome the endless cycle of procrastination. Best of all, you’ll find that procrastination is never as fulfilling as it seems; when you start making progress and ticking off your goals, you will notice an uplift in your overall mindset and mood. Ok, now get back to work.