How To Stop Procrastinating For Good

We all have someone in our life who is a master at procrastinating. Sometimes it’s friends and family, at other times it’s coworkers. And more often than not, the greatest expert at putting things off until the very last minute is ourselves. By figuring out why we procrastinate in the first place and realizing the numerous ways in which this unpleasant habit actually hurts rather than helps us, we can easily drop it and make room and time for experiences that really matter and bring us joy.

This post is NOT a part of the The Beauty Of… series which concentrates on finding the positive aspects of a situation so that we will actually enjoy it. Because frankly, there is nothing helpful or endearing about delaying tasks. Fear not, though, I am about to share all the tricks and tips that personally helped me to stop procrastinating for good. No need to sugarcoat things if you can get rid of them once and for all.


: How I Got Things Done (Again) :

I was one of those children who always did their homework straight away. My parents often shook their heads when I sat down at my desk right after school, even when I actually had a whole week to for the task at hand.

I simply wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. The sooner I finished my homework, the sooner I could return to the things truly important to me. It was something I didn’t even have to think twice about.

While my friends put off their homework until panic set in on the very last day, I was able to sit back and relax. My biggest problem was forgetting about a topic by the time it was due because so much time had passed since I had worked on it. But in my eyes, that was a small price to pay for being able to fully enjoy my spare time.

Many years down the road, I noticed that I had lost my former way of dealing with tasks that had once served me so well. This made me sad. On the one hand, it was unnecessary, and on the other, it simply didn’t work.

We may be able to decide when to do something, but we have no conscious control over whether or not we think about it. All too often, something we put off hangs over our heads like a Damocles sword. While we’re sitting at the movies with our friends or playing with our dog, we know full well that there’s this one thing we should be doing instead. And this knowledge alone is enough to taint whatever we’re doing at the time.

So why are we doing this to ourselves – and why voluntarily?

While I cannot answer this question, I do have a few solutions I would like to share with you. They helped me get back on track, and I’m pretty sure at least one of them will work wonders for you, too.


: Why Procrastination Is A Problem :

Like other habits, procrastination doesn’t happen out of the blue. There is always a reason why we do things a certain way instead of another, and it’s usually because we think of it as benefiting us. We feel putting things off grants us more time, gives us more control, or yields a better output. Realizing that this is a wrong conclusion is the first step towards giving up this habit in favor of a healthier lifestyle.

:1. Done Is Better Than Perfect:

Many of us postpone things we need to do to a later date hoping that they will turn out better than they would if we did them immediately.

Just as it once was at school, there seems to be an omnipresent fear of handing in homework too early and therefore incomplete in adult life as well. If we give ourselves enough time and space, the result will shine brighter after all, won’t it?

Not necessarily. A phenomenon called Parkinson’s Law states that a task takes as much time as is available to complete it. Even if we schedule more time than we actually need, it will often end up taking up all the time we made available for it. It’s a vicious circle really.

Interestingly (and sadly to some), this phenomenon doesn’t simultaneously ensure that the result is better than it would have been if we hadn’t invested as much time in it.

Perfectionism (namely trying out different alternatives, adjusting at all corners and ends, and tweaking things until they feel right) hardly ever pays off. Instead, many of us have already experienced that the first attempt and inspiration have led to the best possible result.

With that in mind: Isn’t it time to kick perfectionism to the curb where it belongs? Let’s be okay with “sufficient” – it’s enough to finish things, and that’s our main goal after all.

:2. Unfinished Business Ruins Everything Else:

When we postpone something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can actually forget about the task. Granted, there are people for whom “out of sight, out of mind” applies, and they can successfully block things out until they become urgent, and they cannot delay them any further.

Most of us, however, do not have this skill. Putting things off banishes them to our subconscious, but they usually return with a vengeance. We know this effect under the term guilty conscience, and it can make our lives a living hell.

Activities we were looking forward to and for which we postponed the task at hand because it obviously seemed less appealing, suddenly ended up being a lot less enjoyable. Our guilty conscience hovers over everything we do and drains it from the joy we would be experiencing if the task had already been done and could be forgotten.

This poses the question of why we do this to ourselves. Why are we ruining our precious lifetime and limited recreational time by tarnishing it with unfinished things when we could just as well do things and get them out of the way?

Let’s consciously change that and claim our time, focus, and lightheartedness back.

:3. We Subject Ourselves To Homemade Stress:

Let’s face it: Our lives are already stressful without us doing anything. In everyday life, we encounter countless things we need to do without having any control over them.

We have deadlines to meet, promises to keep, questions to answer, information to obtain or provide – the world is full of demands on us that we cannot escape.

Why are we making life even harder on ourselves than it already is? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to relieve ourselves wherever and whenever possible?

We may not be able to prevent things from occurring. What we DO have control over, however, is when and how we attend to them. Whether we grant them more room in our lives than necessary or less.

I would suggest to go with less. Let’s do things well but not perfect, sooner rather than later, with as little additional stress as possible. It’s up to us to protect ourselves, because if we don’t, no one else will.

:4. Procrastinating Keeps Us Stuck:

In my mind, I like to compare procrastination with a hot air balloon, which symbolizes our life and ideally carries us from one place to another without a care in the world.

A colorful cluster of helium-filled balloons floats above us, carrying us through the air and shining brightly in the sunlight. At the same time, weights hang from the edges of the basket we are in, preventing us from ascending further and pulling us toward the ground.

Each balloon represents a task we have completed in our life. And every weight stands for an unfinished task we are aware of but have chosen not to deal with.

The more ballast in the form of unfinished tasks we shed, the more carefree and safely we can continue on our journey through the skies.

When we deliberately put things off, we hold ourselves back in life.

:5. We Miss The Forest For The Trees:

When too many things pile up that we should be doing but choose not to, we lose track of what’s important in life.

Instead of seeing the forest we’re standing in with all the beautiful plants and animals that come with it, we see only the various trunks of the trees around us caging us in and representing all the pending todos we know are there while wishing they weren’t.

Wishful thinking, however, has never solved anything for anyone. It just prolongs the inevitable until it becomes a much bigger task than it initially was.

By getting things done, we open our eyes to our surroundings again and can see past the trees that used to block our view. The shorter our to-do list is, the freer we are. We’re not preoccupied with all the things we should be doing, but can instead focus on all the things we want to do, and that’s exactly how it should be.

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.

Don Marquis

Help this ugly duckling turn into a swan.
This website is brand new and hasn’t gained much traction yet, so I rely heavily on word of mouth. If you enjoyed what you read so far, it would make my day if you shared it with friends and family and followed me on social media. Thank you! ❤︎


: How To Procrastinate Less :

Leaving the habit of putting things off behind us starts with creating a list – a looong list. And it will be fun, I promise. So let’s grab a piece of paper (or our favorite notebook) and a pen that feels good in our hand and get to work.

We’ll start by writing down everything our mind comes up with regarding things we want or need to get done. This can be anything from doing the dishes to filing our income tax return to making that phone call we’ve been putting off for weeks. You’ll be surprised at just how much there is to do.

:1. Do Similar Things In One Go:

It can take a couple of minutes, hours, or even days to complete this list, and however much time you end up spending on it is perfectly fine.

The next step is to go over the list and bundle tasks that are similar in terms of content, subject matter, or location. The main advantage of this is that by doing this, we’ll then be able to complete many tasks in one go.

When we only concentrate on one specific kind of task instead of constantly switching between different types of business, it allows us to focus better. Consequently, we’ll have an easier time getting “into the flow” and crossing tasks off our list.

If we have several emails to answer, dealing with them all at once rather than spreading them throughout the day is more efficient. In the same way, running errands works more smoothly when doing it back to back instead of going shopping for one thing, returning home, and setting out again.

Bundling similar tasks also helps us to develop a better overview regarding how much is left to do and a more structured approach. By grouping similar tasks, we can also set priorities and create a work plan. And having planned things out in advance is always an invaluable timesaver.

:2. Use Waiting Time Efficiently:

We often procrastinate not only because we don’t feel like doing something, but especially because an alternative seems much more attractive to us. Why sift through and answer that huge pile of letters and invoices when that new episode of our favorite TV show has just become available?

It is much easier to convince our inner sloth to work through our to-do list if there are fewer distractions around or if the time available to us is limited. Both are usually the case whenever waiting times need to be bridged.

Regardless of whether we are at home waiting for a friend to arrive or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office waiting for our appointment to start, this is the ideal time to do things that we would otherwise put off. Not much else to do so we might as well use the time efficiently, right?

We can prepare for these occasions by going over our to-do list and writing down the tasks that are specifically suitable for one of the following scenarios.

  • 5 minutes at home: making the bed, taking out the trash, watering the plants, loading the washing machine
  • 15 minutes at home: doing the dishes, tidying up a single room, unloading the dishwasher, practicing an instrument
  • 5 minutes in a waiting room: replying to emails, planning our meals for the week, scheduling appointments
  • 15 minutes in a waiting room: exercising (walking or jogging around the block), learning by listening to podcasts, meditating
  • Waiting for public transport (duration undeterminable): making phone calls, unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters

This has the nice side effect that we no longer need to be annoyed if the wait takes longer again. We may not have wished for it, but since we’re prepared, we can still make good use of the additional time. And as a bonus, we’ll have fewer tasks to complete the next time we have time to ourselves.

:3. Break Down Tasks Into Smaller Steps:

We become masters at procrastinating whenever we encounter a mountain that seems too daunting to climb. All of a sudden, it seems to be much easier to forget about it altogether than to try. We can easily approach this by dividing tasks into smaller steps. It helps us avoid overwhelm, maintain motivation, and better structure the entire process.

The mere idea of tackling a large and complex task often leads to uncertainty and inhibition. By breaking tasks down into manageable and chronological steps, they become more tangible, and getting started is much easier.

We can create a clear schedule and define when and how exactly we want to complete which steps. Besides creating structure and orientation, it also helps us monitor our progress and make adjustments whenever necessary.

We also get a sense of achievement if we complete and manually tick off smaller subtasks regularly. These small feelings of success then encourage us to continue working on the task that once seemed too huge to even start.

:4. Connect The Task To Something Positive:

Connecting a task to something positive that brings us joy helps us to get started and pull through with it more easily. The initial hurdle and our reluctance to spend time on an unwanted task will be much smaller than they were without a welcome distraction.

By associating it with something positive, we can change our perspective and see the task in a new light. Instead of viewing it exclusively as a chore, it turns into something that happens to take place while we’re doing something nice. Trust me, this will make you much more likely to tackle a task.

I have linked the most unlikely things together, and by doing so have become an expert at getting things done instead of putting them off like I used to. Brainstorm things you enjoy that only require you to focus one of your senses on them so that you can use your other senses to focus on the task.

These combinations may not be for you, but they can give you an idea of what I mean:

  • I listen to my favorite podcasts and YouTubers while doing the dishes or hanging up the laundry
  • I take a relaxing footbath that helps me wind down while doing digital tasks on my computer
  • I tidy up and dust while I’m on the phone (no bad conscience, I’m not vacuuming after all)

Connecting a chore to something positive is all about changing our perspective and focusing on the positive to increase our motivation and reduce our tendency to procrastinate.

:5. Reward Yourself For Getting Things Done:

Rewards play a crucial role in motivating us to get things done, and while we shouldn’t throw them around too lavishly, it is important to reward ourselves for completing tasks we would have otherwise put off until the cows come home.

There are various ways to reward ourselves, and we don’t have to think long and hard about it. What would you much rather do than finish the task at hand? That’s what you should reward yourself with once the work is done. It can be small or large, material or immaterial – all that matters are your personal preferences and possibilities.

Examples of rewards could be:

  • a cup of coffee or our favorite tea
  • a piece of chocolate, or five, or an entire bar
  • a relaxing bubble bath with our favorite music
  • a scenic drive or a walk in the woods
  • a meeting with friends

It’s important to choose rewards that are motivating and appealing to us, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s something someone else would pick. As long as it’s approximately proportionate to the task completed, we’re good.

And now let’s get these tasks done so that we can finally get down to the things that really matter.


: Questions To Ponder Over :

  1. What (supposed) benefits do you see for yourself when procrastinating?
  2. Are there things you always / often do right away and why do you think that is?
  3. If a day had more than 24 hours, would you be less prone to procrastination?
  4. Would you be able to switch unwanted tasks with someone else to get them done?
  5. What would it feel like if all open tasks in your life were completed?

I’d be thrilled to hear from you in the comments below.
Don’t be shy.


: Information For Research :

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: Key Takeaways From This Post :

Procrastination is a common habit that many of us know a thing or two about or have even mastered to perfection. This is the case because of common misconceptions about its benefits. We think putting things off is the way to go and helps us enjoy life to the fullest. In reality, however, all it does is make us miserable.

Delaying tasks leads to stress, guilt, and missed opportunities for enjoyment, but thankfully it can be overcome easily once we’re aware of the tools we have at our disposal:

  • Bundling similar tasks to make it easier for us to work on them and get into the flow
  • Using waiting time to get things done since otherwise we’d only be waiting anyway
  • Breaking tasks into smaller steps to make them more manageable and less daunting
  • Connecting tasks to positive activities so we look forward to doing them
  • Rewarding ourselves for completing tasks simply because we deserve it

“And what if one day we have worked through our entire to-do list?”, I hear you ask.

Then it will finally be time to turn our attention to the things we want to be doing. And oh, how we will enjoy them to the fullest…

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1 Comments How To Stop Procrastinating For Good

  1. Avatar for AlexAlex May 6, 2024 at 1:49 PM

    Dear special someone who is reading my blog,
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