The Art Of Endless Delaying: How To Stop Procrastinating

Simple words: Don’t wait till tomorrow. Procrastination can seriously harm jeopardise your bigger goals in life. Here's why and how to stop procrastinating.

Simple words: Don’t wait till tomorrow. Procrastination can seriously harm jeopardise your bigger goals in life. Here’s why and how to stop procrastinating.

Procrastination is the voluntary delaying of an action, though, most of the time we are conscious that such a putting off may make our situation difficult, or at times, worse.

We all procrastinate from time to time. We put off our laundry for a couple of days or our grocery or a car wash. These are quite acceptable ones, which, breaks our routines occasionally and trust me, a lot of us enjoy it. The scary part is that a few of us chronically delay very crucial tasks and look for distractions (which are ample) to delay even more; for instance, delaying health issues or not saving for one’s retirement or child’s education.

The challenge is about those undone tasks which might actually end up making us miserable emotionally, financially and at times physically too. But annoying as it may sound, some of us still do it. How can we (and why should we) take control over it way before its too late?

Why we procrastinate

According to psychologists, procrastination is a coping mechanism. When we procrastinate we are putting off the unpleasant or at times critical/difficult tasks and instead do stuff which are temporary mood boosters. It’s a perennial struggle with our self-control which often results in guilt that we have delayed the yet-to-be done work and procrastinate even more and hence we fall in the trap of a vicious circle.

Sometimes, fear sets in and we push even further, as it is bone-chilling to even think about it. To validate our delay, some of us think of it an involuntary action that we do not have control over it and crown it as “lack of willpower” or “time management issues”.

It is extremely serious when people fail to acknowledge that it is a self-chosen action and not an involuntary one. Here is some light on the reasons behind procrastination.

  • Procrastinators sometimes wait for the perfect time to do it all. They often put off things thinking of the magic moment which is often a complete illusion. As a result, things get delayed indefinitely.
  • The other common reasons for procrastination are being over cautious and questioning oneself over and over again when one is trying to make a decision which is another deterrent to getting tasks done.

What results from procrastination is
• Losing control which leads to stress as the tasks remains undone.
• For some, it leads an embarrassment if friends or co-workers are involved.
• Lack of confidence due to indecisiveness over tasks.
• Sometimes the burden gets shifted to your loved ones.
• Some just give up due to the tremendous frustration.

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Here’s how to stop procrastinating

The good news is that it need not be a dead end. We can overcome such stress if, we, for the time-being, forcibly take some steps which would bring us out of the delay until it becomes a habit.

• Make a to-do list (not too many though) of the tasks you are procrastinating and set yourself a deadline. Get started with the least difficult or complicated one. Once done, reward yourself as it would elevate your feel good factor though the achievement might not seem very significant.
• Sometimes making your tasks known to others may help you get those done due to the pressure of it.
• Set yourself consequences and go over it again and again every day.
• Focus on the success and the self-confidence after a job is completed so that it can generate further push.
• Reduce temptations in such periods of your life when you are trying to get things done.
• Remind yourself of those aspirations/dreams/ambitions you’ve often dreamt in your childhood and how you are going to succeed in those.

Summing up, procrastination is not a disease. No one is born with it. It develops over our life-time when we have innumerable choices and we struggle to prioritize among various options. It requires a giant push from within to set us back on track and once we are set, we can sail along smoothly.

A message to the non-procrastinators: If your loved ones are chronic delayers, show some empathy so that it encourages the concerned person to take that step to get out of the unending cycle.

Concept image for procrastination via Shutterstock 


About the Author


An Indian upbringing, educated in Economics, with a Banking profession past, relocated to United States a decade ago, pursued further studies, and took a break to enjoy motherhood. An avid reader be it books, articles, read more...

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