How To Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination can kill your productivity and ruin your likelihood of success.

If you’re in the habit of putting things off, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

What I want to offer to you is that procrastination is something you can change. It’s not a personality trait that you’re stuck with forever. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

How To Stop Procrastinating

In order to understand how to stop procrastinating, we need to take a step back. First, lets discuss what procrastination is, what it looks like, and how you can take control to become more proactive.

Redefining Procrastination 

The definition of procrastination is “the action of delaying or postponing something.”

Procrastination is inaction. It’s putting things off.

When you procrastinate you don’t do what you need to do. Instead, you delay. You do something else.

On top of that, you create a story around your inaction about how you’re a “procrastinator.”

This is the kiss of death.

Procrastination is NOT who you are.

You’re not a procrastinator.

You may be in the habit of procrastinating right now, but procrastination isn’t your identity.

It’s a bad habit that you can learn how to stop. 

So, the first order of business is to stop telling yourself that story. It’s only causing you more problems.

What Procrastination Looks Like In Real Life

Procrastination is not doing the things you tell yourself you want or need to do. 

Procrastination can come in the form of small things, like…
  • A small project
  • Cleaning something
  • Finishing an assignment 
Or procrastination can be for really big things, such as…
  • Getting a new job 
  • Starting a business
  • Getting married
  • Having kids
The reason your brain thinks it makes sense to procrastinate is because it feels better to NOT do what you need to do.

It’s so much easier to not get started. 

Your brain doesn’t want you to exert a lot of energy and do hard things.

You brain is always going to do what is best in this moment. Your primitive brains wants you to do the easy thing. It wants you to conserve the energy. 

Doing all of those things is really hard! 

Your brain percieves the hard thing as a threat to survival. In other words, your brain doesn’t want you leave your comfort zone.

Going for the thing that you want, trying something new, leaving your comfort zone… it all feels incredibly uncomfortable. 

You brain wants to avoid this discomfort.

But you can be on to your primitive brain. You don’t have to listen to it.

In fact, not feeling like doing something in the moment is never a good reason to not do it. Ever.

Instead, if you plan ahead of time and always do what you say you’re going to do, you’ll rewire your brain to follow through (the new habit) instead of procrastinate.

The Problem With Procrastination

The biggest problem with procrastination is this: you can procrastinate your whole life away.

Let’s say you want to get a new job. You can procrastinate this for years. You can be stuck at the same job year after year. Without acquiring any new skills or doing anything about it. You have no idea what to do next. So, you stay stuck. You could’ve started a new job three years ago and learned new skills, but instead, you think you’ll do it “someday.”

Someday” is today.

Your dreams can’t wait.
Your life can’t wait.

You owe it to yourself and to the world to show up and go all in ON YOU.

Procrastination will kill this for you, if you let it.

The Causes Of Procrastination

I think it’ll be helpful to go through the causes of procrastination. This will help you better understand where it comes from so you can see how solveable it is.

There are 5 different things that can bring about procrastination…

1. Your Brain 

The first cause of procrastination is your brain.

Your primitive brain is going to choose to resist doing those things that you want to do. Your brain is going to look for things that are more enjoyable. Always and forever.

It’s so much more fun to not do the things you have to do. You have to overcome the lack of motivation. Choose the short term discomfort. You have to realize it’s more important to become what and who you want to be. 

2. Fear of Failure

The second cause of procrastination is a fear of failure.

You already think that you’re going to fail so you don’t see the point. By deciding you’re going to fail if you try, you’re already failing ahead of time. 

You’re deciding failure is a bad thing so you want to avoid it. 

However, failure isn’t a bad thing. Failure is just missing the mark. You can always try again.

Failure doesn’t define you. It’s just feedback. The first time you did things, it didn’t work. You have the chance to try again, but this time with more information. 

Redefining failure removes it as a cause for procrastination. 

3. Perfectionism 

The third cause of procrastination is perfectionism.

You may believe that everything you do needs to be perfect. 

I like to say, “perfectionism is for scared people.” 

If you think things need to be perfect, you’re afraid. You may fear that you’re not ready yet. You may be afraid what you’re doing isn’t good enough. 

You’re allowing what you’re doing to say something about who you are. 

Something not being perfect should not be a reason to not do it all. 

This may counterintuitive, but unlearning perfectionism can be life changing. 

Producing something and getting it out into the world, no matter what it looks like, is so great. Don’t let perfectionism stop you.

4. No Plan

The fourth cause of procrastination is NOT having a plan.

You have no idea what to do. You may be spinning around in “I don’t know.” 

What I like to say is, “if I did know, what would I do?” 

Not having a plan is a little bit of a victim mentality. It’s waiting for something outside of you to happen. It’s almost as if you’re saying that you’re incapable of finding the solution yourself. 

This just isn’t true. You’re capable. You have the ability to do it on your own. 

It’s on you to create the plan. If you aren’t afraid of failing, then you can be okay with the plan you create. Even if something goes wrong, you’re still in action. You still have control and can take the necessary steps to figure out what is next. 

Creating a plan causes action. Procrastination is causing you to stay stuck. 

You have to be willing to feel bad.

5. Feeling Bad

The final cause of procrastination is feeling bad.

When you feel bad, your brain will interpret that as a cause not to take action. 

Feeling bad isn’t a good reason to not do something. 

In any moment you want to do something, your brain is always going to have that resistance to start. You have to know to push past that. You need know that that isn’t a good reason, and do it anyways. 

When you get into the habit of starting things and doing what you say you will do. You will become more adjusted to it. Your brain will start to say, “this isn’t that bad.” It will no longer be as much of a struggle for you. 

Even when you’re feeling a lack of motivation, don’t let that be an excuse. Decide to show up for youself. Each time you do this, the next time it will be easier. 

Now, you know the causes of procrastination. I want to get you the solution to solving the procrastination problem. 

The 5 Step Solution To Solving Procrastination

I created a 5 step solution to solving your procrastination problem. If you follow all of these steps, you can stop procrastinating forever. (Yes, I’m serious, it’s completely possible for you to do!)

Here’s how to stop procrastinating…

1. Put Everything On Your Calendar In Time Slots

Step 1 is to put everything on your calendar in time slots.

This is so important. It can transform your way of doing things. 

Forget about your to-do list. When you set up a to-do list, you might see all of the things on it and feel like you don’t have enough time. 

When you add things to time slots, you put things in as results. You’re setting yourself up for success. You no longer need to feel rushed. 

Check out this free course if you’re looking for more ways to manage your time: Time Management Tools.

2. Turn Obstacles Into Strategies

Step 2 is to turn obstacles into strategies.

Think about what’s a current obstacle for you. Create a plan where that obstacle is a strategy.

I’m not talking about your mindset. I’m talking about concrete things that are part of your circumstances. 

For example, let’s say your kids interrupt you when you’re trying to work. You know this could happen ahead of time. A possible solution could be to give yourself extra time at the end of the week. You can use this for things you couldn’t finish because your kids needed attention. 

Whatever obstacles you know about ahead of time can be turned into strategies.

3. Do What’s On Your Calendar

Step 3 is to do what’s on your calendar.

You have to actually do the things you put on your calendar. You need to follow through for yourself no matter what. This is a part of being accountable to yourself. 

Self accountability is one of my favorite topics to teach on because it’s so misunderstood.

You don’t need the accountability partner. You need self accountability.

4. Plan And Allow For Discomfort 

Step 4 is to plan for and allow discomfort.

It doesn’t feel good to do what’s on your calendar. Sitting down, watching TV, and eating candy feels good.

So, expect that doing hard things feels uncomfortable.

You’re going to feel resistance, but it’s okay. Feeling negative emotion isn’t a reason not to follow through with your plan. 

If you don’t follow through with your plan on the day-of, you’re letting your toddler brain win. Then you reinforce that pattern. It now knows that by throwing a tantrum you will give into it. If, instead, you follow through, your brain will learn that you show up for yourself no matter what.

5. Evaluate What Worked And What Didn’t

Step 5 is to evaluate what worked and what didn’t.

You don’t need to beat yourself up for what went wrong (this is harmful).

When you see something that you didn’t give yourself enough time for, adjust it next time you write your calendar. If you had too much time for something, use that time for something else. 

Trust yourself to change your schedule. Also have integrity and trust yourself to stick with what you say you’re going to do. Only give yourself more time if you genuinely need it. Don’t give yourself more time to slack off and be on social media. 

It can also be really helpful to think new thoughts to help you overcome procrastination. 

Thoughts To Practice (For Overcoming Procrastination)

If you follow the process above, you’ll stop the habit of procrastinating.

I want to leave you with an added bonus of some thoughts you can think while you’re working to overcome procrastination.

Practice these thoughts to help stop your procrastination habit…
  • I’m working on overcoming procrastination.
  • I’m getting better and doing what I say I’m going to do.
  • In the past, I’ve been in the habit of procrastinating, but I’m breaking that habit now.
  • It’s impossible to “be a procrastinator” since procrastination is an action.
  • I’m willing to produce more and fail more.
  • I’m leading my life instead of reacting to it.
  • Perfectionism is for scared people.
  • I may not do it perfectly, but I’m doing it.
  • I have my own back here.

These thoughts will serve you well as you’re transitioning from your bad habit of procrastinating to your new habit of getting sh*t done!

A Final Note

Remember: you’re not a procrastinator. You’ve just fallen into a bad habit of delaying getting things done. It’s a habit, not an identity.

Your brain has convinced you it’s safer to not do things instead of achieving what you want. 

True self mastery and achievement only comes when you hold yourself accountable to yourself. It only comes when you choose to be uncomfortable in the moment for the sake of the bigger picture. 

Choose to build the life you love and don’t let discomfort stop you. 

It will always be worth it in the long run.