In this article you will discover how to stop procrastinating in your professional life and in your private life.
If you feel lost and wonder how not to put everything back in the next day, this article will meet your expectations.
The strategies you will discover will enable you to implement important behavioral changes in order to:
- Overcome procrastination
- Become more efficient
- Achieve your goals
Are you ready for a change in your life?
Discover immediately how to overcome procrastination and take action.
1 – Stop procrastinating by becoming aware of your internal dialogue
Even before procrastinating, you experience an internal dialogue that forces you into procrastination without your knowledge.
But before this dialogue takes place, your automatic thoughts give you instructions as to what you can accomplish.
Automatic thoughts are the conscious manifestation of mental processes that escape your perception but have a real impact on your emotions and actions.
Becoming aware of these automatic thoughts and the resulting inner dialogue is essential to stop procrastinating.
From now on, start noticing everything you think and what you are saying just before starting to postpone everything.
Write down the sentences that often come up and find other ones that help you improve your motivation.
If, for example, you say that you are not able to do a certain task, then you can say that you are going to do your best to do it.
This small change may seem insignificant or unnecessary, but it is the first step in reprogramming unconscious processes that influence your efficiency at work and in your private life.
These automatic thoughts can be the result of past experiences, beliefs, social or even cultural conditioning.
To remain pragmatic, simply observe how your inner dialogue evolves through awareness, change of meaning, and execution of actions that you need to implement.
A study confirms the link between automatic thoughts and the tendency to procrastinate.
2 – Stop saying that you are a procrastinator
Some people are not able to organize themselves and continue to procrastinate because they have acquired the identity of procrastinator.
For these people, it is not a mere belief in their ability to do something.
These individuals act consistently with a limited vision of what they can accomplish.
If you fall into this category of people and want to change your life for the better, you must now begin implementing changes that call into question your false identity.
Begin this process of identity change by meeting people who have a good organization and be influenced by their way of thinking.
Challenge yourself and act in accordance with a broader vision of what you can achieve.
Transgress the habits that limit you by constantly taking actions outside the comfort zone of your false identity.
Doing this will allow you in the medium term to reclaim your true identity and stop procrastinating.
Another study shows that individuals who develop the identity of procrastinator are more likely to procrastinate and to be undecided.
3 – Focus on the benefits of your actions
People who procrastinate may have a misperception of what it means to take action or may tend to imagine all the disadvantages of doing a task.
In this case, it is not surprising to procrastinate as much in the professional context as in your private life.
To overcome procrastination, you must consciously choose to focus on all the benefits of your actions.
As with automatic thoughts, or when dealing with a false identity, learning to focus on all the benefits of doing a particular action is not an easy change.
You must unlearn to focus on what might not work and learn how to use the emotions associated with the accomplishment of your action.
Take regular actions to create new habits and build self-confidence.
These small, regular actions will allow you to stop procrastinating and become more confident in your ability to manage everything.
4 – Identify side benefits
It becomes difficult to stop procrastinating if postponing your commitments overnight brings you side benefits.
For each of the situations that you push back, try to identify those with a side benefit.
Note this advantage and what you can do to take action by finding another more productive way to keep that same advantage.
By doing this, you will be able to use your energy and overcome your tendency to procrastinate.
If these side benefits still prevent you from moving forward, you may need to clarify your values.
It is possible that a side benefit can satisfy a significant value in your scale of values.
In this case, it will be necessary to think about how to manage a possible conflict of values.
5 – Stop wishing to be perfect and being influenced by the judgment of others
If you are a perfectionist and you need hours to take action and do tasks that take only a few minutes, you will quickly feel exhausted and have no motivation to take action.
If you find yourself in this description, you have established a painful mental association over acting immediately to meet your professional or private commitments.
To stop procrastinating, you must become aware of how the constant pursuit of perfection limits you in your daily work and in your personal life.
You must begin to compromise with your perfectionism by accepting the idea of taking immediate actions even if they seem incomplete or imperfect.
Then, you must create a new positive mental association regarding the idea of acting quickly in the imperfection.
Afterwards, you can perfect your actions if you really need them and use your perfectionism to your advantage.
In some cases, perfectionism is also associated with fear of other people’s judgment.
If in addition to requiring perfection from yourself, you are too vulnerable to the judgments of your professional or private circle, it will be even more difficult for you to take action.
Fear of other people’s judgment may be associated with low self-esteem.
In this case, you must decide to trust yourself and to believe in your own judgment more than that of others.
Then, you must stop constantly criticizing yourself and focusing all the time on your weaknesses.
Finally, you must take action quickly.
A recent study shows that the more people are perfectionists, the more they tend to procrastinate.
6 – Evaluate efficiently the time of each task to stop procrastinating
Have you already measured the time it takes to complete the tasks you continue to postpone?
Probably not. But do not worry, you are not the only person to do this.
The majority of people who procrastinate have no idea how long it takes to complete a given action.
To overcome this situation, you simply have to estimate the time required for each task and then you begin to take each action.
You will see that in most cases your estimation of the execution time of a task will not be the same as the real time you will need to achieve what you want.
This awareness will help you take action more easily and stop procrastinating at work and at home.
7 – Plan less and take action rapidly
Some people have become experts in planning.
They are able to create almost perfect schedules, but when they want to take action, they remain motionless and find a thousand excuses not to act.
If you find yourself in this description and want to stop procrastinating you must learn to plan less, think less and act quickly.
Choose only one task that is important to you and immediately take action to begin doing it.
Act as quickly as possible so your conscious mind does not have time to stop you.
If it takes a lot of time to complete this task and it may discourage you, break it down into much more manageable subtasks.
Once you have done this, congratulate yourself to associate pleasure to this new behavior so that it becomes your usual way of acting over time.
8 – Delegate what you do not want to do
Delegation is sometimes the best way to stop procrastinating.
If a given task becomes an unbearable or unmanageable task, you can simply decide to delegate it.
Do this as much in your private life as in your professional life.
For each of your commitments that you want to get rid of, define the person who will take care of it and call this person to get rid of your responsibility right away.
It is better to delegate all the tasks that:
- are not important to you
- take away energy
- others can do better than you
- cost you too much in terms of human and / or material resources
9 – Focus on tasks that enable you to achieve important goals
How can you stop procrastinating if you focus your energy and abilities on tasks that do not bring you anything important?
Make a list of the actions you are postponing for a long time and see if they are really important to you. If they are not, eliminate them or delegate them.
Set important goals for you, commitments that allow you to reach your potential and to act quickly and effectively.
Then, plan your schedule by including the actions that will allow you to turn your goals into reality.
Give a date and a duration to each of the actions you will implement.
Then, evaluate whether your actions are effective and what you can do to become more successful.
Learn from your mistakes and keep progressing.
If procrastination shows up again, act immediately, break down the problems into simpler tasks, delegate or eliminate.
A study shows that setting concrete goals or a concrete deadline to complete a task reduces procrastination.
10 – Eliminate distractions and set clear limits with distractors
Eliminating distractions when you are about to take important or urgent actions is essential.
Whether it is your mobile phone or any other situation that may affect your level of attention, it is in your best interest to get rid of things that prevent you from achieving your most important goals.
For example, distractors are people who distract you when you are working in your office or at home.
Set clear boundaries with distractors and suggest agreement so they do not disturb you.
A noisy or uncomfortable work environment can also become a distractor.
An object that makes you think of one of your favorite hobbies is also a distractor.
The tendency to stop an important task to focus on an unimportant one like for example checking your mailbox 20 times a day, is again a distractor.
Identify all distractions and distractors.
For each of them, decide how you will manage them so they do not slow you down further in pursuit of your important goals.
Try to use your break times to distract and recharge yourself.
Final conclusion on how to stop procrastinating and how not to put everything back in the morning
In this article, you have become aware that procrastination encompasses an important psychological component.
By understanding what is limiting you and making the necessary changes, you will be able to create new habits, become more efficient and satisfied.
Before finishing this article, here are our 10 tips on how to stop procrastinating:
- Become aware of your internal dialogue
- Free yourself from the identity of procrastinator
- Focus on the benefits of immediate action
- Identify side benefits
- Overcoming the need for perfectionism and other people’s judgment
- Evaluate the time needed to complete your tasks
- Plan less and act more
- Delegate or eliminate tasks
- Focus on the actions that allow you to achieve important goals
- Manage distractions and distractors
Here is also an infographic that summarizes these same concepts:
To go further in understanding procrastination
Definitions of procrastination
An unambiguous definition of procrastination does not exist because the concept has evolved over time.
Here are some definitions proposed by some reference authors. The procrastimation is defined as:
- “the act of unnecessarily delaying tasks to the point of experiencing subjective discomfort” (Solomon & Rothblum, 1984).
- the delay determined by “avoiding the implementation of an intention”, Van Eerde (2000)
- a systematic delay in performing urgent and important tasks or in making decisions, which are perceived as such, accompanied by a set of negative emotions and obviously leading to a deterioration of the situation or outcome (Kovylin, 2013, Milgram & al., 1992)
- prefer the achievement of short-term goals such as feeling good immediately instead of trying to achieve long-term goals (Rebetez et al., 2016)
Recent studies in psychology on procrastination
The 3 dimensions of procrastination
Over the years and with a better understanding of this phenomenon, we have moved from a one-dimensional conception to a multidimensional vision of procrastination. In keeping with this evolution, Harriott & Ferrari (1996) propose 3 dimensions of procrastination:
- procrastination of excitation: the tendency to intentionally postpone the completion of certain tasks until the last minute
- procrastination avoidance: is characterized by fear of failure, aversion to the task, and / or fear of success
- decision-making procrastination: involves postponing decision-making
Different forms of procrastination: passive and active procrastination
Research on procrastination is evolving and showing a difference between what is identified with the common term procrastination and an active form of procrastination. In this sense, Chu & Choi (2005) propose the existence of two types of procrastinators.
On one side are the passive procrastinators who postpone their tasks until the last minute because of their inability to make the decision to act within the time limits.
On the other hand, we find active procrastinators who decide to procrastinate intentionally, using their strong motivation when under pressure of time and they are able to complete a task before the deadline and to achieve satisfactory goals. .
According to Chu & Choi active procrastination is characterized by 4 factors:
- the preference for time pressure
- the intentional decision to procrastinate
- the ability to meet deadlines
- satisfaction with the result
Rebeteza, Lucien Rochat, Gaya & Van der Lindena (2014) test the validity of the French version of the Pure Procrastination Scale, a scale proposed by Steel (2010) intended to measure the general notion of dysfunctional delay. These authors show that:
- not to be conscientious (psychological trait conscience)
- the lack of perseverance
- the poor subjective well-being
are closely related to passive procrastination.
Sirois & Tosti (2012) and Habelrih & Hicks (2015) show that a high psychological well-being predicts active procrastination and that it is the opposite for passive procrastination.
Different types of procrastinators
Sapadin and Maguire (1996) state that ‘procrastination is determined by internal conflict’ and identify six basic styles of procrastination:
- The perfectionist who is reluctant to start or finish a task in the event that it proves that he is less than perfect and therefore that it is seen as a personal failure and / or compared to others;
- he dreamer wants life to take place in the best conditions and avoids difficult challenges. Grand ideas are not converted into achievable goals. He tends to fall back into his dreams;
- The worrier is afraid that things will go wrong and be overtaken by events (many thoughts ‘What if …?’); he avoids risk and change and has little confidence in his ability to make decisions or tolerate discomfort;
- The defier is resistant and argumentative towards the other “instructions or suggestions” because it means being told what to do or that others are controlling him. An indirect form of provocation is passive aggression, like saying ‘yes’ to the requests of others when in reality the person means ‘no’ because he is not prepared to take responsibility for doing it in the allotted time;
- The crisis-maker likes arrogance by saying that he can not feel motivated until 11 am because that’s when he works best; ‘Live on the edge of the razor’ gives him an adrenaline boost. He bears very little boredom in his life. To leave things at the last minute often means that they will not be realized in time or that opportunities will be missed;
- The overdoer takes on too much work without establishing what his priorities are; the time is inefficiently managed and the work is not done, or it is badly done.
Factors that affect the tendency to procrastinate
Procratination and personality factors
Procrastination is positively correlated with neuroticism and has a strong negative relationship with being conscientious (Johnson, & Bloom, 1995, Lay & al., 1998, Milgram, & Tenne, 2000, Schouwenburg, & Lay, 1995).
Steel (2007) conducts a meta-analysis of the possible causes and effects of procrastination, based on 691 correlations showing that:
- postponing the task
- being conscientious (trait of conscience) and its components: self-control, inattention, organization and motivation for success
are strong and consistent predictors of procrastination. The trait of consciousness remains the most strongly associated with procrastination. In this same meta-analysis, Steel shows that interventions that promote automaticity reduce procrastination.
Self-esteem, self-efficacy and motivation for success are negatively correlated with procrastination (Boysan & Kiral 2016, Cerino 2014, Effert & Ferrari 1989, Ellis & Knaus 1977).
Procrastination is greatest among people who have a more negative view of the past and who are more at risk and less likely to set goals and meet deadlines.
Procrastination and lifestyle
Gröpel & Steel (2008) show that:
- set goals
- increased interest in the task
- a better level of energy
reduce the tendency to procrastinate, with increasing interest in the task, thus increasing the energy level and reducing procrastination.
Lifestyle is therefore a predictor of the procrastinating tendency, for example, poor quality of sleep influences both general procrastination and procrastination at work, and the tendency to procrastinate at work is major when sleep quality is low but only for individuals with a low level of self-control. Sirois Argiropoulou and Van Eerde (2015) show the negative impact of procrastination on the quality of sleep also among students.
Procrastination and management of emotions
Beleaua and Cocoradă (2015) show a positive correlation between procrastination and avoidance coping strategies. This is in agreement with Eckert & al. (2016), who show that the ability to deal adaptively with unpleasant emotions reduces the likelihood of procrastinating in the future.
In this sense, Wohl & al. (2010) and Martinčeková & Enright (2018) show that forgiving one’s own procrastination reduces the tendency to procrastinate in the future by facilitating focus on new tasks.
(Sirois and Pychyl, 2013) show that procrastinators have a dysfunctional regulation of their emotions leading them to focus more on the management of the discomfort experienced in the short term and not to take into account the benefits of the taking of a given action.
Various factors influencing procrastination
Ellis and Knaus (1977) define procrastination as the result of three root causes: self-belittlement (negative and contemptuous internal dialogue), low tolerance for frustration, and hostility.
Several factors contributing to procrastination have been identified in the scientific literature, such as feeling overwhelmed, lack of motivation, perfectionism, poor time management, and organizational skills (Burka, & Yuen, 1990; Marshevsky, & Sadeh, 1995, Rothblum, Solomon, & Murakami, 1986, Solomon, & Rothblum, 1984).
Stephen, Wilcox, Laran, and Zubcsek (2014) show that people who are very busy and have a lot of work to do, procrastinate less than those who are less busy. Being busy reduces the negative emotions associated with not meeting deadlines and therefore reduces the choice to procrastinate.
Procrastination and brain function
At the cerebral level it has been shown that:
- different parts of the brain are activated and individuals who have a greater tendency to procrastinate are those who have a greater difficulty in identifying the benefits of performing a given task
- the middle central gyrus and the frontal orbitol cortex are the key areas of self-control and emotion regulation and may have an important role in procrastination
The disadvantages of procrastination on health
The disadvantages of procrastination are numerous:
- depression, anxiety, stress (Chu and Choi, 2005) and neuroticism (Milgram and Tenne, 2000)
- depression with students Saddler and Sacks (1993)
- depression in a population between 14 and 95 years old Beutel, Klein, Aufenanger, Brähler, Dreier, Müller, Quiring, Reinecke, Schmutzer, Stark, and Wölfling (2016)
- increased stress, decreased performance in performing a task, reduced well-being, regret and suffering, and the risk of physical and mental illness (Tice and Baumeister 1997, Steel 2007, Klingsieck 2013; Steel and Ferrari, 2013, Sirois, 2014)
- poor quality of sleep (Hairston and Shpitalni, 2016; Sirois, van Eerde, and Argiopoulou, 2015), mood disorders (Sirois and Kitner, 2015, Sirois and Pychyl, 2013), and symptoms of depression and of anxiety (Beutel et al., 2016)
- professional burnout Shahbaziyankhonig, Mesrabadi and Eftekharifar (2017) and burnout among university students Lee & Choi (2014)
- physical health with students Ni, Zhang, Zhao & al. (2012)
- propensity to suicide Klibert, Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Luna and Robichaux (2011)
Sirois and Tosti (2012) show that procrastination is associated with higher perceived stress and lower perceived health. According to these authors, mindfulness (attentive presence) mediates the relationship between procrastination and stress and health. Summarizing, procrastinators experience more stress and less well-being compared to non-procrastinators because they have lower levels of mindfulness.
Sirois (2013) shows that procrastination is associated with high levels of stress and low levels of self-compassion. According to this author, self-compassion has a mediating role in the relationship between stress and procrastination. In summary, procrastinators experience more stress than non-procrastinators because they have lower levels of self-compassion.
Some approaches to overcome procrastination
Karas & Spada (2007) show that a few months of behavioral cognitive coaching has a positive impact on procrastination at the decisional and behavioral levels.
In the same vein, Mühlberger & Traut-Mattausch (2015) show that individual coaching is more effective than group coaching in reducing procrastination.
Van Eerde & Klingsieck (2018) conduct a meta-analysis of 24 studies in psychology to identify the best approaches to reduce procrastination and show that the cognitive-behavioral approach is the one that most reduces procrastination.
This article on how to stop procrastinating is over.
Before you leave, i would like to ask you a question.
How will you use what you have just learned to improve the quality of your life and when will you start taking action?