Why Do We Procrastinate and How Can We Stop?

Deadlines: we dread them, but putting them off doesn’t solve anything. We all procrastinate from time to time, but some of us do it more habitually. In fact, about 95% of people procrastinate to some degree. It’s common, but hurts our productivity in the long run— so, how can we stop?

Long term procrastination can actually lead to serious consequences, like a significant decrease in motivation to do work. Procrastination is not the same thing as laziness, although it may lead to a feeling of guilt or shame.

Not everyone consciously procrastinates. It becomes a habit and people naturally do it. In many cases of people who procrastinate, they wait until there’s no time left to complete a task, and then complete the task on time; therefore, tricking themselves into thinking that routine of getting work done is increasing their productivity levels.

Quality work, no matter what it is, requires time and thought. Recognize procrastination as a bad habit and not as a personality trait. When you do this, it’s time to break the bad habit.

It’s important to work out why you’re procrastinating. You might find that you’re avoiding a task because it’s boring. If this is the case, try rewarding yourself with something small upon completion of the task.  Write the task in your planner and stick to it instead of waiting around to find a time that “feels right.” If you’re procrastinating because you feel overwhelmed, try breaking it up into smaller parts. Try to focus on your end goals and why you’re doing everything in the first place.

Keep a prioritized to-do list and complete the biggest tasks firsts. Many people will write menial chores in their planner and get them done first thing in the morning and then reward themselves upon completion, while procrastinating the real task at hand. Use alarms on your phones to help you pay attention to the time.

Once you've figured out what causes you to procrastinate, and which method is effective in helping you overcome the urge to procrastinate, you'll become more efficient and less stressed. Now, get out there and tackle those deadlines!