How Do You Stop Procrastinating?

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you regularly put things off that you know you need to do? Most of us put off unpleasant tasks from time to time, but if you continually struggle to make decisions and get things done, there may be some underlying issues. Research suggests that many people procrastinate as a way of coping with negative emotions associated with certain tasks. The problem arises when people stop making any significant progress in their lives as a result of continually postponing positive activities that would, in fact, help them to move forward and lead much happier lives. In this blog, we explore some of the underlying issues connected to procrastination and ways you can break the cycle…

The link between anxiety and depression

Many studies have shown direct links between procrastination and anxiety, as well as depression. If you are suffering from either condition – or both – you are much more likely to have negative and repetitive thoughts, which in turn can lead to you putting off any tasks that you do not wish to do. You could be ruminating about the past or worrying about the future and these negative thought patterns may be stopping you from talking positive action in your life. This can be a very hard cycle to break, especially if you are feeling very low.

Why do we procrastinate?

As well as anxiety and depression, there are many other reasons why we tend to procrastinate. Sometimes this is due to a lack of structure in our lives, especially in the workplace where easy online access can interrupt our daily activities – e.g. checking Facebook when you should be doing a work-related task. Most of us will put off unpleasant tasks occasionally by finding more enjoyable activities instead. Many people claim to work best under pressure, regularly delivering tasks at the very last minute. Although this form of procrastination may work for some, most people will usually find this approach only increases their stress levels and results in lower quality work. However, sometimes people avoid certain activities due to a lack of self-confidence or self-esteem, which could be connected to anxiety and depression, or other conditions. Therefore, it’s important to identify the real reasons behind your procrastination.

5 tips for breaking the cycle

Whatever the reasons behind your procrastination tendencies, there are several ways you can start working towards breaking any negative cycles.

1. Stop catastrophising

Do you look at certain tasks and imagine the worst? No matter how tough or painful the task may seem, try and keep your thinking in perspective. Consider the reality and practicality of how you will achieve the task. And, if you have done this task before, you can do it again…

2. Start visualising

Why do you need to do the task? Take a step back for a moment; visualise how you will feel once it has been completed. Then think about how you will feel if you do not complete the task. If you avoid taking any action, you will continue to feel stressed.

3. Schedule your diary

Whether your task is personal or work-related, book the task in by using the calendar on your smart phone. Add alerts and reminders so you don’t forget. Most tasks will require you to be focused – by blocking time out in your diary, you are much more likely to succeed.

4. Begin with bitesize chunks

If you have a large task to do, it’s nearly always better to break this down into bitesize chunks of time to enable you to make steady progress on a regular basis. For example, if you have a job that is going to take at least 5 hours, you could work on this each day for one hour. You could devote one hour simply to plan the task, which will help you to mentally process what you need to do ready for the next session.

5. Stop making excuses and start to forgive

If you hear yourself constantly saying ‘I should’ve’ or ‘I would’ve’, don’t beat yourself up or feel as if you’ve failed. Some studies show that by forgiving yourself for putting things off, you are much more likely to stop procrastinating! So, look at the real reasons behind why you might be avoiding certain tasks – does the task worry or even frighten you in some way?

Getting support to stop procrastinating

There are many other ways you can break the cycle of procrastination, but if you’re experiencing high levels of stress, then it might be time to talk to a counsellor or therapist, especially if you are suffering from any form of anxiety or depression.

If you would like support with your procrastination or another problem, please get in touch. We provide a private and confidential setting, so you can openly discuss your feelings free from any judgement. Together we will find the root cause of your issues, so you can move forward and lead a much happier life.