Reduce Procrastination this October

What are the real reasons for procrastination? Are you being honest to yourself when you are procrastinating? How are you going to reduce procrastination?

The seasons are changing and the leaves are turning. In some places from green to brown, but in others, it’s the other way around. Nonetheless, it’s a time of year when the days can blur into one another and we lose track of how quickly time has passed. Before this happens, let’s remind ourselves of this month’s goal: to reduce procrastination! We often procrastinate things because they are unpleasant, but other times, we’ll procrastinate things we look forward to, simply because our priorities seem less important than others.

This month, we resolve to do something we’ve been avoiding or putting off. Perhaps it is an actual responsibility, or maybe it is a favourite hobby. Perhaps we can carve some time out for ourselves to do this, or maybe we can find creative ways to include that which served as an impediment to completing our activity. We may, in the end, benefit by bringing something we love to the people we love. Sometimes we find that work expands or shrinks to fill the time allotted. And we’ve all faced the feeling of panic of leaving something to the last minute, only to find that everything was done properly and was fine anyway, we reinforce the desire and habit of procrastination.

Meditate on the feeling of panic and stress that comes with procrastination. Is that feeling worth it? If we genuinely ruminate on this question and find that yes, it is worth it, good for you. But in the vast majority of cases, people are likely to prefer not being stressed and in a state of sweaty uncertainty. Let yourself relive this feeling and remember that it is a choice not to have to feel panicked. This may not have seemed like an option to many, but it is a choice. While we focus on reducing procrastination this month, an important thing to remember is whether we’re putting ourselves through undue stress even when it’s not necessary. Do we tend to worry about things outside of our control? Do we get anxious over the idea of starting a project when there’s no need to? Being in touch with our emotions may help us differentiate between our self inflicted stress due to procrastination or a deeper emotional issue we may need to tackle.

Reconsidering and revisiting our Key Questions:

  • What are you avoiding right now? Do you tend to avoid this type of activity?
  • What are 3 small steps to help you get started on this activity? If you get those three done, does that make the rest feel much more manageable?
  • What’s the underlying belief about yourself causing you to procrastinate? How can you show yourself that this belief is not true?

Some things to ponder:

Why do we procrastinate?

Many people procrastinate on important projects because of some inner anxiety or fear of failure. Lots of chronic procrastinators are, ironically, perfectionists. Understanding why we avoid a task is often related to other emotional or psychological things that need to be addressed. The key here is to be very honest with one's self. When you tell yourself you’ll do it later, are you just trying to drown out another quieter voice inside? Very often, this is the case.

Other times, you may find that you are avoiding a task because it is genuinely unpleasant, or boring. This might be an important insight as well. If the vast majority of the tasks you do throughout the day are unpleasant, maybe you need a career change? Maybe you procrastinate because you lack passion for your cause? Maybe the tasks are indeed boring but they serve a greater purpose. Something as simple as reminding yourself of this may be all we need to kickstart our productivity.

Deep down we all know why we do what we do. We must not fear being honest with ourselves.

What conditions maximise my productivity?

While it can be self-defeating to make sure the environment is “just right” before setting out to work, there is something important to be said about creating an ideal working atmosphere for yourself. For example, do you require ambient noise? Do you need multiple screens? Do you like open floor plans or natural light?

Ideals conditions need not be just about your physical surroundings. If you find yourself procrastinating on open-ended projects but a creative genius when on a strict deadline, create artificial deadlines for yourself. Tell your friend, supervisor, or partner that you will share project X with them before it is due. You’ll feel the pressure of keeping your word while also giving yourself a buffer to improve should it be necessary. Agree to check in with someone in regular intervals to share your progress on a project or idea. If you’ve ever written a university thesis, you’ll know that forcing yourself to take stock and view what you’ve accomplished from a bird’s eye perspective sometimes feels like a distraction but adds up to produce critical insights and spurts of headway. Accountability leads to action.


01.10.21