Help I can’t stop procrastinating – 4 strategies to help with putting things off

Dear Lauren,
I need your help. I can’t stop myself from procrastinating. I have so many important things to do for work and even just basic chores and I can not bring myself to do it. I have fallen so behind and it scares me because I have no control over it. I find that there is always something to distract me. When I am home, I waste all my time on social media or I immediately take a nap because I suddenly feel tired. I’m just struggling to get anything done. I don’t know why I keep doing this. I’m so mad at myself. I hate myself for being so lazy. I’m starting to think something is really wrong with me. I just keep thinking I’ll do it the next day and then before I know it, it’s the day before it’s due and I’m having an emotional breakdown! Help!

Thank you for your time,

-Miss Procrastinator

Dear Miss Procrastinator,
I understand how stressful this can be. Just keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with you and that you are not alone. There are billions of people around the world that struggle with starting/ completing tasks on a regular basis. There are many reasons to why a person may procrastinate and it may be more complicated than labeling yourself as “just being lazy”. Sometimes there are underlining feelings, fears and even memories that are triggered by the thought of completing a task. Maybe there is a pattern of certain tasks that you are trying to avoid. The result of being triggered can be a painful experience that may leave you feeling debilitated, sad and anxious. Your brain is very smart and wants to protect you so it creates a coping mechanism to prevent yourself from feeling the pain that these triggers may bring. For example, one may find themselves subconsciously avoiding a task to protect themselves from experiencing the fear of failure and feelings of inadequacy. Without having constructive coping strategies these feelings build and get buried deeper inside you. However, just because you may not be aware of the pain. It doesn’t mean that it is not there. The reasons behind each person’s struggle with procrastination is different. The key is to analyze why you are avoiding the undesirable activities and look within to gain a deeper understanding of what is making the task so undesirable. You can ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do you feel makes this task undesirable?
  • What feelings are you experiencing at the time before you realize that you need to complete this task?
  • Are there any feelings that you are trying to avoid? If so, why do you feel you are avoiding it
  • Are there any patterns to the type of tasks that you are trying to avoid?

 Keep questioning each of your responses in a non-judgmental and compassionate manner

The answers to these questions will help you get to the root of the problem. The following are some additional practical suggestions to help with your procrastination. Please keep in mind that we are all different and what works from some may not work for others. Give them a try and see what works best for you!

4 Strategies to help with Procrastination

  1. Create a To do List. Choose one priority task that needs to be completed and break it down into sub tasks. Complete each sub task.
  2. When you complete a small part of a task. Don’t shame yourself for completing the minimum requirement. Praise yourself for completing the small success that you had accomplished. It will help to motivate you in the future.
  3. Your will is stronger than you are giving yourself credit for. Do a countdown from 5 to 1 where you are breathing slowly. Once you finish the countdown take a deep breath tell yourself I can do this and just start doing the task!!
  4.  Give permission to yourself to do an activity of your choosing for 5-10 mins. Set a loud alarm for this time. Tell yourself that you are only going to do this activity until the alarm goes off. Once your alarm goes off, take a deep breath and begin the activity

Although there are many tips and tools you can use to help yourself with procrastination, it is important to remember that procrastination is not the underlining problem, it is a symptom of the real obstacle; that there is a deeper feeling that you are trying to avoid. Judging and putting yourself down will only make it more difficult to break the shame cycle that you are in. Don’t forget to celebrate your small successes, have compassion and forgive yourself during this challenging endeavor.

If you feel that you would like further assistance with finding solutions and helping you explore your reasons for procrastination, please feel free to contact me and schedule a session. I am here to support you.

Best regards,