Twelve Top Strategies to Stop Procrastinating

By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC

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Procrastination can cause many problems in your life. The good news is that it is simply a bad habit that you can change if you are willing to put in the effort.

There are a number of reasons for procrastinating, so your first task is to determine the reasons you are procrastinating. Are you afraid of failure? Do you fear success? Do you have a little negative voice in your head telling you that nothing you do is ever good enough?

Once you discover “whys” behind your procrastination, you can take steps to make procrastination a thing of the past and enjoy a more successful life. Here are twelve strategies you can try:

1. Do the hardest and most unpleasant tasks first 

Get them out of the way so you can feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. Everything else will seem easy after that.

2. Break down big projects into smaller ones 

Do a little bit, then move on to another part of the project. Eventually these blocks of work will all add up to a complete project.

3. Schedule work time and break time  

Sometimes you don’t need long hours to complete a task - just consistent, focused effort for short periods of time. Work for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes. Do this for 4 sessions, then give yourself a reward of a longer break such as 15 to 30 minutes. Continue in this manner until you complete the task, and then move to the next item on your to-do list.

4. Transform your tasks

If you find the task dull, boring or difficult, turn these negatives into a positive. For example, if it is dull, promise yourself a reward once it is done. If the task is difficult, what wonderful new things will you learn in the process of accomplishing it?

5. Avoid perfectionism

Remember that it does not have to be perfect; it just needs to get done. Do your best, but don’t miss a deadline either.

6. Keep your work area organized 

Make sure you have everything you need to do the job in the same place. Also keep your computer organized by using folders and file names with keywords in them that accurately describe the contents.

7. Ask for help if you need it 

Often a project might just seem too overwhelming. Ask others who have the skills you need to help you get the job done.

8. Reward yourself after the work is complete 

Do something nice in your breaks. Organize a fun activity once the work is finished.

9. Manage your time 

Use planners and diaries to keep track of all deadlines. Give yourself a cushion so you are not stressed and working down to the wire.

10. Establish your priorities 

Deadlines are a fact of life. Determine what must be done first, but be prepared to switch from one task to another if your current assignment is due at the end of the week but a new one comes in that needs to be done by the end of the day.

11. Focus on finishing

Don’t work hard for a while and then just peter out. Stay focused on getting to the end even if it means pushing through. Edit as needed once the job is done.

12. Turn off your inner critic

As you are working, just let it flow. If you are writing, don’t agonize over every word or typo. Review and edit it all at the end as you push towards your deadline.

Once you have tackled the bad habit of procrastination, you will soon start to create an impressive track record of accomplishments of which you can be justly proud.


 Additional Resources

5 Ways to Get Motivated

7 Common Obstacles to Your Goals and How to Navigate Them

7 Ways to Be More Productive at Home and Work

Achieve Greater Success with a Daily Motivating Regimen

Achieve Your Goals Regardless of the Obstacles

Are Your Self-Limiting Beliefs Holding You Back from Success?

Building and Practicing Self-Confidence

Make Procrastination Harder

Manage Your Time Like a Boss

The 10 Most Common Time Management Mistakes

The Downside of Perfection