By Liat Mayer Weisleder and Dr. Divya Babbar

Procrastination is a common hurdle that many – if not all – of us face in our daily lives. Whether it’s putting off tasks at work, delaying household chores, or postponing personal projects – the tendency to procrastinate can hinder productivity and create stress. Thus, understanding the root of procrastination and implementing effective strategies can enable us to break free from its grip and achieve greater efficiency and fulfillment.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination can stem from a variety of underlying reasons, including:

  • Fear of Failure: Sometimes certain tasks seem unachievable or require unrealistic expectations from us, instilling a fear of failure. As a coping mechanism to protect our self-esteem, we may avoid that certain task or behavior.
  • Lack of Motivation: Have you ever had a To-Do list full of boring, tedious, uninteresting and long tasks? Postponing those for something more interesting or enjoyable feels much more motivating!
  • Overwhelm: Feeling overwhelmed by the volume or complexity of tasks can lead to a shutdown, rather than enthusiasm to tackle them head-on.
  • Mental Health: We all have good and bad days, and performing on those bad days might require double or triple the motivation, effort, and energy. This can cause a delay in our projects and might lead us to ignore some chores as well.
  • Distraction: Busy environments or headspaces can prevent us from focusing on the task at hand.

Tips to Overcome Procrastination:

While it is normal to procrastinate sometimes, here are some strategies to help you break the cycle:

  • Break Tasks into Manageable Steps: Instead of viewing tasks as overwhelming blocks, break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. This can make them feel less intimidating and easier to tackle. Start by doing what seems plausible at that time, and go from there. Try not to think ahead too much, and remember that even if progress seems small, it is taking you closer to the finish line!
  • Set Clear Goals and Deadlines: Establishing specific, achievable goals and deadlines can provide clarity and structure– motivating you to take action.
  • Remember Your Goal: When a task seems unbearable or boring, remembering its importance or how it will make you feel after achieving it can help you find the motivation you needed.
  • Seek Second Opinions: When working on a task for too long, we might lose perspective of the bigger picture. Talking with a colleague, supervisor, or friend might give you new perspectives, ideas, shortcuts, support, encouragement or keep you accountable to achieving your goal.
  • Be Kind to Yourself: Be kind to yourself when you slip up or encounter setbacks. Some days our 100% effort looks different than others, and that is okay! Give it what you got that day. Remember that everyone procrastinates from time to time, and it’s important to forgive yourself and move forward. Taking a break might seem counter-intuitive, but it might be just what you need that day to bring the focus and energy back to you.
  • Reward Yourself: Create a system of rewards for completing tasks or reaching milestones to motivate yourself to stay on track. Eat something, go outside, chat with a friend, or take a nap. Whatever is reasonable, plausible, and will get you to the finish line
  • Routine: Set a routine that enhances your productivity. Sleep, exercise and timing can affect your productivity and energy levels. This might look different for everyone, so it is important to experiment and find what makes you feel and perform at your best.

Procrastination is a common challenge that many people face, but it doesn’t have to dictate your productivity or success. By understanding the underlying reasons for procrastination and implementing effective strategies to overcome it, you can reclaim control of your time and energy, leading to greater fulfillment and achievement in both your personal and professional life.