What are some ways to avoid procrastinating?
Sometimes it’s not easy to focus. In fact, it can be really hard to snap back into work mode.
Are you ready to drop whatever’s holding you back and do the thing you’re meant to be doing?
I know, it’s easy to say, “Yes,” but it’s harder to actually buckle down and do it. And that’s because sometimes we don’t even really understand why we aren’t focusing properly.
Procrastination can sometimes be like a riddle we’ve gotta figure out. In order to figure out how to stop procrastinating now, we gotta figure out why we’re procrastinating.
Because there is a reason.
There’s always a reason, and sometimes we know it in the back of our minds but we push it away—and sometimes we have no clue. We really can’t figure out why we’re being so weird.
Maybe you’re just procrastinating a little. Putting off doing something small.
Or maybe, you’ve been in a slump and you can’t pick yourself back up. You find you’re just kinda putting it all off all the time. Shooing it to “later”.
The same things you used to do don’t give you that happy edge. Your inspiration is dry as hell.
Well, you guessed it. This is where you gotta do some digging.
Just because you can’t find the motivation does not mean it isn’t there. Something’s blocking it, and it’s in your head.
Figuring out the causes of procrastination is one of the most important steps. Let’s get started!
How to Stop Procrastinating Now
#1. Figure Out Why You’re Procrastinating
Yup. Figure out why you are procrastinating. Once you understand the causes of procrastination you can start working on a fix.
This is a big one, so it’s gonna have its own subheadings. This really is the most important step because it can run really deep and be hard to figure out. But don’t worry, I’ve got some examples to help you.
So, what causes procrastination?
A. Comparing Yourself to Others
Looking up to other people in your field is awesome and inspiring, but sometimes it might do a flip.
Are you comparing yourself to others in your field who are super successful and instead of feeling inspired, you feel daunted? Does doing this make you feel overwhelmed? Like you’ll never reach that level because you don’t have their skills or their time or resources?
Comparison is a quick way to shut yourself down, and it’s pointless.
Whatever you are aiming to create, it will never be the same as anyone else’s work. This is actually a strength. Only you can do what you can do.
But sometimes that seems like a bad thing, especially when negative self-talk takes over.
“I’m not good enough. This is a waste of time. It’s so tiring…”
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Negative self-talk is a total jerk, but it’s something we all face. It can definitely rear its ugly head when you’re in a slump.
If you’re finding yourself being overwhelmed, remember what the person you are comparing yourself to really is to you.
A role model. Be grateful they are around for you to look up to, and keep looking up to them. Don’t compare yourself.
B. Negative Associations
Maybe, without realising it, you’ve begun associating negative stressors to your passion or to your project, or whatever it is you are procrastinating on.
Kinda like the above point, what once drove you is now stressing you out.
It can be because of comparison, time restraints, other people being unsupportive, or a technical issue that’s holding you back. It may even just be fatigue.
You might’ve burnt yourself out working so hard.
We all get excited about projects and build momentum, but that’s not gonna keep one hundred percent of the time. If you want to know how to avoid procrastination, you’ve gotta understand the balance of work and rest.
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You also should understand you aren’t always gonna be amped. And that’s fine. Give yourself rest—but remember to come back refreshed and more productive.
Usually the negative associations pair with another item on this list, so keep reading to shake off the negativity.
This article on Mindtools on self-sabotaging is super helpful in understanding how negativity affects goal setting, productivity, and how it enforces procrastination. Check it out if this rings a bell to you.
C. Unexpected Tasks
You’ve taken a turn in your journey you didn’t expect or aren’t proud of—or just didn’t see coming and don’t know how to handle it.
Let’s see. This one’s sneaky because it sidles up all incognito and can appear in different forms. Causes of procrastination aren’t always clear and easy to pinpoint.
What’s picking at you? A new task you need to complete? Graphics you didn’t think you’d need to make? Or you might start doing things outside of your original goal.
You started out with one goal in mind: You wanted to make people laugh so you started a funny webcomic as a hobby. You love drawing and telling stories, so it’s perfect.
But then as you go on, two things happen.
You read about other artists who have thousands of followers and are making a living off what they’re doing, and you want that.
Of course, you do. Isn’t it everyone’s dream to do what they love for a living?
It is always okay to tweak, upgrade, or change a goal, but don’t forget where you are at.
You expect these things, now. You’ve forgotten why you started this webcomic, and now you’re only thinking about how to increase readers and make money.
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Now, increasing readers and making money isn’t a bad goal—but it isn’t the goal you had in mind so chances are your game plan isn’t as refined as it could be.
Now you’re stressed out, feeling useless, and measuring the worth of yourself through how much money your project does or does not make.
I can see this being pretty crippling, can’t you?
It’s not to say you can’t achieve all three goals in this scenario: but you have to change your mindset to a more business orientated one than a casual, I’ll-update-when-I-feel-like-it one.
Reset and plan and that will show you how to stop procrastinating now. You want to enjoy what you’re doing, so be authentic and informed as you grow!
You’re trying to make everything too perfect.
When you are just stuck at one step for days trying to perfect it, two things are gonna happen:
- It’s gonna get old.
- You’re never gonna get it perfect.
Sometimes the important thing is to just get something out there. Do what you wanna do without obsessing about what it looks like. You want to look professional, but that’s gonna take practice.
So go back when you have more time, more energy, and more insight, to improve upon it.
There’s no rule to say you can’t doll up things you’ve already done.
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Remember, this is a form of fear of failure, which you should shift away from. Don’t be afraid to look silly. Be more afraid not to reach your goals because you’re afraid of being afraid and—just don’t get caught up in your own head.
If you’re struggling with this, I’ve written a post about How Fear of Rejection Holds us Back.
The more you try, failing or winning, the smarter and better you get.
Also, remember: nothing will ever be perfect because you can’t please everyone. What works for one person may not work for the next.
So you do you!
E. The Fun is Gone
Always remember why you want to do what you want to do.
Remember why you’re involved in a project, why you’ve talked to a person, why you started something new.
There’s a reason for it. It could just be a curiosity, but maybe there’s something you truly wanted to pursue to learn or better yourself.
Don’t forget your goals. If you do, whatever activity you’re involved in may lose meaning.
Don’t become a total slave to your project, either, because then you might find it becomes something you have to do instead of something you want to do.
Life is about living it, you know. We only have a short time, so we gotta make the most of it, and having as much fun and enjoying yourself as much as possible is a huge part of that.
We want to tie our goals to what we love to do most. If you forget that, it should come as no surprise why you’re having difficulty keeping on track!
F. You’re Stuck
So you’re a bit stuck. You’ve been chugging away and all of a sudden, you don’t know what to do next.
If you want to know how to stop procrastinating now, you’ve gotta determine what’s holding you back.
Maybe you’re even stuck at the starting point. How do you find a vocal coach who gets your voice? And once you find one, how do you afford it? How do you fit time into your schedule?
Research and plan. Always have a plan!
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Set aside time, money, resources—and if you haven’t, then those are your first steps. Outline what it is you need to do, gather the necessary materials, and take it one day at a time.
There’s no one path to take, but by learning and gathering the information you can hone in your focus and what you need to do to make progress.
If you know how to counter causes of procrastination right off the bat, you’ve got an advantage! That’s how you can stop procrastinating now.
#2. Avoid Procrastination Fueling Distractions
There are so many distractions nowadays!
Yeah, this one’s pretty obvious, but it’s also one of the hardest tips to follow. I mean, that phone. It’s right there, and it’s blinking at you.
So turn it off, turn it over, throw it across the room—just get it away!
We are very blessed to live in a world with entertainment at our fingertips, but it’s also kinda . . . oh crap. Now there’s entertainment at our fingertips. Our society is fast-based, exciting, and it’s hard to ignore it.
So we gotta try extra hard. Let it be your reward for a job well done (only if it’s a job well DONE).
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Set aside some time, whatever you are comfortable with, where it’s just you and the object of your goals. Have some sweet time with it because you two haven’t spent much time together lately.
It’s catch up time. Devote your attention, one hundred percent, because you deserve to stay on track.
What really helps me is to work first thing in the morning. Sometimes I don’t even check my phone until I’ve completed one task, or worked for a full hour.
Whatever you are procrastinating on, make it your priority!
A huge pulling point on our brains to give into distractions is also because of the instant gratification you’ll get from doing it. You watch TV and get entertained and feel happy for a few minutes, whereas working on your project wouldn’t release results for another two weeks or wherever you’re at.
We’re built to want instant gratification even though it may go against what we’re really striving for.
#3. Find Your Real Interests to Stop Procrastinating
You had a fire lit under your ass, but now it’s gone. Why? You were so into your new project, and then one day you woke up and just didn’t get to it.
This may be because you really don’t have any true interest in the task that you’ve started.
Maybe you began it because it was all the rage, or you thought you’d enjoy it, or it could’ve been another awesome hobby to add to your day.
But in the end, the novelty wore off, and now you wanna go about and try something else.
Don’t panic and don’t think of yourself as a lazy dumbo or failure or any other negative crud.
It is okay, you know. It really is okay to have trial and error. Or to even have false starts. It’s great to try new things, new routes, new adventures. It’s okay to not enjoy something you were once gung-ho about.
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You’ve lost interest—now thank the experience, and get to the next. Once you find something you fall in love with, you’ll know.
If you are experiencing temporary laziness, then you’ll also know that, too, because you’ll keep being drawn back into the project.
If you’re like this, then maybe the next point is all you need:
#4. Switch it Up to Beat Procrastination
You know, you are gonna get bored even with the most exciting project at times. No matter the goal, you can’t be enthused all the time. You aren’t a game show host (unless, uh, you are).
I make to-do lists to help me focus for the day.
Once, I got bored of my to-do list. It was a weird thing to get bored of, but because of this, I didn’t want to fill it out. It was just so routine (I know, I know—isn’t that kinda half the point?).
So all I did was get a new outline format. I just downloaded a fancy new planner and suddenly I was all for filling out these blank spaces and playing connect the dots.
Maybe you need to do something a bit bigger to give you a push.
Change your surroundings if you find your go-to space isn’t inspiring you anymore. Head to a coffee shop to work or go to the local library. Surround yourself with things that inspire you and urge you to keep kicking ass.
Causes of procrastination can be tricky. You’ll be surprised what’s putting you off. Maybe it’s your messy room, maybe it’s the smell of your roomie’s cooking. If you never get up and try somewhere new, you’ll never know.
Tired of working in your room? Try using a coworking space.
Don’t just sit there being unproductive, get up or switch it up to stop procrastinating right now.
#5. Stop Making Excuses for Your Procrastinating
You’ve got all the reasons in the world to not get on track, right?
You don’t have the money, or the time, or the patience. You’ve got all these other things to do instead. You can’t quit your job to focus on your startup company because you need money for this and that.
Procrastinating isn’t just about meeting a deadline at work. It can be about starting your own life. I mean, the life you really want.
Most people don’t ever follow their dreams, and that’s just not cool.
It’s because it’s so easy to talk ourselves out of it. Everyone else around you likely has a downer mindset. You say you wanna quit your job to start your own business, and people will think you’re drunk.
But you aren’t, and you know you aren’t, because if you weren’t meant to quit your job and travel the world for a living, then why the hell do you wanna do it so bad? Why can’t you stop thinking about it, and why aren’t you happy now?
Stop and listen to yourself. If you find you’re always making excuses, chances are you’ve got a really big, bold, beautiful goal and you haven’t accomplished it yet.
So are you making excuses for not taking action on your goals, or on your dream life?
#6. Beat Procrastion By Keeping Your Goals in Mind
The single best way that I’ve found to stop procrastinating is to always keep your goals in mind.
Whether that’s mental reminders, phone reminders, stickies all over your apartment, keep your goals in mind.
If you remember what you’re going for, you’ll be more inclined to stop procrastinating.
You will understand all the necessary steps. Even the boring ones matter. Every small thing you do is apart of something much greater and that greater-ness is your goals.
Think ahead but don’t overdo it. Think, in six months, where do you want to be? In a year?
Think of all the work you can get done in those time spans, and think—will you in a year look back and be proud?
Or will you have another year analysis where you wonder where your time went and why you aren’t closer to your dreams?
The Printable Slay Your Goals Guide
Ready to stop procrastinating right now and focus on achieving your goals instead? Get your FREE Printable Slay Your Goals Guide, and let’s get goal slaying.
In the end, take ownership for your own procrastination
No one’s stopping you but yourself, so start ASAP!
Now you know how to stop procrastinating now and get done exactly what you need to get done.
How do you stop procrastinating now?
More About Guest Contributor
Kelli Ryan is a blogger and freelance writer who enjoys anything and everything creative, inspiring, or motivating. She writes about lifestyle, finances, and being the best you that you can be. Connect with her at Kryan Writes.