Procrastination – How to Put it Off!

Procrastination – how to put it off

Being a procrastinator is hard enough – so don’t let anyone try to tell you you’re lazy, as well! The two sets of behaviours are totally different, and in fact, procrastinators are often busy, active, people. It’s just they have difficulty, and sometimes even find it impossible, to attend to some tasks which they know have to be undertaken.

Procrastination – the habit of delaying an action – is responsible for a raft of problems that play out in everyday life, and can cause a headache for the procrastinator as well as their friends, family, and colleagues. It can affect everyday domestic life (such as failing to pay bills on time and not attending to household maintenance), but can also have even more serious ramifications. These can include delaying going to a medical professional when symptoms suggest an appointment would be wise, and relationships deteriorating to the point of no return simply because necessary discussion is put off for too long. Procrastinators can find themselves facing demotion or job loss through a failure to meet deadlines, and can even lapse into depression and anxiety as a result of their inaction. So just what is behind such debilitating behaviour?

Many procrastinators fear failure – something that can be a real consideration for the best of us. But the procrastinator’s fear is so great they would rather put off the difficult task than begin it. Even when a task isn’t particularly difficult, it may be the procrastinator has such a high degree of perfectionism they, at some level, understand success, for them, will never be obtainable. Other procrastinators put off a task because it feels overwhelming, or because past experience has taught them, should they fail, they will be blamed, criticised, punished, shamed, or rejected. No wonder, then, avoidance can feel like the perfect escape. And for the avoider, distractions are unfortunately all too readily available.

When seriously worried about completing a task, it can feel soothing to turn to social media, comfort food, alcohol, or to overindulge in even healthy activities such as working out or volunteering. In the end, one uncompleted task piles up on another until life becomes chaotic. If this sounds like you, or someone you care about, the following steps can often help to overcome procrastination:


Acknowledge the difficulty of the task – if it’s tricky, time-consuming, or simply something you know you won’t enjoy doing, accept this. The moment you do, you’ve already given yourself a pat on the back for even being willing to ‘give it a go.’

Break it down

Break the task down into components, and tick them off as you go. Attending to the rust spots on the car, for instance, involves identifying problem spots, sanding, treating, undercoating, and top-coating. You may even want to note down a realistic time-frame for each component. When you look at a task realistically, you will feel much more in control and able to proceed.

Prepare, partake, pack up

Don’t try to achieve every step of a task in a single session. Preparation is half the work, so assemble everything you need for the task the day before you tackle it. In fact, much of the ‘nutting out’ of a task occurs incidentally, while you are assembling what you need. Be realistic about the time it will take to pack up the equipment. It’s likely to take a similar amount of time to the preparation!

Be kind to yourself

Life doesn’t demand we give more than our best. If you suspect you’re being over-zealous, check in with a trusted friend and ask for their opinion. Chances are, you’re being too hard on yourself.


Plan rewards along the way to completing the task. Once you’ve identified those rust spot on the car, enjoy a coffee or reading a magazine article. When you’re half way through the task, treat yourself with a walk in the park or a short catch-up with family. When everything is done and dusted, take your bestie out for drink!

Procrastination doesn’t have to hobble you. But if you’re finding you can’t quit the habit, even with the steps above, check in with your GP to find out where you can get professional help.