Mia Hewett

Overcoming Procrastination: Why You Do It and How to Stop

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Procrastination. We’re all guilty of it. 

We’ve all put something off. And put it off. And then kept putting it off until it couldn’t wait any longer. Or worse, until it became a serious problem. 

But something needs to change when procrastinating becomes a daily occurrence — a normal part of your approach to difficult tasks.

Because when you avoid tasks, they have a habit of building up, and eventually, they WILL catch up with you. 

Chronic procrastinators will know all too well the feeling of exhaustion, burnout, and absolute dread when you have to cram days, weeks, or even months’ worth of work into an unrealistically short time frame.

Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage. It’s “self-harm”, as Dr Piers Steel said, a professor of motivational psychology at the University of Calgary and the author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done.”

Research shows that when you procrastinate, your wellbeing suffers dramatically. As for your work, you’re not living up to your full potential if you’re leaving essential tasks and big projects for your burnt-out future self. 

You’re repeatedly stopping yourself from achieving your goals. As a result, you’re struggling. At best, surviving when you should be thriving

But you CAN stop procrastinating. 

Every successful person has experienced the devastating effects of procrastination. What sets them apart is that they learned to overcome it.

So how can you escape the vicious loop of falling behind and cramming before deadlines?

The first step is getting to the root cause of WHY you do it. Then you can learn how to stop procrastinating once and for all. 

The Soul-Destroying Effects of Procrastination: How It’s Affecting Your Wellbeing, Self-Worth, and Success

The number of people who have accepted procrastination behaviour as their “normal” is astonishing. 

In fact, 88% of people procrastinate for at least an hour at work every day. 

And with every hour spent putting tasks off, people are falling behind, increasing their stress levels, and failing to unleash their potential. 

From a wellbeing perspective, delaying projects until the very last minute leads to unhealthy stress levels and can prevent you from getting enough sleep.

It can also affect your thought patterns and mental health. Constantly playing catch-up can leave you feeling powerless and overwhelmed. Feelings of anger, shame and guilt can also build up. 

You feel angry with yourself for not having enough self-control to get tasks done ahead of time. You feel guilty for falling behind and think you have to find a solution alone. 

When those emotions come together, your procrastination behaviour suddenly has devastating effects on your self-worth and confidence. 

You lose sight of your goals, and you forget that you’re meant for more

Meanwhile, your body is suffering. The stress, lack of sleep, and poor mental wellbeing affect your immune system and cause you to feel run down. You can’t think as clearly and you’re getting sick more often. Tasks take even longer to complete, you make poor decisions, and miss out on opportunities at work. Maybe you even ruin your career. 

Procrastination behaviour can be soul-destroying

But when you overcome the bad habit and master time management techniques, you can awaken your full potential and live the life you deserve. The life you’ve always dreamed of.

Overcoming procrastination can give you the clarity and confidence to free yourself from limiting beliefs and achieve your dreams. 

Why Do You Procrastinate? The Real Reasons and Psychology Behind It

Ever left an important task to the last minute and with a deadline looming, asked yourself, “why didn’t I do it earlier?”

Usually, it’s not because you lack time management skills. Procrastination is more often an emotion regulation problem — especially chronic procrastination.

It’s not just that you’d rather leave that important task to another day. There are deeper emotions at play than that.

Some of the most common reasons why you’re putting things off and can’t seem to break the cycle of procrastination include:

  • Perfectionism and fear of failure — You’re so hung up on getting your work right that you don’t know how to start, let alone finish tasks.

    You fear failure or criticism, so you put it off, giving yourself short-term relief from the looming stress. But in the long term, you make things so much worse. You complete tasks in a frenzy that saps your energy and compromises your work quality.
  • Endless distractions —  If your to-do list is never-ending, it’s easy to put off the most complex tasks and get distracted by more manageable, often unimportant tasks. Social media, personal problems, and busy work environments can distract you from the task at hand.
  • You rely on a sense of urgency for productivity — That adrenaline rush you experience when you leave things until the last minute is addictive. But it’s spurring on your self-sabotage.

    You tell yourself you’ll kick into action when deadlines approach and so you start to rely on that sense of urgency.
  • A lack of energy — You’re already exhausted and burnt out from procrastinating and rushing on other projects, so you’re constantly experiencing low energy levels and decision fatigue.
  • It’s a never-ending cycle — Procrastination is a cycle of intense stress followed by relief, and that relief can be euphoric.

    Every time you complete tasks after procrastinating, that blissful feeling of relief tells your brain that it’s OK to complete the cycle again. And so procrastination becomes a repeated cycle — a bad habit that becomes increasingly hard to break.
  • A disconnect from your future self — This is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. You’re so caught up in the now that you don’t have your future self’s best interests in mind.

    You can’t face tasks now, so you put them off without thinking about how that decision will affect your plans, time management, or project success. 

Your procrastination problem might be a result of one of these factors, or all of them. 

Getting to the bottom of why you’re a chronic procrastinator is key to learning to overcome procrastination. Once you know why you’re putting things off, you can solve the root cause.

How to Stop Procrastinating (for Good)

You need to find a way of not just avoiding procrastination but overcoming it completely. 

When you break the habit of putting things off once and for all, you can awaken your potential and achieve exponential growth.

So here’s how to stop procrastinating and never look back. 

a New Identity for Yourself and Connect With It

If your procrastination problem has become a part of who you are — or at least who you think you are, you need to recreate and strengthen your image of yourself. 

When you recreate your sense of self, you also reconnect with your desires, potential and drive. 

You’re less likely to put things off. Instead, you’ll believe in yourself and your ability to complete even the most difficult tasks. Plus, you’ll be aligned with your goals and driven to get tasks done to the highest quality.

You’ll stop settling for mediocrity and start striving for serious growth.

Work out Why You’re Procrastinating

The steps you take to overcome procrastination will depend on your “why”.

Until you understand why you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of procrastination and last-minute panic, you can’t make any fundamental changes. 

Sure, you can make an effort to stop procrastinating without doing the deep work. It might work for a day or two. But you’ll soon fall back into old habits because the underlying problem will still be there. 

If you want to prevent future procrastination, you need to figure out what’s causing you to avoid tasks. 

But awareness is not enough to get results. It’s just one ingredient for learning to stop procrastination. 

Once you become aware of your procrastination problem and what’s causing it, you can start breaking habits. 

You can start processing your emotions and your Original Core Trauma™. This is what I teach in my book — how to unravel your trauma and process your emotions. 

Forgive Yourself for Procrastinating and Build Self Efficacy

More than being aware of your procrastination problem, you need to forgive yourself for it. 

So many people procrastinate, yet it’s something that can cause vast amounts of guilt and anger. Those negative emotions can knock your self-esteem and stop you from realising what you’re capable of. 

When you stop believing in yourself, you stop living your potential. And if you don’t realise that you’re meant for more than the endless, torturous cycle of procrastination, you won’t ever escape it. 

So as well as accepting your procrastination problem and getting to the bottom of what causes it, FORGIVE yourself for it. 

Your bad habits are not you, and they shouldn’t stop you from believing in yourself. 

When you replace internalised negative feelings with the knowledge that you’re capable of greater things, you can leverage that knowledge to overcome procrastination. 

Breaking a bad habit is easier when you’re aligned with your goals.

Break Your to-Do List Down Into Smaller Sub Tasks

If a big project or important task triggers feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm, those feelings are likely to fuel your procrastination. 

But you can change your emotional reaction to projects. You need to rethink the way you approach challenging tasks.

Don’t think of projects as immense clouds hanging over your head. Instead, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

When you split daunting projects into smaller bite size sub-tasks, everything feels much more manageable. 

Baby steps are all it takes to make progress. And often, once you’ve taken that first step, no matter how small, it becomes much easier to keep the ball rolling.

Set Deadlines for Yourself

“I work better under pressure” — it’s a standard line from chronic procrastinators. But usually, it’s not that you work better; it’s simply that you work. With a deadline looming, the last-minute pressure means you can’t procrastinate any longer. 

But there’s a difference between urgency as a need and urgency as a choice

So rather than working to final deadlines, consider setting deadlines for all of your sub-tasks.

Create your own sense of urgency with specific deadlines for each part of your projects. This way, you can align your need or choice for urgency with your greater intentions — your greater purpose. 

Ensure there’s a reason behind each deadline to ensure each date feels almost as important as the final one. This will make it easier to self regulate your progress without putting things off.

Spend Time Removing Distractions From Your Workspace

Distractions are one of the biggest causes of procrastination for most people.

It’s so easy to scroll through social media, listen to music or put the TV on in the background. But every distraction makes it more likely that you’ll put off your work. 

Be honest with yourself. Are you more productive when there are distractions all around you? Or do you work best in a focused environment? 

The chances are, you’re more productive when there’s nothing to distract you from the tasks you’re working on. So take steps to eliminate distractions in your workspace.

Turn your phone off or at least leave it on silent. Log out of social media on your work computer. And avoid sitting near tempting televisions or radios.

Find Time Management Techniques That Work for You

Learning how to stop procrastinating might be a case of emotional regulation more than anything, but that’s not to say that time management techniques can’t be helpful.

If there are ways to manage your time that make your projects feel more approachable or your time feel more productive, you’re less likely to avoid starting complex tasks. 

Take the “two-minute rule,” for example. There are two aspects to this. 

Firstly, most tasks aren’t as difficult to complete as you think they are. You can complete many of them in two minutes or less. If that’s the case, do those tasks immediately. The moment you think of them.

Secondly, every new habit should take less than two minutes to start. So get those two minutes done. After you’ve made a start, projects don’t seem so difficult or daunting anymore. This makes it just as helpful for completing a big, complex task.

Want to learn how to stop procrastinating and become your most successful self?

My best-selling book “Meant for More” will help you see what’s stopping you from living your full potential. 

You’ll learn why trying harder and doing more will never work. You’ll uncover the reasons why you feel so stuck. Most importantly, you’ll find out how to become the person you were born to be.

If you’re ready to find out how to realise your full potential, give it a read.

About

Mia Hewett

My mission is to help entrepreneurs awaken to the truth of who they are, so they can make six to seven figures in their businesses, live their purpose and make the difference and impact they are Meant to make.

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