Why You Procrastinate And How to Stop It

How often do you procrastinate?

Or, let’s try a different question.

When was the last time you procrastinated?

Maybe you’re thinking about doing that now. Pin this article on one of your Pinterest boards so you can go back to it later. Which means almost never. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I used to call myself a master procrastinator. I would write a to-do list and get inspired while listing down the great things I was about to do. But when it comes to taking action and getting things done – poof!

And I was even proud to call myself a procrastinator!

I knew I needed to do something about it so last year, I took a productivity course for writers. The course focuses on each writer’s mental strength.

After going through the course, and months of experimentation, I realized the more you know why you’re procrastinating, the better you’ll be at avoiding it.

Here are the reasons I’ve found. Note that this is not a complete list. It might be different for you. But I’m pretty sure we both have something in common among the list so read on.

1. It’s not because you’re lazy
Nope. You’re not lazy. I know you’re a hardworking person, you’re here after all. And you’ve got big dreams and goals.

Procrastinating may disguise itself as laziness. But there is a bigger reason behind it. I’ll get to that later.

2. There is something you don’t know yet
If you’re writing a novel and you don’t know what’s going to happen on the next scene, you’ll stare at your screen trying to figure out what your characters are supposed to do.

This is where some writers let their character do their thing.

But what happens when your characters are having toddler tantrums and don’t cooperate? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

You’re still going to stare at that white screen.

So figure out your characters, or write an outline for that blog post. This will give you enough information so that you can get started writing.

3. You know too much
Contrary to a lack of knowledge, too much knowledge can also cause you to procrastinate.

Now that you know so much, you’re overwhelmed with too much information and now you don’t know where to even start. So you don’t start at all. While the ideas are looming in your head, you can make your body to do it.

4. You don’t have it on your schedule
Have you ever experienced a time when the gods have suddenly gifted you some free time? But then you stare at your computer not knowing what to do.

You keep scrolling through Facebook instead or Pinterest. There’s a small voice telling you, “You should make use of this time to be productive!”

And you do want to make use of this time. The only problem is, you don’t even have a to-do list that can give you a suggestion on what to do.

5. There is an essential pain you’re trying to avoid.
BINGO!

I find that this is almost always the case. It could be fear of being judged, fear of failure, fear of success…

There might be a limiting belief that stops you from taking action.

“Who am I to do this?”

“I’m not good enough.”

“They’ll find out I’m an imposter.”

So, how do you stop procrastination? Don’t worry. I’ve got you.

There is hope. And you can kiss procrastination goodbye.

1. Have a daily schedule

This way, you already know what you’re trying to accomplish. Or, a better way is to plan your next 90 days before you plan your daily schedule. This way you have a roadmap of where you are and where you’re trying to be.

2. Know what the essential pain that’s stopping you and work on it

It’s not easy to overcome limiting beliefs. But it’s not impossible. You have a lot of mental work to do. But it will all be worth it.

The first thing to do is, don’t listen to those voices!

Don’t let a limiting belief or fear stop you from working towards your dreams. Get a coach, a mentor, or join a support group. Read books about goals, success, and be inspired by successful people.

Thing is, the essential pain you’re trying to avoid might not go away. But at least you must learn how to handle it.

For me, the essential pain I have to deal with are:

I’m not good enough.

Nobody will read my book.

Everyone will hate my book.

I’ll have haters for writing a crappy book.

Little by little, I am learning to “talk back” to that voice in my head. The conversation goes like this:

“I’m not good enough.”

Maybe, but if I keep on writing, I will get better. Writing, after all, is a learned skill.

Nobody will read my book.

So what? I’m reading a book about a story I like. I like it. That’s all that matters.

Everyone will hate my book.

You never know that until you hit publish. And what if they’ll love it?

I’ll have haters for writing a crappy book.

Every successful author out there has a hater.

That’s how I handle it. Because that voice in your head? She’s looking out for you. She wants you to be safe and comfortable. And the way to your goals is rough. So, you must reassure yourself that you’re going to be okay. Because really, you’re fine. Trust me.

3. Use the 5-second rule

I learned this from Mel Robbins. Count from five to one and then when you’re down to one, don’t think and just take action. Five seconds is all you need as a jumpstart. Don’t overthink it.

Five, four, three, two, one… Do that thing you know you’re supposed to do. And yes, a to-do list from your daily planner is handy in here.

4. Have an accountability

Not all forms of accountability work for everyone. For example, some people swear by public accountability like announcing to the world of your plans to start a business or write a book. For some people, this doesn’t work.

Know which side you are. Do you work better off holding yourself accountable? Or do you work better if you have an accountability partner? Or, do you work best when you make your goals public?

You can’t know the answers to these questions if you don’t at least try them. Experiment with different forms of accountability and see what works for you.

5. Exert more effort

Push yourself because no one is going to do it for you. Other people can cheer for you, but you’re the one out there in the playing field. Even the best coach in the world can’t play the game for you.

The bigger your goal, the more effort is expected of you.

I was a master procrastinator. But now I can say I’m a recovering procrastinator.

Keep pushing through, keep moving forward. And please, for the love of everything that’s holy, stop calling yourself a procrastinator.

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