Overcoming Procrastination

In overcoming procrastination it sounds like you have a fight against yourself on your hands.

Procrastinating can often be seen as being lazy and of course we can then begin to think of ourselves as lazy ... Well not so.

Procrastination is just the subconscious "art" of putting off until tomorrow what can be done today.

Sometimes that “tomorrow” can take a long time to come but if you can begin to look at this subconscious “art” as a habit that has become almost second nature it is very possible to resolve to form a new habit to replace the old one.

So rather than looking at overcoming procrastination as a fight against some unwelcome “fault” in your personality, reducing it to just forming a new habit will reframe the problem and you will be begin to see a way forward.

All too often we tend to put off the most important but difficult things that need doing until a crisis point has been reached. Then we can start to take action, but usually in a crisis mode.

Great stress can then be created and indeed the action taken may not have the desired outcome. This crisis action is in fact not action but reaction.


The causes of procrastination can be identified when we begin to see that we can easily put off doing the most important thing first.
We would rather start into a less required task than deal with the more important one. We can even identify a less difficult task as urgent in order to put off doing the more important but difficult one first.
Don’t feel guilty about this, like most people we all tend toward this way at times in our lives - but just keep thinking "procrastination is just a habit".
Realizing this is true is the beginning of the cure.

Accept yourself and have a good look on at how you manage your daily routine.

Do you have one? 

I did find it very difficult to have a routine. Sometimes I believed I would rather sit on a bed of nails than do the necessary tasks;especially if I perceive them as difficult.

So I have created a method for myself.

Sideways and Cascading - my way to form a new habit.

I call it going in “Sideways” others would call it breaking the task down into smaller pieces.
But I don’t like to use the word “task” as it tends to sound labor intensive, heavy work, even problematic.
So what happens to create procrastination? - It is creating a huge task of what is required to get something done.

It can then become a cascading pathway to not getting things done.

"Cascading" is something like this:

I have my attic to clear out at home and before I start in comes a number of visuals and thoughts about what needs to be done before I even get started-

  1. Where is the rod to open the attic door?
  2. Where did I put it last?
  3. In opening the attic door I had better be careful - something might fall on me! 
  4. In any case I will also have to get a chair to reach the door.
  5. The attic ladder is not very easy to pull down!
  6. I had better be careful not to put my foot through the ceiling floor!
  7. It will be very difficult to take items down.
  8. I will start tomorrow - I have other things to do anyway.

But I really need that book in the attic for my thesis!

The need for this book goes on and on in the head even to the point of getting angry.

Do you see what is happening?

I have created a large task for an outcome or goal and the visuals like the example here go through the mind in a flash; just like the speed of a change of scenes on TV.

I call this "the cascader".

It can become overwhelming and create negativity.
It is putting off the job to be done - the habit of procrastination!

By not recognizing this in your life you may find yourself in a right mess, in more ways than just an attic not being cleared out!

You may find procrastination could be affecting many areas in your life.
Do prioritize your goals and do not be afraid to realize what really needs to be done.

You may also encounter fear when you realize what you need to do for a desired outcome.
We can even be afraid of the outcome itself and this may be at the heart of the meaning of procrastination in your own life.

“Procrastination does not stop a project from coming to fruition, what stops us is giving up on an original idea because we have not got to the heart of the reason we are delaying, nor let the true form of our reluctance instruct us in the way ahead”.
David Whyte

So going back to “the cascader” you see how you can make a large task out of anything if you want to. But it is in knowing this that you can eliminate the “big task routine.”

Now I Do It Like This "Sideways"

Take the attic example above now I do it like this -

  1. I find the rod to open the attic and leave it from where I will need to use it. Then I will go and do something else - perhaps not so urgent.
  2. As I pass by the rod again, or decide to take the next action, I will then get the chair and leave it beside the rod - I will then go again and do something else.
  3. I will continue like this baby step by baby step to open the attic.
  4. Very soon I find I am in the attic and I am doing what I set out to do.

Baby step,by baby step, all the way day by day.

This is like the concept of Kaizen; a term the used in industry. It is about adding on all the time piece by piece to create betterment. You can use this method for any goal, especially a priority one.

Using Kaisen or "sideways" (my term) you are building on all the time.

If you fall back into the old way of procrastination don’t feel guilty just go "sideways" again and again and again.By doing this you will create a new habit and you will know how you can overcome procrastination.

Even if what needs doing is somewhat uncomfortable you may find by the end of it that you actually enjoyed it.

When you achieve a single goal from your overall goal setting, reward yourself. It could be a night at the movies, it could be going for a coffee with a friend; just mark the achievement.

You can have deadlines but try not to get hung up if the deadline is not made. Detach from the "I didn't make the deadline" and just keep going.

Try not to have a “to do” list on its own but rather have:

  1. Intentions
  2. Goals
  3. Actions(=a to do list for getting things done)
  4. Use visualization

A “to do” list on its own can be very task and time orientated, whereas with intentions you can grow, baby step by baby step, towards reaching your goals. You will have passed through procrastination and fear.

You will then find you are becoming more organized and creating the “big task routine” will also become less and less significant.

Procrastination will start to disappear.

Overcoming Procrastination - > The Importance Of Goal Setting

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