Procrastination Cycles and How to Break Them 

Procrastination Cycles

Does the phrase “I’ll start tomorrow” sound familiar? If so, you may be one of many who have fallen into the vicious cycle of procrastination. Procrastination is delaying tasks and doing something less important instead, like organizing your sock drawer. 

Procrastination is a challenging habit to conquer, but by recognizing the cycles and the ways to break free from them, you can take the necessary steps to overcome them. We understand the impact that being stuck in the cycles has, and we’re here to help you become more productive.

Let’s take a look at procrastination cycles in further detail:

What are Procrastination Cycles?

Procrastination cycles are recurring patterns that a person may follow, causing them to fall into a vicious cycle and habit. Procrastination cycles can look different for everyone, and it’s essential to identify your specific cycle to take the necessary, productive steps to overcome the stages of the cycle and break the habit. 

According to research by Dr Joseph Farrari, 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators. This  signifies the amount of people dealing with a lack of motivation and productivity needed to complete tasks with effective time-management and motivation.  

The different stages of procrastination cycles can be all-consuming, and it can be challenging to break free from the grips of the temptation to avoid important tasks in front of us. The stages of the cycle are not always linear, and you may feel an influx of various emotions as you move through the pattern. 

Habits are challenging to break, but recognizing that you’re falling into a regular pattern is a positive step to overcoming the hurdles. 

Let’s take a look at the cycle of procrastination:

  1. Task avoidance

Task avoidance is the first stage of a procrastination cycle. It involves putting off or delaying an important task to spend time doing something less important, like scrolling on social media or cleaning your room. Less significant tasks take over the primary task in front of you, and the looming deadline can cause you to feel overwhelmed and lead you to avoid the job altogether.  

  1. Temporary relief 

By avoiding a task, you may feel a sense of temporary relief as the stress of the looming deadline is pushed to the back of your mind. Avoiding the task and spending time doing more enjoyable activities can create a sense of peace and relief in your mind. This relief is a prominent cause of a recurring cycle of procrastination, as you’ll experience immediate gratification. 

Taking the time to indulge in other activities that have no impact on your stress levels will create a positive headspace, which will cause you to procrastinate for as long as you can. 

  1. Regret and guilt 

As more time passes and a project or task remains incomplete, you may experience feelings of regret and guilt as they feel the strong presence of the looming deadline. You may regret not starting a task sooner and will avoid it in fear of the amount of work you must do. 

Procrastination habits will persist at this stage as you feel many negative emotions, like guilt, regret and stress. These negative feelings associated with completing the task will likely create a further need to procrastinate. 

  1. Last-minute rush

At this stage of the procrastination cycle, you’ll feel a sense of panic and urgency as the deadline creeps closer and closer. This stage involves a lot of stress and anxiety, often resulting in lower-quality work due to the rush. You will experience a feeling of panic and finally face the project in front of you. 

Due to the last-minute panic, the task or project will be completed quickly in a rush to meet the deadline. This stage is highly stressful, and emotions such as regret and guilt may rise again. You may produce low-quality work, but you’ll manage to race through towards the finish line. 

  1. Temporary accomplishment

The final stage of the procrastination cycle is a temporary accomplishment that involves the feeling of relief once a task is complete and a deadline is met. Even though stress levels have increased due to the last-minute rush, you’ll feel a sense of short-lived peace as you can remove the lingering work from your mind. 

The stages of procrastination can vary from person to person, and their duration may also differ. Awareness of this cycle and its impact on your daily life will help you take steps in the right direction and overcome this challenge. To unlock your true potential and transform your life, understanding the cycle is a step in the right direction. 

What Causes Procrastination Cycles?

Procrastination cycles are common in the fast-paced world surrounding us, and it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed. Often, when we’re in a negative mindset about a particular topic, overcoming the habits in place is a challenge. 

By understanding the causes of your procrastination style, you can work towards taking positive and productive steps to break from the vicious cycle you’re caught up in. The reasons for the cycles may differ from person to person, and it’s helpful to recognize why you struggle to find the motivation, productivity and self-confidence to complete essential tasks.

Let’s take a look at some common causes of procrastination cycles:

  1. Perfectionism. Often, people who strive for perfection set extremely high standards for themselves. A perfectionist may postpone or avoid a task in fear that they won’t live up to expectations as well as the fear of failure. 
  2. Overwhelm. If a person feels overwhelmed, they may think they cannot complete the tasks and that delaying it is easier to handle. If the workload is large and daunting, people may avoid facing it for as long as possible. 
  3. Poor time management. If a person has poor time management, they may struggle to prioritize their time and tasks. A person may not leave enough time to complete a task due to underestimating the time it’ll take, which can lead to a last-minute, stressful rush. 
  4. Emotional reasons. A person may delay a task due to anxiety, self-doubt, depression and many other emotions affecting their outlook on a project. If high-stress levels are linked to a particular project, a person may postpone it to experience instant gratification from less significant, more minor activities.
  5. Lack of motivation. If a person fails to find the motivation or engagement to do a task, they may find it challenging to make a start. A lack of motivation is often a common cause for procrastination and plays a large part in becoming trapped in the chronic cycle. 
  6. Too many distractions. If too many distractions surround a person, they may become tempted to spend their time participating in less important activities. For example, if someone has their phone on hand and spends hours scrolling on social media or calling their friends, they may procrastinate on a critical task. 

These causes can differ for various people, and you may relate to more than one on the list. If that’s the case, fear not! We have compiled our top ten tips for breaking your procrastination cycle and ways to incorporate them into your daily life to become more motivated and productive. 

How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

If you feel caught up in a negative and demotivating procrastination cycle, it’s time to make a change and release yourself from its overpowering grip. 

Here are our top ten tips for breaking the procrastination cycle and becoming more motivated, self-confident and proactive:

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Set specific deadlines
  3. Work around your productivity cycle 
  4. Break tasks into smaller steps
  5. Change the environment 
  6. Start with the most challenging part of the task
  7. Reward yourself for the work you have done
  8. Try using the gamification method
  9. Give yourself extra time for deadlines to procrastinate
  10. Practice self-care and patience

Let’s take a closer look at these tips:

  1. Set clear goals 

By setting clear and realistic goals for yourself, you can work towards the final project in smaller and more manageable ways. If you set unrealistic expectations and objectives, your motivation may slip as you worry about meeting and exceeding the targets. Instead, create goals you can reach, and you’ll feel more motivated with a higher sense of achievement. 

According to a study by the Dominican University, people who set goals are 43% more likely to achieve them. This study shows the impact setting clear, realistic goals can have on your productivity and outcomes. 

  1. Set specific deadlines 

For the tasks or projects to seem more manageable, set specific deadlines for yourself to help manage your time effectively. By setting deadlines earlier than the final project, you won’t experience the influx of stress, guilt and dread as you begin the entire task at the last minute. 

Create your deadline and work towards these manageable goals in smaller steps, and you won’t feel as overwhelmed as the actual deadline approaches. 

  1. Work around your productivity style

We all have different productivity styles, making concentrating easier at various points in the day. Practice self-awareness and work around your personal productivity style and cycle to complete a task’s more complicated, challenging parts when you feel more motivated. 

Experiment with different times of the day and find what works best for you. That way, you can implement and schedule a new routine in your daily life. 

  1. Break tasks into smaller steps

You can avoid feeling overwhelmed by breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Smaller jobs are less daunting, and you can tackle them more easily in your approach without feeling put off by a large amount of last-minute work. By completing smaller tasks, you’ll feel a sense of achievement and increased motivation to move on to the next. 

By completing tasks in smaller steps, you’ll be more likely to remain focussed on one task at a time. According to research, multitasking can decrease your productivity by 40%, increasing the temptation to procrastinate. Breaking taks up will help with this as you’ll be able to concentrate on one task at a time. 

  1. Change the environment 

Changing the environment you work in can have a beneficial impact on your productivity. By changing where you’re completing your project or tackling your task, you’ll feel refreshed and motivated to work towards your goals. Whether you work in a library, a coffee shop or an office, change your usual environment, and you’ll find yourself with a more precise and focused head. 

83% of workers believe that they don’t have to work in an office to be productive, suggesting the importance of trying new and different environments. By experimenting with your location and surroundings, you may find yourself being more productive in different environments. 

  1. Start with the most challenging part of the task

During the day, it’s only natural for our energy levels to decrease as time passes, so aim to work on the most challenging part of your task first. This way, you’ll be able to focus on the more challenging aspects of a job that require the most attention. Doing this will increase motivation and productivity, and you’ll feel a sense of achievement when you complete a section of your task. 

  1. Reward yourself for the work you have done

Celebrating your success and rewarding yourself for even small accomplishments is an effective way to remain focused and motivated. By celebrating small victories along the way, you’ll feel inspired and encouraged to continue achieving your goals and succeeding. 

Overcoming procrastination habits and cycles can be a long process, so be patient with yourself and reward yourself for your work. 

  1. Try using the gamification method 

Sometimes work and tasks are associated with negative connotations, and someone may avoid beginning it if they feel it’s boring. Using a gamification method can be a more enjoyable way to remain productive, and there are various anti-procrastination apps you can use to help keep you engaged and productive. 

According to a recent Zippia study, 72% of people say gamification motivates them to do tasks and work harder on the job, suggesting the positive impact it can have on your productivity.  Try several apps with multiple features and determine what works best for you. 

  1. Give yourself extra time for deadlines to procrastinate 

If a person knows they’re prone to procrastination, an effective way to manage your time is to spread your time out to give yourself extra time to complete your task and get your work done. Allowing spare time for procrastination will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed at the last minute, as you can manage your time and complete the task within the time you allow.

  1. Practice self-care and patience 

Overcoming a procrastination cycle is challenging as people become used to their habits and ways over time. By being patient with yourself, making time for self-care, and taking care of your well-being, like getting enough sleep and participating in activities you enjoy, you’ll feel in a better position to remain as focussed and motivated as possible. If you need to take some time to recover from burnout or exhaustion, you’ll feel more able to face future tasks ahead of you with a more positive mindset. 

Breaking the procrastination cycle is challenging, but by following our top 10 tips, you can take positive steps to overcome your struggles. Be patient with your progress, do what works best for you and reward yourself. Breaking free from the cycle will transform your life and make you more motivated, positive and productive. 

Time to Break the Cycle of Procrastination

Let’s face it, procrastination cycles’ impact on our lives can leave us feeling demotivated, stressed and overwhelmed. Breaking free from the procrastination cycle will transform your life, and the influx of positivity, motivation and productivity in your daily life will allow you to feel happier, less stressed and proud of the work you achieve. 

In 2016, a study on various age groups found that most procrastinators were aged between 14-29. This suggests it’s possible to outgrow and break free from your procrastination cycle. Researchers believe that with time, people’s time perception and priorities change, decreasing the time we spend procrastinating.

By recognizing the cycle you’re stuck in, understanding the causes, following our top tips to overcome your procrastination habit, and breaking from the cycle, you’ll find yourself more motivated and productive. Improving your time management and prioritizing your tasks will decrease your stress levels, overwhelm and last-minute rush. 

Books, podcasts and anti-procrastination apps like Virtue Map are designed to help you kickstart your transformation journey and help you achieve success. For example, anti-procrastination apps are equipped with features, valuable tools, personalized plans and expert advice to help transform your focus, productivity, self-confidence and success. Begin your journey, reclaim your potential and check out Virtue Map today. 

The vicious cycle of procrastination is challenging, and overcoming habits will take patience, self-awareness and self-discipline. Recognizing and understanding your cycle is an excellent place to start your transformation journey towards a more productive and motivated life. 

Utilize apps, books and our top tips towards breaking free from your habits, and you’ll benefit from the goals you’ll achieve, the sense of achievement and the productive mindset you’ll create. To transform your life and begin your journey to success, check out the positive Virtue Map reviews and break free from the procrastination cycle today. 


What are the key cycles of procrastination?

The key cycles of procrastination are the avoidance cycle, the distraction and temporary relief cycle, guilt and regret, the last-minute rush and the temporary relief once a task or project is complete. The cycles can vary in length and aren’t always linear, but understanding the stages can help you put measures in place to overcome them. 

What’s the best way to break a procrastination cycle? 

The best way to deal with a procrastination cycle is by understanding and recognizing that you need to change. From there, you can take positive steps like setting clear, realistic goals, utilizing books and anti-procrastination apps and trying methods to improve your time management. Different techniques work for different people, so try a few and see what works best for you. 

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