We all procrastinate, whether we admit it or not. However, procrastination becomes a problem when it interferes with our goals, career aspirations, or grades. Getting a handle on your procrastination habits may take some time, but there are a few ways you can overcome procrastination in 2023.
Find out more in our guide to 7 ways to overcome procrastination below.
Why We Procrastinate
Procrastination is the habit of delaying, finding an excuse to postpone, or avoiding work that needs to be done. You can procrastinate in many ways, including by doing less important things or by distracting yourself with social media, TV, and more.
Even though we don’t want it to be, procrastination is pretty common in humans of all ages. It usually occurs when the task at hand is overwhelming in its complexity or scale, exhausting, or induces negative emotions. Essentially, if you don’t want to or don’t know how to do something, you’re likely to procrastinate it.
Procrastination can often be used by people who want to avoid the negative emotions of a task. In this way, they will prioritize their immediate feelings over their long-term goals. This leads to a cycle of shame and guilt for having avoided a task and the subsequent rush to get things done.
How Long Does it Take to Overcome Procrastination Habits?
Habits themselves are thought to take about 30 to 60 days to break. Consistency is the key to breaking them too, so you need to put a method in place to begin breaking the habit of procrastination.
Overcoming procrastination is difficult, but there are some tricks you can use to overcome it. The 2-Minute Rule, for example, can help you to break out of procrastination in just two minutes.
The 2-Minute Rule is when you scale the habit down to just 2 minutes. For example, if you’re procrastinating on homework, you would simply open your notes and begin reading them for just two minutes.
The theory behind this rule is that you will become hyped by the short amount of time you’ve already spent doing the task and continue to do it now that you’ve started.
The rule isn’t foolproof and you could still procrastinate further down the line, but by saying to yourself that all you need to do is start the task, you’re giving yourself a manageable chunk to get going.
One of the best pieces of advice almost any expert gives when it comes to procrastination habits is to break the task down into manageable chunks so that it’s no longer as overwhelming. This rule does that, which is why it has worked for so many people.
If you’re a chronic procrastinator, you could use this rule to begin breaking the habit, and in time, you will no longer feel the need to delay.
7 Ways to Overcome and Beat the Procrastination
There are many tried-and-tested ways to overcome procrastination. Experts everywhere have come up with new and interesting ways, but we’ve whittled the list down to just 7 ways. The 7 tips listed below are our top ways that you can beat procrastination. Take a look below to find out more about them.
1. Get Clarity on the Goals
A common reason that people procrastinate is that they don’t have a clear idea of what is expected of them. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to do, it can feel very overwhelming to have to start a project. This leads to worry and procrastination.
Avoiding or overcoming this kind of procrastination is pretty simple. Get some clarity on the project. Whether it’s schoolwork or a work task, there is no use sitting and worrying about goals when you can simply ask.
Your boss or teacher would likely much rather you ask a few questions about the task than miss the deadline altogether. So if it’s a lack of clarity that is causing the problem, then make sure asking for clearer instructions is at the top of your to-do list.
2. Clarify Your Priorities
This can be split into two tips for overcoming the procrastination habit.
To begin with, you need to clarify the priorities of a task. If you’re working on a project with multiple different parts, deadlines may suddenly change and you will need to know which parts of the project are the most important.
Asking your boss, teacher, colleagues, or team members which is the most important part of the project, is the first step to avoiding procrastination in this instance. Make sure you’re clear on what the priority is so you can focus on it. It will help you to avoid confusion and ensure you know where to start to meet the task deadline.
The other way this tip works is to help you clarify your own priorities. Often, when people procrastinate, they are prioritizing their current and immediate feelings over their long-term goals. This means they’d rather feel good right now and avoid a task that will make them feel bad.
While the brain itself does prefer immediate rewards, you can overcome this by getting your priorities clear in your head. If you’ve got long-term goals and the task at hand is going to help you to reach said goals, then they need to be the priority.
You can even manipulate the way your brain views rewards by pairing the task you keep procrastinating with something you love. For example, you can listen to an audiobook you love while doing household chores.
3. Avoid Perfectionism
If you’re a perfectionist, then procrastination is likely to come very easily to you. This is because you’re always aiming for perfection and you get yourself wound up until you’re too scared to start a project for fear that the end result won’t be perfect.
There are a few ways that you can overcome this problem:
- Focus on the impact of a task: This means that instead of thinking about how others may judge the end goal, think about how it will affect its audience. For example, if you’re creating a blog post on procrastination, instead of thinking about minute details, think about how it’s going to help those who read it.
- Define the end: This is exactly as it sounds, but for perfectionists, it’s a crucial step. Essentially, you need to define when a project is complete. This technique comes from the Scrum Agile framework and is incredibly popular. It will stop perfectionists from working on a project forever and will give them a very specific end goal to aim for.
4. Break It Down
We’ve already mentioned breaking tasks down previously, and for good reason. It’s an incredibly useful tool for breaking the habit of procrastination.
If you struggle with feeling overwhelmed by a task, then breaking it down into more manageable tasks can help. Like the 2-Minute Rule, there are many strategies for breaking your task down into smaller tasks that ensure you can focus on the deadline.
This trend is sometimes referred to as ‘micro-productivity,’ and the overarching theme is that you start small, and every small step you do will get you one step closer to the completed task. It is a way for your brain to not feel overwhelmed by the deadline.
5. Set Deadlines
Setting deadlines falls within micro-productivity, too. If you set smaller deadlines within the bigger task, it can give you a goal to work toward. For example, you could set yourself a deadline for the planning stage so you know when to move on from planning to actually doing. This will stop procrastination in its tracks and ensure that you don’t spend too long in any one stage of the project.
This habit is particularly useful when you are working in a team. If everyone in the group knows when each stage should be completed by, you will spend less time chasing other team members and worrying about when they will get their individual tasks done.
You can even implement review sessions to ensure you’re all working toward the same vision and that you’re all right on track.
There is a caveat to this method of procrastination reduction, though. While setting deadlines can be incredibly useful if you need focus, you should avoid any type of time pressure. In some cases, when time pressure is added, people will value a completed task over a good quality end result.
To overcome this, ensure that any deadlines that are set are realistic within the time frame. You can use the SMART goals acronym to ensure that all team members can reach the goals and that they are specific enough to avoid any further procrastination.
6. Use Management Strategies
The first and easiest management strategy that you can use to avoid procrastination is a simple to-do list. A to-do list sets out your vision, has clear steps, and gives you a tiny reward each time you tick off a task. However, some people may find that a to-do list doesn’t go far enough to help you avoid procrastination.
If you struggle with reaching goals within a specific time, then time blocking is an incredibly useful strategy. The idea is that you account for every part of your day and block it off with specific tasks. It breaks the project down into manageable chunks, ensures you’ve got a plan to avoid laziness, and gives you an end goal.
Time blocking is particularly useful if you tend to procrastinate during a workday. You can schedule a time to do menial tasks like checking an email or grabbing a coffee so that you don’t procrastinate on more important tasks by doing these things instead.
Another fantastic strategy for people who struggle with just getting on with a task is the Pomodoro technique. This breaks your day into 25-minute work sessions with a 5-minute break in between each.
There are multiple resources online that make this method easy to follow, including YouTube videos that play music for 25 minutes, signaling the start and end of each break. For every 4 Pomodoros you complete, you get a longer 10-minute break too.
Working in short spurts keeps you motivated and on track, helping you to be productive even if you don’t want to. It helps you to challenge yourself.
Lastly, you can overcome procrastination by tackling the hardest task at your peak time. If you’re a morning person and you do your best work while the sun rises, do the hardest task at this point. If you’re someone who works better in the late afternoon, then schedule a time to do a complex task then.
By prioritizing the hardest tasks during your best working hours, you’re likely to be more motivated and more productive during these times. It will mean you actually get the work done and don’t procrastinate while you don’t feel great.
7. Try An Anti-Procrastination App
The last of our 7 ways to overcome procrastination is by downloading an anti-procrastination app. Our app, Virtue Map, is an effective anti-procrastination tool that you can add to your routine to achieve your goals.
The app combines neuroscience with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you unleash your potential and be the best version of yourself. We offer coaching and community support so you can immerse yourself in our accountability groups. These groups ensure you stay focused and motivated to complete tasks and meet deadlines with ease.
The app begins with self-discovery, showing you how procrastination and low self-esteem may have been holding you back from reaching all of your goals. We use self-reflection to help you uncover triggers and work out what exactly causes you to procrastinate.
From here, the app is designed to reprogram your mind. This means that we will help you to form life-changing habits, develop mental resilience, and consistently show up for yourself.
Features of Virtue Map include:
- Step-by-step daily tasks: These tasks come via email every day to help you overcome procrastination. They are manageable and engaging, but it is important that you stay consistent and follow them each day.
- Personalized tools: Everyone is different and so the app takes your specific needs and turns them into personalized tools for a program that suits you. These tools are designed to help you manage your daily to-do lists better.
- Guidance from coaches: One of the best parts of the app is that it is all informed by experts. The app offers coaching support to help you optimize your physical and mental well-being.
If you are finding that procrastination is taking over your life, then following our 7 ways to overcome procrastination can help. The tips we have laid out in this article are all designed to make your to-do lists more manageable and to help you overcome crippling procrastination.
Building better habits can take at least 30 days, but by implementing some of these strategies now, you’re likely to overcome procrastination quickly and begin achieving your goals in no time.
For more support, remember to check out the Virtue Maps app now and get your life and focus back on track.