How can I stop procrastinating?- Ways to overcome the frustration
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Dr. Porrselvi A.P., Founder and Cognitive Neuropsychologist, Unified Brain Health Care
Procrastination is the unnecessary delaying or postponing something that you have to do despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so and this is a choice that you make (even though it might seem like it is involuntarily happening). It feels like an iron prison that you know you have to get out of but you are stuck in though you have the keys to the lock in your hand.
Just in case you were wondering, this happens even to the best of us- who seemingly have it all put together. Many mental health disorders can affect productivity by making people procrastinate and making it difficult to get started. Though our rational voice says- if you get this started, the work gets done and you will be at peace, what we end up doing is very different- despite the instinct for survival- what we end up doing is very counterproductive to our survival.
Something noticed in practice is that often people who procrastinate are perfectionists- for whom the pressure they put on themselves is overwhelming and so they instead live from deadline to deadline, thereby reducing time spent planning and agonising. Some procrastinators push themselves so hard, multi-task and take a lot on their plate- so they get mentally tired though they think they are just being lazy (and end up beating themselves more about it). Procrastination sometimes results from other mental health/brain health concerns like a burn out, anxiety, depression, ADHD, executive dysfunction etc. and without addressing the cause, there is no way out of this, no matter how hard you push yourself. For some procrastinators- starting is not the problem but finishing is.
Begin with the first step. (If you are putting off reading a book- start with reading a page)
Don't put off to tomorrow. (Begin the first step today- the other steps can maybe put off to tomorrow)
Don't wait for motivation. (Motivation does not sprout unless nurtured- for nurturing you have to begin)
Compartmentalise things you need to do and prioritise (and then break each of the things you want to do to steps)- eg. house related things to do, work related things to do, child related things to do, hobby things to do.
Turn up each day (even if it means just opening that book and reading the back). Each day make sure you do something from each of your compartments (house, work, child, hobby)
Rely on paper and pen rather than apps (a personal choice- but there is some pleasure to checking something off the list/striking it out when compared to using the backspace/delete key)
Reward yourself only upon completion but be mindful of the small steps of progress you make- in short celebrate and cheer yourself all along.
Plan your every day in advance- either the previous night or first thing you do in the morning. (something from each compartment should be there in the list of things to do for the day)
If you find yourself procrastinating- try moving on to something on your list instead of the task you are avoiding, get back to the task you avoided later in the day because you know you can't leave anything behind on your daily checklist (and that gives a deadline and deadlines motivate procrastinators)
If you can't get started or find yourself distracted-Move around- do some push ups, walk 50 steps- don't scroll! (social media is an enemy, turn off notifications)
Don't forget to take breaks (but don't forget that list). Don't fill up your schedule. You are allowed cheat days. But after the cheat day, get back to that list.
Get yourself a buddy- someone who will keep a check on your checklists. This has to be someone who understands what you are trying to accomplish.
If you are a chronic procrastinator, things won't change unless you make the effort for them. Using the ways above, try to work through your to-do's. If you need support or think the procrastination maybe due to a mental health/brain health issue, reach out for professional help.
Unified Brain Health Care is one of a kind integrated Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Chennai for adults and children offering in person and online therapy in Cognitive Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Clinical Nutrition, Career Counselling, Fitness Coaching and Educational Intervention. We also offer Family and Marriage Counselling, help for PCOS, care during pregnancy, post-pregnancy care for new moms, infant and early childhood stimulation, infant and young child nutrition, care for caregivers and promote holistic brain health.