How to Overcome Procrastination

Learning how to overcome procrastination is not easy. Often it is much easier to simply procrastinate.

I tend to procrastinate when I’m trying to do things I do not want to do or trying to do them in a way that is not providing value to others.

When you really sit down and think about it, overcoming procrastination is almost always about shifting your perspective and getting clear on what you really want.

I used to have no trouble procrastinating in school work because I really didn’t see what the point was.

I had no desire to do those things and would never repeat them. The only reason I did them was because “I had to”. It was the socially acceptable thing to do.

For me, procrastination pretty much always comes down to not doing what you really want to do. Have you ever procrastinated about something you are truly passionate about?

Passion

As I said above, if you’re doing stuff you don’t love, you have no one but yourself to blame if you run into procrastination. Listen to your feelings, discover your passion and you will be much more motivated.

As an example from my life, when I started playing poker professionally I had no trouble putting the hours in, but as the years went by and my interest declined, I started procrastinating, a lot. I didn’t want to play poker so I did my best to avoid it completely.

For a few years I forced myself to play and I really grew sick of the game. I haven’t played in almost a year and it feels great. The same thing happened when I jumped over to making a living through niche websites. In the beginning it was fun, but ultimately it was unsustainable if I wasn’t in line with what my passion was.

Value

Delivering value goes hand in hand with your passion. If you’re providing value you will be much more motivated. At least that is the case for me. When I went from a poker player to building health websites to starting a blog, my motivation grew each time.

Some people can get motivated and stay motivated by money alone, but ultimately it eats up their soul. Because there comes a point where you realize that more money doesn’t equal more happiness, which is when you will start to resist it.

Are you truly providing value for others or are you just doing it to make money? Procrastination is a sign. Listen to it. What is it trying to tell you? Do you wish you were doing something else? Could you provide more value and be less selfish?

Simplify

Sometimes you’re already doing what you love and still running into roadblocks and bouts of procrastination. When this happens it is usually because I am overwhelming myself and trying to juggle too many balls at once.

I am awesome at this, so throughout the years I’ve learned a few tricks to deal with it. The best thing is to focus on one core project, or at the most two. Keep it as simple as possible. And if you run into trouble, simplify the whole process.

Write down any steps you can take action on today. The smaller the pieces, the easier it will be to take action. Overwhelm happens to me when I try to think of all the things I want to do at once. It ultimately is just a figment of my imagination. Once you break it all down, you’ll see that procrastination tends to disappear.

Allow

When you start following your passion and putting your name and face out there, you may experience fear. I am constantly second-guessing myself as I write this blog. Is my writing good enough? Will people like me? What if no one reads what I have to say?

These are fears that we all have and they can create a massive amount of procrastination, because we’ve been taught to never fail and never be wrong. The best solution for me has been to shed awareness on what is really stopping me and just allowing the thoughts to be there.

It is easier said than done, but you do not have to identify with every thought you have. Following your passion can be scary, but you have to learn how to be imperfect.

Goals

To be honest, I do not keep meticulous goals. But I do keep a few large goals that keep me on track. You do not have to write down every detail. However, many find that it helps. To each his own, you have to find your own process and what works for you.

Goals provide clarity and clarity destroys procrastination. Avoid falling into the traps of spreading yourself thin. Realize the power of no. Saying no can be scary at first, because you don’t want to let people down.

I noticed this in my own life, but as I said no more and more I saw that those who were not really looking to be my friends dropped out of my life, and the true ones stayed. See it as a filter that at the same time keeps you focused and gives you more time time to spend on your projects.

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Comments

  1. Procrastination is something i have been fighting in my life a lot lately. For me the first step was admitting that i procrastinated once i did that and decided to stop putting things off it became quite easy to deal with. My main tool for dealing with this problem is watching for my internal reactions to doing something. When i catch myself starting to put something off I say to myself that is not how we do things any more and get up and get to work on it.

    • And you’re most likely not alone Quinn. Sounds like you’re using almost the same process that I use when I really have to get things done. Just pure and simple kick your own ass ;)

  2. What a great post! And a great site too! I’m so glad you found Positively Present so I could find your site. :)

    • Thanks a lot! It’s awesome to hear such uplifting words as I am just getting acquainted with my own writing and finding my voice.

  3. Believe me, procrastination is my worst enemy ever. And yeah, normally I will end up juggle up all the works and tasks because of procrastination at the early moments. I’m currently fighting this procrastination by keep forcing myself to do what I should do I what I shouldn’t. “You have to do this and after that, do this and this”

    p/s: At this moment, I realize that a lot of people talk about procrastination. Yes, because it kills our precious time!

    • True words my friend. It does eat up a lot of time. By staying focused and clear on what you want to accomplish, it all becomes so much easier.

  4. I always procrastinate on my school work like you.But I never procratinate on the things I’m interested about.For example,one day I had a idea that may be I can make money by blogging,and the next day I started my blog.

  5. Anytime I find myself procrastinating, I find it quite helpful to say “It’s a good day to Get it Done.”

    • That’s an awesome tip. Changing your mindset or perspective can do a lot. It’s easy to fall into negative thinking, such as “I should really do this” … “It has to be done” … no one wants to do stuff thinking like that ;)

  6. Hey nice advice. I am procrastinating my preparation for my Semester exams after reading this i got some motivation to do what i have to do. I had wasted too much time just sleeping, now it’s time to wake up and do something about examination.

    Thanks for such a nice advice on procrastination.

    Azad Shaikh

    • Exams are always a pain, at least for me they were. I’m glad you took something out of this post. Thank you so much for commenting Azad!

  7. Henri, great post! This was very helpful and I do struggle with procrastination! :)
    ~Jenn

  8. Hi,

    You got oodles of insightful comments on this post! I’m coming here from problogger. Partly, I wanted to comment because you’re a fellow country-man. I’m a Swedish expat too … in Canada. I have no ambitions about making money online, I think I’m too old and you must come up with a good idea first.

    Anyways, we all procrastinate all the time because we just cannot be passionate about picking up the garbage, for example. We just have to grin ‘n bear :) Good luck in Malaga! I have an online buddy who lives there, he’s Norwegian.

    • I’m surprised at the amount of awesome comments I am getting. The cool thing about having your own blog is others find you, just like you have. But you’re never too old. I’m sure you have tons of experience and passion to share with the world :). Thanks for reading and commenting. You rock!

  9. Nice post Henri!

    I run into procrastination often and you have great tips about what to do in those situations. The problem is usually when you are “there” it is hard to remember these things and you are easily stuck there. In those moments it is good to have somebody to remind you or put some own reminders about these tips.

    I found out that putting up some post-it-notes on places I go with reminders help me out a little bit. Like when I am stressed out in a project I put a post-it-note on my screen which shows “FOCUS” and another one “One thing at the time”. Also to help myself to off-load work I put a note with the text “Say NO!!!”.

    • Yeah it can be tough when you’re there. What I do is focus on what I am trying to accomplish and why I am doing the task. This is especially effective when I’m working. For doing the dishes and taking out the garbage-type stuff I just realize that I have to do it sooner or later, and the sooner I do it, the better I’ll feel. Thanks for reading, Marko!

  10. I’ve struggled with procrastination recently too. Actually, I’ve just put a post up on my blog about my experience with it. The trouble I was having was that, while I was avoiding doing what I REALLY wanted to be doing (producing quality content), I couldn’t see this procrastination because I was still ‘busy’ getting things done. My productivity in one area was masking my procrastination in another!

    I have been thinking more about this recently and I actually think that there was some degree of sub-conscious choice in my procrastination. I think it centres on a fear of receiving negative feedback when putting new content out. However, what I’ve realised now is that if someone takes the time to provide feedback (even of the negative sort) then I must have made some sort of connection, and I can take that and learn from it. Bingo, my procrastination driven by fear, dissolves!

    Keep up the excellent posts Henri!

    • Thanks a lot, Tim!

      Sounds like you had some amazing realizations. I definitely agreed that negative feedback isn’t necessarily something bad. Sometimes it’s the bad stuff that teach you the most. I think it’s pretty cool how you can be productively procrastinating :D.

  11. P E OBrien says:

    Henri,
    I have found when I procrastinate it is a fear surfacing, when I realized that, I head right on in and deal with it. When procrastination wants to sit down for dinner, I show it the door and mention on the way out: our visit will be shorter next time. Hence, procrastination hasn’t been coming round to much these days.

  12. Mary Canfield says:

    This is the biggest struggle I am having in my life right now! It has been an ongoing trial. I am fighting it daily. The first thing I am having to do is get my life in order. I have to get rid of clutter and organize the rest. I have an accountability thread at Unclutterer forums under Claycat. I have made progress, and I am proud of myself.

    After the house is fairly organized, I have three major goals.

    1. Make money on the internet. I have many items to sell for my MIL who is in assisted living and needs the additional money. I also have a few to sell myself. Then I will be selling my art on Etsy. I also have plans for a blog. (I’m 60 Rebekah! If I can do it, so can you!)

    2. Do my art – This is my passion that I have been putting off for years. I’m going to do it and start marketing it. I actually have a good drawing I did, in the 90s, that I will be making art prints of and selling.

    3. Be more fit – I walk now, but I need to do more. I’m slowly starting to work on exercising, flossing every day, and taking better care of my body. I have a lot of trouble sleeping. The other night I rubbed some cream on my hands, because they were so dry. (I’m not a person who uses a lot of beauty stuff.) I actually slept really well that night. I told my husband, it was almost like my body could relax better, because I was sending it a message of care. (Weird, huh!)

    Thank you so much for your blog, Henri! It has so much information that is relevant to my life!

    • Sounds like you’ve got a lot of good things going for you, Mary! I have no doubt that you will achieve what you want if you keep at it. I’m glad you like my writing. It’s always fun to hear positive feedback :)

  13. Sunshine Conkey says:

    I assume my passion my photography & computers. I spend the most free time with one of those. Everything else gets thrown to the side…all to 1 side of my dorm room. Someday I might clean my room (when my camera & computer die off). I can’t even use 1/2 of my small dorm room because of all the stuff in boxes in 1/2 my room.

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