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Fighting Procrastination

clutterDo you find that even though things seem important–especially when they seem important–you tend to put them off all the more?  Here’s a tip sheet for how to fight the procrastination tendency.Often, people try to remind themselves how high the stakes are, thinking that will get them moving.  But it often has the reverse effect.  It can increase anxiety and self-criticism, both of which can be paralyzing.  Instead:

1) Lower the stakes.  Treat it like any other task on a to-do list, and remind yourself how good it’ll feel to simply be done with the list.

2) Recognize the procrastination itself is a time and energy suck.

You have to apply mental energy to justify and rationalize.  And it’s not like you’re actually forgetting about the things that need doing.  You’re just trying to suppress that awareness.

All of that is draining.  It takes away from the overall quality of your life.

3)  When you find yourself thinking you’ll do it tomorrow, remind yourself that you said that yesterday.

You have to stop buying what you’re selling.  If you refuse to fool yourself, you’ll find that you become immensely more productive.  You’ll also feel better about yourself.

Which leads into…

4)  Think about the toll procrastination takes on your self-esteem.

It’s hard to feel as good as you could when you’re aware–whether consciously or subconsciously–that you’re afraid to tackle certain things in your life.

5)  Consider what you’re really afraid of.

Sometimes people are afraid of failure; sometimes they’re afraid of success.  Or you could be afraid of something entirely different, but usually, fear is at the root cause of procrastination (unless it’s a simpler issue, like time management, prioritization, or organization.)   It could be that some part of you thinks something bigger and scarier awaits you when you finish this task, or that maybe you’ll perform it inadequately and let others down.

Being able to identify what’s underneath a behavior is critical to changing the behavior.  An honest self-inventory will go a long way.

Procrastination image available from Shutterstock.

Fighting Procrastination

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). Fighting Procrastination. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Feb 2014
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