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How do we stop procrastinating?

Gaëlle Coudert Feb 22, 2022 5:59:38 PM
How to stop procrastinating

It’s already 10 O’clock. You’ve been sitting at your desk since 8:30, have checked your emails (twice), read all the news (and your daily horoscope), opened all important tabs on your computer and been over your to-do list (twice also). But you have not actually started to work yet… Could this be qualified as a procrastination crisis?

Procrastination is “the tendency to put off to later what is to be done now”. Does that ring a bell? You may be a natural procrastinator or may have occasionally been one. Don’t worry, you are not alone, procrastination is a common tendency! Some people are quite happy to get things done, even if it may seem boring, while other people will note these tasks at the very end of their to-do list or keep putting them off to later.

Most of the time, procrastination is caused by anxiety: we may postpone a meeting because we are afraid we will not be at our best, we may avoid a task because we are afraid that we will not complete it well. Procrastination often concerns perfectionists: why even start a project if we are not sure that the result will be perfect? Yet we have all heard that what is better is the enemy of what is good! So, perfectionists and others, here are a couple of tips to help you get out of this bad habit.

  • Write lists. To-do lists in which you also specify what has been done, how urgent each task is and how long it may take. You can even prepare a provisional work schedule for the whole week and consider the level of urgency of each task. It is important for this schedule to be realistic. Otherwise, it may lead to failure, stress and tension and then… more procrastination!
  • Divide tasks.
    Does this major file seem overwhelming? In order to make it seem easier, you can try to divide this major work project in several small tasks: research on the subject, summary of your research, writing the introduction, writing the analysis… And make progress one step at a time when scheduling these smaller tasks in your week schedule.
  • Set up a pleasant ritual can help get you to work. For example, you can prepare a cup tea or meditate for a couple of minutes (or both) before you start. This may help integrate a little joy in a moment which you anticipate as unpleasant.
  • Boost your motivation by deciding of a personal reward: a calm moment, some coffee, a piece of chocolate or a simple emotional reward: “once I have finished this task, I will feel proud, relaxed, released!” Let’s get started!