How To Stop Procrastinating - The Complete Guide To Overcoming Procrastination

How To Stop Procrastinating – The Complete Guide To Overcoming Procrastination


Procrastination is a common problem that many people struggle with. If you find yourself constantly delaying tasks, getting distracted, and not making progress, know that you’re not alone.


Overcoming procrastination is a constant battle that requires self-awareness and understanding of one’s own behavior. This article aims to explain the root causes of procrastination, provide a detailed system for overcoming it, and teach you how to prioritize important tasks.


In summary, this article will help you understand why you procrastinate, provide a step-by-step approach to overcoming it, and guide you towards achieving your goals.


Understanding the Primary Causes of Procrastination

PART 1: Understanding the Primary Causes of Procrastination


Procrastination is a common phenomenon that affects many people. It’s something that we all experience at some point in our lives. We tend to put off tasks until the last minute, get easily distracted, and engage in activities that don’t contribute to anything useful.


As a result, we often feel bad about ourselves for not accomplishing important things. We compare ourselves to others who seem to be more active and productive, and we start to believe that we’re lazy and incapable of achieving great things. This can leave us feeling helpless and alone, especially when we try to reach out to others for support.


In one study, researchers looked at 46 people who often delay doing things (procrastinators) and compared them to 52 people who don’t usually delay (non-procrastinators). They found that the procrastinators felt less good about themselves, were more worried about what others thought of them, and were more likely to make excuses for themselves.


In another study, they looked at 48 procrastinators and compared them to 54 non-procrastinators. They found that the procrastinators were less likely to try to figure out who they are, but they were more likely to be confused about their identity. However, they were not worse at thinking and understanding things than the non-procrastinators.

Scientists are still learning about procrastination and trying to figure out if it’s a condition that makes people very anxious and scared to do things. They need to do more research to find out for sure.

However, the truth is that everyone struggles with procrastination in some way or another. Overcoming procrastination is not an easy task because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. People procrastinate for different reasons and in different ways. Therefore, before we can explore strategies to eliminate procrastination, we must first understand why we do it.




One of the most common reasons why people procrastinate, particularly when starting a new activity, is perfectionism. Instead of focusing on the beginning, people prefer to think about the results from the very start.


For instance, writers may read a book every day but hardly ever get around to writing one. Artists may start countless works, but finish very few. Perfectionists tend to keep their ideals in mind because the actual result may not meet their expectations. Therefore, they wait for the perfect moment to start, and even when they do start, they often get bogged down and never finish their projects or never make them public.


However, there is no perfect time or context to do something meaningful. When we constrain ourselves and expect only one version of the outcome (something we cannot directly control), we become less flexible. We can no longer adjust and optimize the process, and may get caught up in a reverie or become paralyzed by the amount of effort that needs to be put forth.




One of the primary reasons people procrastinate when starting a new activity is fear of the unknown. It can be intimidating to strive for high ideals and undertake new ventures. What if we fail to achieve our goals? What if we invest a great deal of time and energy and still come up short? What if we change our minds halfway through?


There are countless “what ifs” that run through our minds when we contemplate beginning something, particularly if it holds personal significance. It’s not our fault. As humans, we are wired to be apprehensive about the unknown. Withdrawal and flight from uncertainty are among the most effective self-defense mechanisms that we have developed through evolution.


Fear of the unknown is not inherently negative; it guards us against unnecessary risks and safeguards us from harm. However, when we aim to take a leap forward toward achieving our important objectives, it is not particularly useful.




Another cause of procrastination is the feeling of inadequacy, where we doubt our ability to complete the tasks at hand. For instance, you may have planned to go to the gym after work, but after a tiring day, you lack the motivation to follow through.


Motivation is a complex interplay of psychological and physiological factors. Our beliefs, self-awareness, and mental models all contribute to our level of motivation. Likewise, our physical, mental, and emotional state can also affect our motivation levels.


While learning self-motivation techniques is a good starting point, it is not a sustainable long-term strategy. We will delve deeper into how to overcome procrastination, even when our motivation is low.




Another cause of procrastination is the feeling of inadequacy, where we doubt our ability to complete the tasks at hand. For instance, you may have planned to go to the gym after work, but after a tiring day, you lack the motivation to follow through.

In a world rich in information, precisely this wealth implies deficiencies in other areas: a deficit of attention. Why? Because it is quite obvious that the information requires the attention of the recipients. Therefore, an abundance of information inevitably leads to a lack of attention. -Herbert Simon, social science expert


Motivation is a complex interplay of psychological and physiological factors. Our beliefs, self-awareness, and mental models all contribute to our level of motivation. Likewise, our physical, mental, and emotional state can also affect our motivation levels.


While learning self-motivation techniques is a good starting point, it is not a sustainable long-term strategy. We will delve deeper into how to overcome procrastination, even when our motivation is low.




The root cause of procrastination often lies within the task itself. Think about it: what is something you know you should do, but can’t bring yourself to do? It’s not because you want it to be perfect, or because you’re afraid, unmotivated, or distracted. You procrastinate because you simply don’t want to do that thing.


Whether it’s making your bed as soon as you wake up, doing laundry every week, or organizing your budget after receiving your paycheck, every task, big or small, comes with a certain level of resistance. Easy tasks may seem unimportant and boring, while important tasks can feel overwhelming and daunting.


The first step in overcoming this resistance is to realize that we don’t have to do everything alone. We can delegate certain tasks to others, and for the tasks that we must do ourselves, we can break them down into smaller, more manageable steps and schedule them in advance. Additionally, we can use time management techniques, such as the Pomodoro technique, to tackle these tasks in short bursts of focused effort.


A Complete System for Breaking Procrastination

Part II: A Complete System for Breaking Procrastination


Now that you have learned the top five reasons why people procrastinate, it is time to discover some strategies that can help you overcome procrastination. Before doing so, there are three important points that you should consider:


First, you need to identify the root cause of your procrastination. Once you understand what triggers your procrastination, you can work on developing strategies to address it.

Second, be aware that eliminating procrastination does not cure it. Procrastination is a natural tendency that everyone experiences at some point. However, with some methods and effort, you can learn to overcome it.


Third, be prepared to put in the work. If you expect to read this article and magically become a productive person overnight, then these strategies may not be for you. Overcoming procrastination requires consistent effort and dedication. However, the good news is that some of the strategies can be implemented in less than two minutes, making them easy to adopt.


Let’s get started!




Even Elon Musk, despite feeling tired, continues to work on his mission to develop renewable energy and send a man to Mars. He is truly obsessed with his goals. The same applies to Steve Jobs, who chose to be less than kind in certain situations rather than compromise his vision of the perfect computer.


And the list goes on. Top performers and high achievers are not immune to procrastination and distraction. Instead, they are obsessed with what they want to achieve and what they are doing. This obsession strengthens their mind and body, and they won’t stop until they achieve what they set out to do.


To develop this obsession with your own goals, you need to set them correctly.


Set your goals according to your vision and values


When setting goals, many people focus on material possessions or things they want to acquire. However, this approach may not lead to true satisfaction or fulfillment. It’s important to ask yourself whether these goals truly align with your personal values and desires or if they are simply influenced by external factors.


To develop an intense obsession with your goals, start by thinking about who you want to be rather than what you want to have. This approach will help you set goals that align with your vision and values, allowing you to stay motivated and committed in the long term.


Develop your ability to focus using the 25/5 rule


Warren Buffett is known for his wealth and success as an investor, and one of the secrets to his productivity is the 25/5 rule. This rule involves creating two lists: one with 25 goals or ideals you wish to achieve, and another with the top five priorities from that list.


By focusing solely on these top five goals, you can develop your ability to concentrate and make significant progress in achieving what matters most to you. The other 20 goals can wait for another time or be delegated to others. The 25/5 rule is an excellent technique for improving your focus and productivity.


Transform Your Goals into Achievable Steps and Actions


The 25/5 rule is a strategy rooted in the Pareto principle, which advises that it is more effective to concentrate on the top 20% of your priorities. However, even after prioritizing your goals, initiating the process can be difficult. The best approach is to break down your big goals into smaller ones, and then convert them into achievable milestones.


Once you have identified these milestones, establish a plan for each one. Determine what you need to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to accomplish your objectives. Subsequently, transform these actions into habits.


Keep Your Goals in Sight


It’s important to acknowledge that we all forget things. Our brains aren’t built to retain everything we want for 5-10 years. To keep your goals top of mind, display them in various places, such as your car, cellphone screen, and bathroom mirror. This way, you can review and remind yourself of your goals daily.


While you can create a list of your goals and read them every day, utilizing images and visualizations is an even more effective option. Our brains process images more readily than words, making photos and visualizations a powerful tool for describing and picturing your objectives.




Most people stop at the initial step of goal setting, while some stop at creating a plan. However, you won’t stop there. To become passionately committed to your objectives, you must free yourself from self-sabotaging beliefs and inner voices.


Evaluate and Challenge Your Beliefs


The process is simple, but it’s not easy. The only way to reprogram your mindset is to regularly scrutinize and question it. Whenever you become aware of those inner voices, grab a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts. Then, revisit those thoughts and ask yourself:


Are they true? Do they reflect reality or are they merely a product of my emotions and fears?


When did I begin believing these thoughts? Do I know anyone who has defied this belief?


What can I do to test this belief?


The more you challenge your beliefs, the more you will be able to view things from a different perspective. And the easier it will be for you to ignore them and take action in your favor.


Confront Your Fears


Now, let’s examine the last question from earlier: “What can I do to test this belief?” In most cases, your answers to this question will be rather uncomfortable because it involves stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Fear will try to paralyze you and hinder you from taking action.


This is when “fear-setting” (as discussed by Tim Ferriss in his 2017 TED Talk) becomes an effective solution. Once again, take a piece of paper and write down your fears, one by one. Then ask yourself:


What is the worst-case scenario in this situation?


How can I bounce back if this happens?


What steps can I take to prevent this from happening?


You will often discover that the worst-case scenario is not as terrible as you initially thought and can be resolved relatively easily. Additionally, think about how you can prevent the situation from occurring in a more logical and structured manner, instead of panicking and procrastinating.




Once you feel the urge to take action and silence the voices in your head, it’s time to delve into the core of the issue. Many people skip the first two steps and jump right into implementing the techniques listed below, only to discover that they’re not making any progress. Therefore, it’s wise to follow the previous two steps before moving onto this one.


Procrastination is largely influenced by our psychology – how we think and behave – as well as our physiology – how our bodies respond. Both of these factors are crucial for effectively overcoming long-term procrastination and achieving optimal results.


Eliminating Procrastination: Tips and Tricks


  • Let go of perfectionism. One of the most common reasons people procrastinate is because they strive for perfection, which often leads to failure. Instead of waiting for things to happen as you imagine, focus on taking action. Success is typically achieved by making incremental progress through consistent action.


  • Understand the cost of inaction. In both economics and decision-making, we tend to avoid losses rather than achieving equivalent gains. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as loss aversion. Procrastination occurs when we fear losing our current comfort. Interestingly, we can use this to our advantage by recognizing the cost of inaction. Consider what you will lose—opportunities, wealth, time—if you don’t take action. This can serve as motivation, pushing you forward and freeing you from the grip of stagnation.


  • Try the two-minute rule. Our minds crave instant gratification. We desire quick and satisfactory results without exerting much effort. It’s challenging to take the first step when the task ahead seems daunting, such as two hours of work. Instead of fixating on completing the entire task, focus on doing it for just two minutes. Remind yourself that those two minutes will make the next two minutes easier, and eventually, you will finish what needs to be done.


  • Eliminate distractions that trigger procrastination. Procrastination is often a habit that stems from certain triggers. When these triggers occur, we enter an automatic routine, such as putting off work or getting sidetracked, then receiving a reward—usually relaxation or the illusion of productivity. One of the most effective ways to overcome procrastination is to identify these triggers and change your routine. So, when you’re having trouble concentrating, try reading a book or taking a walk instead of getting distracted.


Identify triggers for procrastination. The most common triggers for procrastination are stress and boredom. Once you have recognized these triggers, establish a positive routine to replace procrastination when you feel stressed or bored.


  • Reward positive behavior. Our behavior is shaped by repeated feedback. If the feedback we receive after completing an action is positive, our brains will remember and repeat that action. On the other hand, negative feedback will make us avoid that action when the stimulus appears again. Whenever you notice that you have chosen to work instead of procrastinating, reward yourself with something like a massage or a satisfying meal. This will encourage you to continue that positive action for longer.


Improve your physiology


There are many things you can do to optimize your body and maximize your performance, which is known as biohacking. To eliminate procrastination, it’s important to get your body functioning at its best. Here are three things you can optimize:


  • Sleep: Ensure you get enough quality sleep to recharge your body and mind.


  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce stress and increase focus and productivity.


  • Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally.




Andre Agassi, a retired American professional tennis player who frequently won first place in sports competitions, never allowed anyone to touch his tennis equipment during a match. In his autobiography, he revealed that any disruption to his equipment caused distractions in his mind. Creating an environment free from distractions is critical, as it not only helps eliminate procrastination but also improves focus, enabling individuals to take mental and physical action.


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state “flow.” It is a mental state in which a person can perform work with extraordinary focus, losing track of time and space.


Here’s how to create a distraction-free environment:


  • Separate workspaces from other spaces. Create separate areas for different activities in your life. Use the bedroom for rest and sleep, the living room for relaxation and socializing, and create another space specifically for work. Do not mix them up.


  • Keep things organized. Keeping your spaces for different activities neat and organized can make it easier and more comfortable for you to work.


  • Ask people not to disturb you. Before beginning work, request that your friends, family members, or roommates refrain from interrupting you for a set period of time and let them know that you need to focus.


  • Turn off phone notifications. If possible, set your phone aside when you need to concentrate on a task. Even minor distractions can throw you off track, and it can take 20 to 40 minutes to get back into a productive mindset.


  • Set a start and end time. Distractions can easily arise when you’re exhausted, both from your surroundings and your own thoughts. If you’re working on tasks that take a lot of time and energy, schedule breaks accordingly.


Designing and maintaining your mental space


In addition to creating a physical environment for your work and life, it is essential to create a mental space that is free of distractions. This can often be more challenging than building a physical environment because distractions come from within ourselves and can come from countless directions.


  • Choose your friends carefully. You are a reflection of the five people you surround yourself with. If you constantly associate with procrastinators, you will never be able to overcome procrastination. Gradually distance yourself from lazy friends and seek out disciplined and productive individuals to surround yourself with.


  • Ask for help. Overcoming procrastination can be challenging, so to ensure you stick to your plan, ask a friend or family member to help you. If you can’t find anyone, hiring a coach or trainer is a great option.


  • Limit information consumption. The more information you consume, the more challenging it can be to think clearly. While consuming new information is an excellent way to learn, it’s important to be responsible with your learning. Create a study plan that aligns with your current goals so that you don’t create another excuse for procrastination. Remember that knowing the right information is more valuable than knowing every detail that you may never use.


Eliminating Procrastination



To change our behavior, we need motivation. However, motivation is not a lasting solution because our motivation level is never the same. That’s why people who depend solely on motivation start a thousand different projects, but never manage to complete them and move on.


The best psychological mechanism that replaces motivation is habit building. People are guided by models. Instead of depending on your motivation level each time, design a routine and form habits – these are a much better long-term strategy.


There are countless good habits that you can implement in your life forever. In the context of eliminating procrastination, here are the five most recommended habits:

  • Keeping a daily journal can help organize your thoughts and track your progress towards your goals. By recording and reviewing your actions, you can reflect on the process and make adjustments as needed.


  • It’s important to address minor tasks immediately, such as making the bed, washing dishes, and responding to emails. Completing these small tasks right away frees up mental space for more important matters.


  • To make quick decisions, use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize tasks and eliminate those that are not urgent or important.


  • Create a to-do list of 5-8 items per day and prioritize them based on importance. Avoid working on easy tasks first and instead focus on the real priorities.


  • Meditation can help calm the mind and reduce distractions, according to research.


For more information on forming lasting habits, continue reading.




This section contains a lot of information, and you might be wondering where to start. The answer is in this short section.


Overcoming procrastination is a process, not an overnight event. You don’t have to do everything at once. Here are three suggestions to get started:


Focus on the beginning, not the end.

The first strategy mentioned in this article is essential, and you need to start as soon as possible. Begin by setting your goals and identifying your fears, as outlined above. Then focus your energy on starting your goals.


Use Parkinson’s Law


Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, the more time you spend on a task, the more time it takes. To increase productivity and eliminate procrastination, use the deadline to your advantage. Set yourself a self-imposed deadline a few days or weeks before the actual deadline and stick to it. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish in a shorter time.


Remember, the process of overcoming procrastination takes time and practice. Don’t give up, and keep working towards your goals.

The 30-Day Challenge


As a final tool, I have a fun suggestion for you: try committing to doing one thing every day for 30 days that you’ve been avoiding due to laziness or procrastination.

Take a pen and paper and write down 30 small tasks that you’ve been putting off for a long time. Over the next 30 days, complete them one by one, crossing them off the list as you go and completely eliminating them from your to-do list.

This 30-day challenge will help you break through initial resistance and build the momentum you need to move forward. Imagine how accomplished you’ll feel at the end of the challenge, having finished all the things you’ve been avoiding.


If you want to learn more, improve your productivity and achieve outstanding performance, below is a list of the five most important books that I recommend. Most of the information shared here does not come directly from me, but from the authors on these lists.




The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown

Essentialism - Greg McKeown


The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg

Deep Work, by Cal Newport


Deep Work - Cal Newport


Manage Your Day-to-Day, by Jocelyn K. Glei


Manage Your Day-to-Day, by Jocelyn K. Glei

Are you ready to get down to business? Not tomorrow, TODAY!

Leave me a comment below and let me know what methods you use to avoid procrastination and what else you could do 🙂

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with others!


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