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Procrastination: Why we procrastinate and how to overcome it

Coach Anna Hofmann MBA MIM by Anna Hofmann MBA MIM
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When I work with clients, procrastination is a topic that regularly comes up in our sessions. And while there is no one-size fits-it-all solution to become more productive there are a few simple strategies that can help you stop procrastinating.

Here is all you need to know about procrastination, why you find it so difficult to tackle some of the tasks on your to-do lists and how you can overcome procrastination.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is when you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing.

No matter how well organized you are, chances are that you have caught yourself scrolling on facebook or shopping online when you should have been spending that time on work or school-related projects.

It is natural that we like to put things off that are unpleasant or boring, choosing the easier task over the more difficult one or avoiding that difficult conversation.

And you are not alone! Research suggests that 95% of us procrastinate to some degree.

However, while it may improve our short-term mood, the act of delaying something important over a longer period of time can have serious consequences. It can make us feel guilty or ashamed and cause anxiety. We can become demotivated and disillusioned, which can lead to depression or even job loss.

Why you procrastinate (It has nothing to do with laziness!)

Procrastination often sneaks into our lives when tasks seem overwhelming or lack immediate rewards. It’s a way our brains cope with stress or perceived difficulty. Our brains are wired to seek out immediate rewards, making the allure of procrastination, like scrolling through Instagram or binge-watching shows, hard to resist.

Additionally, perfectionism and a desire for flawless results may paralyze us from starting.

Our brain often pushes us to feel before we think.

On a neurological level, procrastination involves a complex interplay of brain regions and neurotransmitters. The prefrontal cortex, responsible for planning and decision making, often battles with the limbic system, associated with emotions and pleasure.

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to motivation, also plays a role. Tasks with delayed rewards may not stimulate enough dopamine, making procrastination more appealing.
Understanding these psychological elements can help in developing strategies to overcome procrastination and improve productivity.

How to Stop Procrastinating

“The secret of getting ahead is starting. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Mark Twain

Here is a set of tips how to kick procrastination to the curb:

1. Create a routine: Establish a consistent work schedule. One of my personal favourite time management methods is the Pomodoro technique – work for a set time, then take a break. Rinse and repeat.

2. Set realistic goals: Be honest about what you can achieve, avoiding overwhelm and setting yourself up for success.

3. Break it down: Chunk tasks into smaller manageable parts. It makes the mountain seem less daunting and ticking off a smaller task will help you stay motivated.

4. Do the hardest ones first: Tackle the most crucial tasks first to avoid getting bogged down by less essential stuff

5. Reward yourself: Treat yourself after completing tasks. Acknowledge small victories along the way to keep your motivation high.

6. Eliminate distractions: Minimize things that divert your attention and PUT THAT PHONE ON SILENT!

7. Get started: The first step is often the hardest. Once you begin, momentum tends to kick in. Now, conquer that to-do list!

Procrastination is a sneaky thief of time and productivity, but it’s not invincible. By understanding the reasons behind our procrastination habits and implementing simple yet effective techniques, we can break the habit and boost our productivity.

In the end, overcoming procrastination is all about being aware of our tendencies and finding what works best for us. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.

If you are looking for professional help with procrastination, do get in touch and book a free clarity session. You’ve nothing to lose except your current dissatisfaction!

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