It might not be procrastination

Sometimes what we call procrastination is actually just making the choice not to do something. Just because you have a task to complete, doesn’t mean you need to do it right away, maybe you don’t feel like it.

We often create this sense of urgency as though nothing can or should be done any later than right now.

Of course, there is a clear issue when not completing the task has negative repercussions such as being overloaded, stressed and rushing to complete things. However, if you’re simply choosing to do something later then it might not be so bad.

In the spirit of getting things done


I think that most people that procrastinate also have periods of intense productivity. It’s the only way to keep things in balance otherwise they’d just fall apart and miss deadlines.

I find that as much as a person may procrastinate they are also capable of getting things done if they create the right environment fo themselves.

Perhaps, they will write a to do list that they are able to focus on completing tasks whereas usually they would look at the list but take little to no action. They’d tell themselves that they’ll do it later or do it tomorrow even if it could be done right now, even if it would only take 10 minutes.

But when this same person is in the spirit of getting things done, they are able to get mote done in a few hours or a day than they would usually get done in the space of a week.

The problem with putting things off

One of the best things that we can do for ourselves is, do things that need to be done, instead of putting them off.

Our lives would be so much easier and our stress levels would be significantly lower if only we didn’t wait to get things done.

Often these things to be done are small and don’t take much time at all but the longer we wait the more the urgency builds or the problem grows. Then, all of a sudden we begin to feel overwhelmed by something we could have resolved and moved on from, weeks or even months ago.

Don’t wait for magic

When people procrastinate they often tell themselves they are waiting until they are ready or waiting for a feeling that will push them to begin.

But the truth is you just have to start. Instead of waiting for some kind of magic to turn you into someone that gets things done straight away, make it a habit.

Any habit or behaviour takes practice to implement and practice to change.

So, instead of hiding behind the label of being a procrastinator start making a conscious effort to be the kind of person you want to be. The kind of person that gets things done sooner rather than later.

Procrastination and relying on stress

Anyone who regularly procrastinates will tell you that they want to do the thing but they just keep putting it off. Often when we procrastinate we justify it to ourselves by prioriting things with low urgency that still give us that good feeling of that comes from getting things done.

We tell ourselves we’ll start later or tomorrow and we convince ourselves that that we still have enough time to get it done.

But what tends to happen is we just continue to put things off more and more. We do this until our stress levels start to increase and we reach the point where if we don’t start now we’ll miss the deadline.

And so you finally begin.

I had a recent experience with procrastination and once the work was complete I ended up reflecting on my behaviour.

When you get into the habit of choosing to procrastinate until the last possible moment, you train yourself to rely on stress to get things done. And so the next time you have a deadline you’re unable to find the motivation because you’re waiting for the adrenaline to kick in.

I think there are 2 main ways to stop procrastinating.

The first way is to experience things going wrong as a result of your procrastination. When our habits have negative implications this encourages a change in behaviour. It might start with you giving yourself 5 days for something instead of two and slowly build up until you become someone who always makes sure they have enough time.

The second is to just start straight away next time. We tell ourselves it’s difficult to start and just decide that it’s true when it’s not at all. Starting takes a little effort and commitment but it’s not as challenging as you tell yourself.

It’ll probably help to remind yourself of the benefits of starting straight away like being able to work at a steady pace instead of having to cram everything into a short period of time.

If you’re someone with a habit of procrastinating, it might not seem easy to change but it’s definitely possible.

Not enough time

One of the most popular excuses people make is not having enough time.

Yet you’re able to make time for things that you don’t even really consider to be important.

Meanwhile, it’s your life long dream that you’re willing to put on hold or sometimes put off altogether.

There’s no denying that it can be difficult to make time but surely you’d be willing to find a way for the things you truly care about.

Finding a way might mean getting up a little earlier, watching one episode of that show you like instead of three or even making use of your train journeys.

It might seem challenging but with a little thought and a little effort, it’s definitely possible to make the most of the time you have.

Slow progress

There’s a popular saying that goes ‘Slow progress is better than no progress’. I totally agree.

What we often do is rush because we want progress to be quick.

Perhaps this is because slow progress doesn’t feel like moving forward in the moment. It’s only, in a few weeks or months time that you’re able to see how far you’ve come.

This idea of choosing to rush instead of embracing slow progress can be applied to many scenarios, one of which is procrastination.

Dedicating a few days to get something done is often much more appealing than spending a few weeks doing something bit by bit.

But often we don’t have a few days spare, just a few moments each week.

And the great thing about slow progress is that it helps build a habit of long term commitment.

On the other hand when you rush you’re relying on adrenaline and cortisol, what your body releases as a response to stress which is great in the short-tun but not something you want to make a habit out of.

Two types of perfectionists

When you think of a perfectionist, what comes to mind?

Almost every time it’s the type A personality who is incredibly organised and competitive. The sort of person who is particular and also explicit about wanting to get things right.

But there is a different kind of perfectionist too.

The second is the sort of person that procrastinates and fears their best will never be good enough.

Beneath the surface they seek perfectionism too. They have such high expectations that they won’t even try if they think they can’t meet them. This sort of person feels disappointed if they produce something that isn’t ‘perfect’.

The difference between these 2 people is that the first is willing to try.

When to start

Do it now.

There are 100 cliches about the right time to begin

You’ve heard them, I’ve heard them and sometimes i even write them.

But the truth is now is really as good a time as any.

If you think something is worth putting off and doing later instead, ask yourself why.

Do you genuinely have more work to do behind the scenes. More planning, learning and preparing.

Or are you using it as an excuse to hide.

You don’t have to wait until you’re perfect to start putting stuff out out there, learn to see the beauty in your growth.

You say you’ll do it later but later may never come, so why not do it now?

Boredom and avoidance

If you think you’re bored you might find that there’s actually something you’re avoiding.

So often we find ourselves feeling like we have nothing to do, when in reality we’re just putting off what needs to be done.

When you don’t want to do something, it feels easier to avoid it in favour of something else, even if something else is doing nothing at all