Overcoming Procrastination

There are times in our lives that we do not commit to doing something that needs to be done. For some of us, we can be overwhelmed with guilt afterwards or this irresponsibility will somehow add on to our anxiety and cause some unfortunate or unwanted circumstances in our lives.

When it comes to procrastination, how do we know that it is a habit and how do we get rid of this habit? Let’s see what we can do to kick out this habit of putting things off and lead a stress-free life, knowing we have done our part.

Do I Procrastinate?

Chances are, we have all put off doing something we are supposed to at some point in our lives. However, not every one of us does it out of habit, so how do we know if we are procrastinators?

What is procrastination?

By definition, procrastination simply means an act of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something despite knowing there will be a risk of negative consequences of doing so.

If you find yourself constantly putting something off and only address it later on or at the last minute, you might have a habit of procrastination. Other signs of procrastination include always saying “I’ll do it later”, always hitting snooze, easily distracted, and a tendency to not finish a task.

Why do I procrastinate?

Nobody is born a procrastinator. There are many factors that contribute to why we procrastinate. According to Dr Alla Demutska, Lecturer of Clinical Psychology at James Cook University in Singapore, “Your family and life history play a role in the development of procrastination. For example, a harsh controlling family environment is often linked to the development of procrastination. Procrastination is a learned response, which means you can unlearn it. First, you need to understand why and how you use procrastination, and then learn how to change this habit.”

Procrastination has also been linked to unhelpful responses to fear, lack of self-esteem, and distraction. “When we feel anxious or insecure, our amygdala, ‘the threat detector’ part of our brain, perceives the task we are facing as a threat. The amygdala starts to hijack the brain and triggers a fight-or-flight response. This causes problems in our logical and analytical thinking and we have even greater difficulty prioritising things and organising our thoughts,” Dr Demutska explains.



What Happens When I Procrastinate?

If you find that you are showing signs of procrastination, you might have experienced these consequences before.

Chaotic life

People who procrastinate often struggle with time management. They often find it hard to stick to a schedule and look for reasons to justify delaying tasks.

According to Timothy A Pychyl, Ph.D, “When we feel bad in relation to a task at hand, we’re more likely to procrastinate in an effort to feel better. Of course, this short-term mood repair comes at a cost to our future self.”

This means that while procrastination offers a momentary relief from negative emotions, it comes rushing back the moment we have to face the consequences of the delays.

Undesirable reputation

An article on impossiblepsychservices.com.sg says, “Procrastination is often dismissed as mere laziness or poor time management skills.” Therefore, we often see procrastinators through a negative lens and label them as lazy and irresponsible.

These negative reputations that are associated with procrastinators will add to the stress, anxiety, fear, and low self-esteem they were trying to escape in the first place.

How Do I Stop Procrastinating?

Now that we have seen how detrimental procrastination can be, why don’t we explore different ways we can address and overcome procrastination? A life much more fulfilling and stress-free awaits us!



Break down tasks

If you feel overwhelmed by tasks in your life and fear you may not be able to handle it as a whole, break them down to bite-sized pieces so that you may tackle it one step at a time.

For example, making your bed in the morning. Try to focus your attention on just the bed-making task and deal with other circumstances later like doing laundry, preparing lunch for kids’ school, etc. Focus on just the bed and start to think of it a step at a time. Maybe fluff the pillows, then straighten the sheets, and lastly do up the comforter. You will soon see that what may seem to take up a long time takes only a fraction of what you imagined.

Reduce distractions

Distractions like social media and television shows can take away our time from completing a task, most times a lot more than we like. Try putting off attending to these distractions until after tasks are done. This will give you something to look forward to as you work to finish the tasks you need to do.

Try not to juggle more than one task at a time. People who procrastinate are always feeling overwhelmed. If you are cleaning your home, do it one step at a time. If you find yourself distracted with a different task, do your best to keep to the task at hand until completion first. For example you are sweeping the floor and realise the shelves need dusting. Finish sweeping up before you get to the dusting. Better yet, make a list and go through it one at a time.

Reward yourself

When you are setting yourself a list of to-do tasks, write a small reward you can look forward to at the end of that list. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, it can be as small as a relaxing nap. Giving yourself a reward will help motivate you to keep up the good progress and will help you overcome being a procrastinator.



Overcoming a negative trait may be difficult but it is one of the most fulfilling things we can do. Not only will you be able to enjoy a stress-free life, you’ll find that your social life, work life and personal life becomes better and more enjoyable. You will also see that people around you tend to trust you more, have more respect for you, and you will in turn feel better about yourself too. 

Try to take it one day at a time and you will soon see a massive change in your life. If you ever feel like it’s too late to make a change, just remember that doing something now is never too late!