Quick Tips to Beat Procrastination

Photo of Woman Showing Frustrations on Her Face
Photo by Yan Krukau

Are you ready to become more productive and finally beat procrastination?

Ahh procrastination – the enemy of progress… It can be so difficult to get yourself out of the trap of procrastination, especially when you NEED to get sh*t done.

It's been my mission for years to beat procrastination. I never realised it was called anything when I was in school in the 80's and 90's. But, I knew that as I became older, and results began to matter, I found it harder and harder to just get it done.

Move forward to the year 2000, I began a psychology degree and procrastination was a firmly embedded behaviour. From redecorating my home, to having a huge clear out, or booking a break away… it was always very obvious when I had a deadline approaching!

While I make light of it, it's definitely something that I wanted to have more control over, and these tips I'm sharing have helped me beat procrastination 85% of the time. Although the good old fashioned pressure of a looming deadline is probably still my biggest motivator, when you work for yourself it can be more difficult to feel that sense of urgency.

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Understand Your Triggers to Beat Procrastination

Procrastination can be frustrating and make you feel stuck and incapable of doing the work. Becoming aware of what triggers your procrastinating behaviour is the first step to overcoming it.

Once you know why, you can put things in place to support yourself. For example, if you know that you are easily distracted – even when doing something you enjoy, switch off your devices / set Do Not Disturb and allow yourself a set amount of time to simply focus.

In simple terms, the act of procrastination tends to be linked to wanting to stop the negative feelings and emotions that you're experiencing because of the task in front of you. Below are 6 key reasons to help you identify why you procrastinate.

6 Reasons Why People Procrastinate

1. Fear of Failure – The fear of failing is probably one of the biggest triggers. When you begin something new, you may worry more that you won't do it well. This worry or fear can be enough to make you avoid starting the task altogether.

2. Lack of Motivation – Sometimes, there are just those times when no amount of “I want this, I can do this!” mantras will make a tiny bit of difference. The lack of motivation can then lead to procrastination. This can be especially true if it's something you don't like working on!

3. Feeling Overwhelmed – When a goal or a task feels too big or too complicated, it’s easy to quickly feel overwhelmed. As with fear of failure, it can lead to avoidance of starting. Think about how you feel when you know you've got a hard task in front of you – your stomach drops, you may feel uneasy or even anxious. By avoiding it, that feeling disappears!

4. Perfectionism – This is another really common cause of procrastination, and one that I continue to work on myself. It links to how you're feeling, your self-confidence, fear of getting it wrong as well as

5. Distractions – Distractions are everywhere nowadays thanks to those little handheld computers and instant access to a wealth of information and entertainment online. If you work from home, it can be easy to be distracted by day-to-day life, good weather, family etc. If you're working on something less fun – these distractions will be screaming for your attention!

6. Lack of Understanding – If you're not clear on what you need to do, or how you need to do it, tasks can feel even more daunting. You may feel more stressed or anxious about making a start, so inevitably you put it off. You can also get stuck in learning mode rather than actually doing the work.

Recognise Your Own Patterns

As the examples above have shown, the root of procrastination tends to be linked with emotion. Recognising what your own triggers are, and the patterns that lead to avoidant behaviour, as well as those that motivate you, will help you beat procrastination.

A great idea is to keep a journal to help you spot common themes and identify your triggers. Pay attention to your thoughts when you're about to work on something. Are you feeling energised and confident? Or, are you feeling reluctant or worried? Make a note of your energy levels in that moment, your mindset, and the thoughts you notice.

Make a note of behaviours, or your level of distraction in those moments. Think about the tasks and what's involved. Are you feeling confident about the task? Is it fun or boring? Is it straightforward or quite complicated? Are you clear on what needs to be done, or are you feeling unsure about things?

You can either reflect on these things in the moment, or at the end of each day. To begin with, it may be useful to take a moment and pay attention to these things before you plan to sit and work.

Once you make these observations, you can look at your current approach and make any changes that could help you beat procrastination as it's happening.

Mindset to Beat Procrastination

Using the triggers you've identified, you can then begin to evaluate meaning behind them.

For example:

Fear of Failure – Think about the root of this. Why do you feel this additional pressure? How can you give yourself grace? If this fear is stopping you from starting, give yourself permission to do just enough. Or, to complete it to a ‘good enough' standard. Removing this pressure can create a feeling of calm, allowing your mind to focus on practical steps.

Lack of Motivation – Relying on motivation to get stuff done is rarely enough. Motivation is tied with how you're feeling, so if you're exhausted and you're looking at an entire day doing something tedious – the chances are that motivation will run and hide. To counter this you need to return to your reason why. Visualise the difference achieving this goal will make.

Feeling Overwhelmed – Are you approaching this project without taking the time to break down the steps? When you're focused on the end destination it can easily feel overwhelming and seem so far away. By planning and breaking it down into smaller, achievable goals will improve your confidence as you look at what you need to focus on step by step.

Perfectionism – This one gets a lot of us! The best way I have found to deal with perfectionism is to approach my work as a draft or a good enough version. If I try to get it how I want right from the off – I wastes hours if not days on it. Use journaling to understand what's causing this need for perfectionism. (Hint – it's probably due to fear of judgement).

Distractions – This will depend on your work set up. If you work in an office, book space where you won't be interrupted, or block out your shared calendar. If you work from home, introduce boundaries for yourself. Unplug your phone, put a sign on your door and commit to working for a length of time before you take a break. Activate DND on your devices, and step away from emails or doom-scrolling!

Lack of Understanding – How clear are you on what is expected and needed from you? If you are unsure it will lead to loss of confidence. To remedy this, plan and prepare before you get to work. Plan weekly / daily reviews to help you monitor progress. However, also be mindful that it isn't just a lack of confidence. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Once you start working, things tend to snowball and evolve, so it's okay to not know it all right away.

Self Compassion

If fear of failure is one of your main triggers, self compassion will help you enormously.

It's easy to forget that we all take time to learn things. A sense of pride and not wanting to look incompetent can drive you to try and get it all right the moment you begin.

You wouldn't expect children to master algebra straight away would you – so why do you lump massive amounts of pressure on yourself without giving yourself grace for being a beginner too!

In order to beat procrastination, pay attention to your own needs, feelings and emotions around the tasks. Journal, reflect, and most importantly, be kind to yourself!

Set Clear & Achievable Goals

Another key strategy to beat procrastination is to remove the overwhelm by breaking the tasks down.

As discussed above, if you're looking at the very end point, it can seem very far away, with a mountain of tasks and steps to be completed before you get there.

When you break these larger goals down, you can focus on the actual steps you need to take right now. Little by little, as you completed each step you'll achieve your goal.

You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step

Martin Luther King Jr

When something feels achievable – it's far easier to sit down and get it done. Once again it's linking back to your emotions and how you're feeling. Being able to tick things off your list is so motivating, so this approach can be very effective.

Plus, like I mentioned before, give yourself the grace you deserve – especially if you're new to it, or if it's a real challenge for you.

Prioritise Tasks

Prioritising tasks is another way to beat procrastination because it allows you to see the things that have to be done more urgently and the things that can wait.

If getting started is your issue, you can focus on only the very urgent tasks, and what often happens then, is you're on a roll and momentum has built.

It can also be used as part of your back-up plan. If you know you're going to struggle to hit targets, and have lots of tasks that need your attention, focus on what absolutely has to be looked at, and the rest can be tackled after a decent break or an early night!

As well as the above, prioritise tasks in a way that mixes more taxing jobs with lower energy things. This can help bring a little balance into your day which is great for increased energy and improved productivity.

Create a Productive Environment

Creating a work environment that's productive can help you beat procrastination. If you're easily distractible, think about what you could do in your space to minimise this risk.

How can you boost your energy in your space? Is your desk next to a window? Are you warm / cool enough? Is your chair comfy? Do you need to work in quiet, or is music helpful for you?

As well as removing distractions from the space itself, being mindful of those other factors can help you increase productivity and beat procrastination in your daily life.

Create Helpful Routines

The final tip to help you beat procrastination is to create helpful routines. If you prepare well it makes it easier to avoid things like indecisiveness and decision fatigue.

By having a clear routine in place, you don't have to think about what you need to do next as it will become an automatic habit and routine.

Things you can do include:

  • Tidy your workspace at the end of the day.
  • Get all of your tools and resources ready so you can just sit down and work.
  • Organise your files and paperwork to lessen the risk of distraction.
  • Task and time batch so that you have scheduled time to check emails / do admin / focus sessions etc.
  • Create a morning routine to set yourself up for the day.

You can read more about the benefits of habits are routines here:

Tools, Resources & Support

Each post I add my favourite tools and resources, so here are some more just for you:

Your Growth System – This all-in-one system for service providers / coaches / therapists / VA's etc. is a perfect way to save time & energy. Improve your productivity and beat procrastination by having everything you need to run your business in one place!

Time Audit – Gain a clear understanding of exactly where your time and your energy is spent. Highly recommend doing this if you're planning to focus on increased productivity.

Canva Pro – Upgrade your content design with Canva or Canva Pro. Explore the enhanced features available in Pro. Grab your free trial here.

Etsy – Are you ready to create your own online store? Etsy is a brilliant shopping platform that's used by millions. Setting up your store is simple, and when you sign up with this link we both get 40 free listings!

Task Batching – I created this task batching / brain dump workbook to help you get to grips with batching tasks. You can also read the post here for further info!

Final Thoughts

Procrastination is largely linked to your feelings and emotions. There are several strategies you can use to beat procrastination, and the ones mentioned here are ones I use myself.

When I'm working with my degree students, one of the main things that holds them back is their worry of not doing it right, or not doing well enough.

By encouraging them to aim for good enough, the pressure they feel lifts significantly.

As always, remember that what works from some may not work for others, so find your way to manage these feelings, and if you need to, make the changes needed to beat procrastination and achieve your goals.

I'd love to hear from you! What's your favourite tip to finally beat procrastination?

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Meet Lynsey

Lynsey Wall, Coach & Mentor at Coach Writes. About me - A headshot of Lynsey smiling. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue framed glasses. Office walls behind her.

Hey there! I'm Lynsey, a coach, counsellor, and mentor for low energy, introverted or low confident female coaches & small business owners. With over 5 years’ experience of running businesses, and over a decade as a tutor and trainer, I've learned the value of effective time management that energises you through working with your energy.

I've lived with chronic illness – ME/CFS since 2011 and since then I re-trained as a counsellor, and achieved a distinction for my MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice; all while running 4 businesses! I want that for you as well & it is possible with the right support and pathway to success.

Improving your mindset, finding acceptance and developing a solution-focused approach to achieving your goals is my passion. Blending mental health support where needed, as well as a supportive space and methods to manage your work more effectively.

If you'd like to know more about working with me, you can email [email protected] or find me on socials (links in the menu)

Have you seen my online store Shop.QuietlyConquer? Find DFY templates, downloads & more!

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