How To Overcome Procrastination

June 4, 2013

Procrastination of a task in one form or another is quite common for most of us. Whether it’s the tax return, planning a holiday or a work task we give preference to over another. The problems only occur when prolonged procrastination has an impact on your productivity.

The causes range from perfectionism, fear of the unknown and evaluation anxiety to an inability to handle the task. If you are determined to do something about it then read on to pick up a few tips.

Break Down The Task

One issue that procrastinators face is one of overwhelm and not being able to cope. Breaking the task into manageable chunks means that it is easier and therefore faster to complete one element. Achievement however small it might be is a motivator in itself.

Get into the habit of looking at any activity in terms of how you can divide it up into smaller activities. Plan how you will prioritise each element and how it will all fit together. Developing these ‘project manager’ skills can be a useful addition to your tool box and will help you cope better in the future.


Everyone likes a reward and it can be really effective as a motivator to get on and do things. Rewards come in many forms from a cup of your favourite drink to doing a task you enjoy.

When prioritising your work it often pays to do the task you are least looking forward to. Following this with a reward will create a huge boost to self-esteem and motivation plus it will spur you onto the next the task.

Choosing your reward is a personal thing and important to how you link satisfaction to completion of the task. Naturally it would be sensible not to make smoking or eating as a regular reward as this causes unhealthy habits. Generally look for other rewards that are more sustainable.

Be Reasonable In Your Own Expectations

Too many people struggle to complete their ‘to do’ lists because they set their own expectations too high. Learn to be realistic in how long tasks take and learn from experience. Forgive yourself for not completing the amount your set yourself otherwise you may affect your self-esteem and further inhibit your progress.

One quote we came across recently said something like this, ‘It takes 90% of the time to complete 90% of the task and then another 90% to complete the final 10%. This means you should always leave yourself plenty of time and not leave it to the last minute.

Just Do It!

Sometimes thinking about it is worse than actually doing it. Often it is best just to get on and do it. Worrying about how long it might take is a waste of time and energy. Working through it one step at a time means that you are taking action and moving forward.

We hope that these tips are helpful. Remember to congratulate yourself when you start to make progress. Learn how your brain works best and replicate those times when you have not procrastinated. Give these ideas a go and keep learning. Good luck!

Many thanks

Scott Rumsey

Senior Management Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Pakorn at

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