Procrastination affects people from all walks of life. In fact, one study by Dr. Piers Steel found that up to 95 percent of people, to a certain degree, procrastinate in their lives. While this is a very common issue, it can have detrimental effects on your life. When you procrastinate, you are intentionally choosing to avoid a specific task – it is an active process. This is not to be confused with laziness, which involves inactivity and making a conscious choice not to do something. Two very different things.

First, it’s important to understand the reasons why you might procrastinate. Often times, people feel anxious, stressed, or intimidated by a project and will focus on less intimidating, easier tasks before they tackle the more intense ones. Have you ever had a to-do item on your list that you couldn’t seem to get to? Or thought “I’m just not in the mood to deal with this right now.” Or maybe you have sat down to work on a task and you have given up on it to focus on a completely different task. This is common with people who work from home. You might attempt to focus on your work, but it occurs to you that it will only take a minute to throw a load of laundry in, or do the dishes, just to avoid the task you should be working on. Maybe you feel a rise in anxiety over the task, or boredom that causes you to lose your interest at the moment.

I had a professor in my doctoral program who was sharing her experience about writing her own dissertation and the anxiety that came with it. She told the class that instead of working on her dissertation, it would occur to her that it was a better idea to re-grout her entire kitchen! She would find all kinds of things she could distract herself with, rather than focusing on what she needed to do – her dissertation! She was trying to put off the inevitability of writing the monstrous task of a dissertation, which is intimidating for a lot of people. However, she had to get to a point where she buckled down and began writing it and eventually she finished it, graduated, and became a licensed psychologist with a very thriving practice doing psychological assessments, teaching, and speaking at various conferences. Think about how much she would’ve missed out on in her life had she permanently given in to her procrastination, anxiety, and fear? What if she never allowed herself to get to a place of overcoming her anxiety and fear? We can easily conclude that she wouldn’t have graduated and become a doctor, she wouldn’t have established a thriving practice and so on and so forth. You can imagine all she would’ve missed out on and how different her life would be today.

How many times have you procrastinated on something? Whether it’s a task, your goals, or aspirations? The things you know you need to get done, but haven’t? Have you ever found yourself making excuses, or justifying the reasons why you can’t get to your to-do’s? Consider the following excuses or justifications and see if any sound familiar:

  1. I’m too stressed
  2. I don’t have the time
  3. I don’t have the money
  4. I have plenty of time, I’ll get to it later
  5. It’s not the right time
  6. When my children are older
  7. I have too much on my plate
  8. When things are not so chaotic
  9. When I find a different job
  10. When I am out of debt

Think about how much more you could have accomplished in your life if you had just given a little more of yourself? Even 25 percent more, or 50 percent more? I want you to take a moment and reflect back on the prior year. Make a list of all the things you wanted to accomplish and evaluate how many on that list you actually accomplished? How many you didn’t and how many were due to procrastination? Can you re-focus your efforts now on the ones you didn’t get to that are still important to you?

There is something about being productive that feels good to humans, especially when you tackle things on your list you have been neglecting. You will feel good once you get them done. Emotions play a huge role in how and why humans do what they do. Research has pinpointed the tug of war that exists between logic and emotion – and emotion wins every time. Take for example, attempting to work on a task that is nudging at you to procrastinate on because it’s just not that interesting, it’s boring, or you find it challenging. You might find yourself being tempted to catch up on your favorite television series instead and when logic (the task) competes with emotion (your favorite series), you will drop the task in an instant and opt for the happy feelings watching your favorite show sparks in you.

Research has also found that the more positive you feel, the better you will perform at any endeavor. In addition, happy people are found to be more productive and successful overall. Understanding, or thinking logically about a task, or what you must get done is not enough, you have to feel the emotion behind it. Whether it’s finding purpose in what you do, thinking about how good you will feel to accomplish it or achieving your goal is what will spark the motivation to get it done. Emotion is necessary for motivation. Did you know that people in negative moods are more likely to procrastinate? So get emotional in a positive way and get moving!

Commit to yourself to overcome procrastinating behaviors and get the important things done in your life. Aim high and focus on your heart-felt desires that will be life changing for you, you deserve it!

  1. Avoid over-thinking the difficulty of the task. Figure out why you feel it’s difficult and develop a strategy on overcoming your resistance to the task. Often times, people procrastinate on tasks because they are unsure how to complete them. Ask for help or training.
  2. Focus on the end result. Think about how you will feel once the task is complete, or what you will gain by completing it. It might be as simple as “It’s finally done and off my plate now.”
  3. Focus on bite size pieces. If the task seems overwhelming, break it up into smaller chunks that are more manageable for you.
  4. Find an accountability partner. There is something very powerful about having an accountability partner to check in with when you are working on a project, working toward your goals, or any other task. They will help keep you on track and they can potentially be a good sounding board for you to ask questions and obtain feedback from.
  5. Eliminate distractions. If you get easily distracted by your cellular telephone, put it in another room. If you can’t focus due to receiving an influx of emails, log out of your email account for a specific period of time (30 minutes or 1 hour) so you can focus solely on your task, uninterrupted.
  6. Stop the need to be perfect. If you are a perfectionist, commit to getting the job complete and know that if you focus on every minute detail and change and re-change things, or feel that it’s never perfect enough, it will never get finished. There is always room for improvement in anything, focus on doing a good job because nothing is perfect anyway.
  7. Reward yourself. Once you get started, you will build momentum and before you know it, you will finish your task and that deserves a reward.

In order to make the best use of information that will allow you to make the best decision for you, it’s important to recognize some underlying fears that could be linked to being indecisive. Just as we discussed the unpleasant feelings that can surface with procrastinating, indecision can also elicit some unpleasant feelings and thoughts that render us immobile and unable to decide.

So how can you break down the indecision barrier? The first thing is to recognize your thoughts and emotions present when you are attempting to make a decision. There is often fear present that will try and convince you that you are not capable in handling certain situations or outcomes, or that you don’t have enough information to make an informed decision. Perhaps you are the type of person that becomes overwhelmed with all the choices involved before you even get to the decision-making. You may be the type of person that wants to do their due diligence and research any and all information before you make a decision. The reality is sometimes you can collect too much information and become inundated with data, which can negatively impact your ability to make the decision you needed to make to begin with.

Perhaps you are charting on unfamiliar territory and have to make a decision on something that you are unfamiliar with. Where do you begin? What information are you going to use to arrive at a decision? And how do you know what decision is the best one? There are so many factors involved in making a decision that you can find yourself resigning to the fact that you may be unable to have, do, or be what you want and you might feel forced to make some decision, whether it’s the one you want or not. Giving in to any fear can be paralyzing and you don’t want to be stuck. If you take too much time to make a decision and conclude that you just can’t make a decision, you will feel stuck. If you repeat this behavior, over-time you will begin to feel disempowered and powerless. The only way to combat those feelings is to decide!

Remember that even if you make a decision you are unsure about, you can always alter course and make changes. Most things can be reversed or altered. The best thing is to explore potential outcomes in order to plan for the unexpected.


  1. Set a timeline. Allow yourself a specified time (48 hours, 1 week, etc.) and make a decision with the information you have by the deadline.
  2. Identify your criteria. If you are purchasing a home, write down your must-haves and what is important in your new home. This will help you stay on track with your goals, needs and wants.
  3. Do your research. If you are exploring something new, gather enough data or advice from others who have knowledge about this so you can make an informed decision.
  4. Weigh out pros and cons. Explore possible outcomes, what you might gain or lose, or ow it might impact your life.
  5. Consider the difference between logic versus emotions. It is much easier to assess things from a logical perspective, however, when emotions come into play, logic tends to fly out the window. For example, if you are considering taking a higher paying job, but by taking the new job it will increase your commute and might require more time at the office. Logically, more money seems to be a great option. However, how might the increase drive time and extra hours at work impact your overall well-being (mood and energy)? What if you don’t like the people you work with as much as where you are currently? Will the extra pay be worth it in the end?
  6. Do a process of elimination. If you compiled a list and have too many choices, dwindle it down to 2 or 3 options to choose from.
  7. Get honest with yourself. Worst case scenario, is to sit back and ask yourself “What do I really want out of this? What am I trying to accomplish?” This will help you get honest about what you are trying to achieve based on what you want and what will work for you. Sometimes it can be easy to get lost in all the details and you might lose sight into what you really wanted to achieve.

Recognizing when and the potential reasons behind why you procrastinate can help to combat putting things off in your life, often indefinitely. Ask yourself “Am I procrastinating?” or “Am I being lazy?” Getting to the root cause can help to get moving. Applying some of the previously mentioned strategies can help you accomplish more in less time. See how much more you can get done by not talking yourself out of things.

Steel, P. (2012). The Procrastination Equation: How to stop putting things off and start getting stuff done.
Cherry, K. (2020). Tips for overcoming procrastination.


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