Procrastination is the tendency to put things off. We do that for many different reasons: waiting for the moment when you feel motivated to get started on things; fear of failure because of high expectations; feeling controlled by others; or even lack of assertiveness and lack of interest.

Are there any other reasons that you procrastinate?

Whatever the reason, the effect of procrastination is the same. When you are stressed out and delay something important you may avoid stress in the short term; however, you more likely to be additionally stressed when the problems pile up and multiply in the long term. This builds up a vicious cycle as you begin to swing between stress and procrastination.


To overcome procrastination:


1.       Action and motivation: 

Sometimes, we put things off because we are waiting to feel motivated before we start. But if we wait to feel motivated, we will never begin. Thus, if we can find ways to force ourselves into action we start to feel better and more motivated, which allows us to take the action further.

2.       Weighing up the + and - :

Take a moment to consider something you are procrastinating about and write down the + and – of procrastination. Here’s an example:

What am I procrastinating about
e.g. Tidying my bedroom
+ of procrastinating - of procrastinating
  1. Get to do more interesting stuff now
  2. Hassle to do immediately
  3. Waste of time – it will be messy again in a week
  4. It’s messy but I know where everything is
  1. Constantly on my mind – stressed
  2. Struggle to walk around the room
  3. Putting it off makes things worse, my bedroom will get messier
  4. Would feel happy when it’s done
  5. Get Mum off my back

Looking back, we can see that the + of tidying up one’s bedroom outweighed the -.

Now have a go!

What am I procrastinating about
e.g. Tidying my bedroom
+ of procrastinating - of procrastinating

Did the + outweigh the – of getting something done instead of putting it off?

Now that we’ve weighed the + and -, we can set up an action plan.


3.       Breaking the task down: 

We often procrastinate because the task seems too big and the end goal seems impossible. One way to overcome this is to break the task down into bite-size chunks that are small and easy to do. Focusing on what you can achieve and being realistic about the timeframe can reduce stress. For example, we can break the task of tidying up the bedroom to smaller, manageable steps:

A.      Collect litter into black bags

B.      Take all the cups and plates downstairs and stack in the dishwasher

C.      Put all laundry in the basket

D.      Put the CDs and DVDs into their boxes

E.       Put the books back onto the shelves

F.       Vacuum the floor

G.     Clean the desk

H.      Change the bedsheets