Stop Procrastinating

If you're a chronic procrastinator, you know the pain and stress that comes with putting things off. Although you may have the desire to accomplish something, getting the motivation to do it is a different matter. Fortunately, overcoming your procrastination is easy to do when you put your mind to it. Side note: If you have anything due right now, and you haven't finished it, leave this article and complete that work.


  1. Create a to-do list. Yes, make yourself an old fashioned to-do list with check boxes and everything. List everything, big and small, that you have to do for your entire day; break big activities into smaller bits if necessary. Then, as you work through your day, check off each of the items on your list. You will feel a growing sense of pride as you visually monitor your ever-diminishing list of projects.
    • Focus your list on including the things you typically put off, not the things you are sure to do on a regular basis.
    • If necessary, set time-frames for your items to be done by. For example, list “take the dog for a walk by 12:30” rather than simply “walk the dog.”
    • Re-evaluate your list halfway through your day to rank your items based on highest priority. Then, tackle the most important ones before looking back at the smaller things to do.
    • Keep a notebook by hand before you start your workday. Write every thought down that comes up during work. Every single to do or things you want to do at that specific moment. Don't do it, put it on a list and do it later. This prevents you from getting into the "procrastination zone."
  2. Finish the hard stuff. When you have a looming project that's bogging you down and making you unproductive in other areas, tackle it first. Finishing the largest item on your list of things to do will make you feel extra productive and give you the boost to do other things you’ve been pushing to the side.
    • If your “big project” is something that can’t be done in one sitting, make a list of small parts of it that you can accomplish today. Don’t worry about completing the entire thing, but take steps now so that doing so in the future is a breeze.
    • Make an ultimate to-do list for this single project, and have it placed somewhere you will see it on a regular basis. As you mark things off, you will be motivated to continue doing so, and seeing it on a regular basis will remind you that your project needs to be done.
  3. Do two-minute tasks. Whenever you are presented with something that you don’t want to do or would consider putting off, ask yourself, “will this take me less than two minutes to finish?” For many of us, this includes small chores, like taking out the trash or pulling a few weeds, but can include simple tasks in all areas of life. Anything that you want to put off but takes two minutes to do - do it. Simply force yourself to use the next 120 seconds to be productive and do the duty you normally would push off for hours or days.[1].
  4. Create a timed work frenzy. If you find yourself being pulled off into the depths of daydreams, set a period of time to do nothing but work. Take ten minutes and remove all distractions - your phone, magazines, or thoughts of your attractive love - and go into a working frenzy. Force yourself to work productively for ten minutes, and then go back to whatever it was you were doing. Chances are, you’ll get into a groove and keep working at a high pace even when your frenzy time is out. Working with a timer is generally regarded by most experts as being one of the best ways to develop self-discipline and stop procrastination. The most famous method of working to strict time controls (known as time-boxing) involves creating a list of tasks. Each task is then assigned an exact amount of time to complete. If you don't finish the task in the allotted time, then you move on to the next one. Using this work arrangement, it forces you to take action, as you can't afford to waste any time. [2].
  5. Give yourself a break. If you can’t seem to focus and are working half-heartedly at your tasks, give yourself a brief break. Set a timer for ten minutes, and take a nap, read a book, or call your friend. Do whatever it is you’ve been daydreaming about so that the temptation is removed once you get back to work. Just be sure to follow through with your deadline rather than ignoring it when your alarm finally goes off.
  6. Remove your distractions. Although it may seem like calling your mom or finishing up the next chapter in your book are things you must accomplish in the near future, they’re probably just distracting you from getting your work done. Put on some noise-cancelling headphones, turn off your phone, and hide your temptations (books, your guitar, cleaning, whatever it may be).
    • If you have a problem with internet surfing while you’re working on your computer, try using a specialized computer app that limits your internet use. There are a range of available apps that block off certain (or all) websites for a particular amount of time that you set, and can only be voided if your computer is turned off.
    • If your problem is focusing on writing a big essay or work report, try using a writing program. You can search online to find many word-processing programs that completely blocks out your screen (including the taskbar at the bottom) and plays soft instrumental music or white noise to help you concentrate. You can download the most basic version for free online.
  7. Don’t be a perfectionist. If you’re waiting for the perfect time, the perfect supplies, or you won’t stop until you’ve “perfected” your project, you’re putting off completing your task. Avoid this “perfect” thinking by considering quantity over quality. If your project doesn’t require perfection but you’re still focused on it, stop and move on to your next task. When you’ve finished everything, you can backtrack and finish perfecting your original task.
  8. Motivate yourself. Many people claim the reason they procrastinate is because they work best under pressure. So what do you do if your projects don’t have any deadlines? Make your own. Set a time that you must complete your project by, and either reward yourself at the end of that time, or set up a punishment for yourself if you aren’t successful in your endeavor.
    • Positive reinforcement is the most effective means of motivating yourself. Give yourself a treat to look forward to as a reward for buckling down on your to-do list; go see a movie, eat a chocolate bar, go out with a friend, whatever it is that will motivate you.
    • Try using negative reinforcement - taking away something bad - as a motivator. For example, promise yourself that if you finish your essay by Friday night, you won’t have to run your errands, do your chores, or whatever it is that you don’t want to do.
    • If reinforcement isn’t working for you, use punishment as a motivator. Use negative punishment - taking away something good - to try to work harder. Don’t let yourself take that nap, eat your dinner, or finish your favorite book until your tasks have been done.
    • For the most severe examples of procrastination, put your money on the line. Give someone you trust a certain amount of money, $50 for example, and tell them to spend it on themselves if you don’t finish your project by a certain time. This way, you have to work in order to keep your hard-earned money in your own pocket.[3]
  9. Get an accomplice. If you can’t seem to work on your own, find a friend or family member to help you work. You could even make a pact with a friend with the same goals to, for example, exercise everyday, so that you feel pressured not to let them down. Have them encourage you to stay on task and help you when you need it. Telling someone about what you need to do will motivate you to finish your project, because if you don’t you will have to suffer the embarrassment of admitting it to them.[4]
    • Set up a few hours of time where you go around and accomplish all your projects with a friend. This way, you will have someone with you while you work to keep you focused and on track.
    • Schedule “check-ins” with your friend where they call to see where you’re at. These can be deadlines for certain tasks, at which point you will either be praised or chastised by your friend based on your progress report.[5]
  10. Focus on the end goal. It’s easy to see only the giant list of things to do, rather than the anxiety-free feeling of accomplishment at having finished them. As you work, focus on all the free time, relaxation, money, whatever it may be that you get when you finish. This will help you to stay on task and work towards your goal.
  11. Do one task at a time. Although it seems like multitasking is doing more work in a small amount of time but multi-taskers are often inefficient and do much less work. So practice doing one thing at a time and don't overwhelm your self with tasks. Suppose we have a list of things to do. It's so much better to finish the task at hand rather than jumping to another task without completing the first one. Yes, it's true that there are many distractions which are strong enough to throw us off the track. This is because of the process called "temporal discounting" which says we are [6]more likely to go for a reward which is more imminent than for one which is far in the future. Small rewards like TV, facebook, etc. provide us a small imminent reward.


  • Remember, searching about how to stop procrastinating, when you have stuff to do, is also procrastinating. You've read this article, now take the tips and advice and get started.
  • When you are working or studying behind a computer, do your most important task first. Don't begin your day by reading a web page or surfing the internet. Tackle your most important thing first!
  • For encouragement, make a list of all the things that will make your life better if you stop procrastinating.
  • Make a priority list. At school, if you have multiple assignments and two are due the next day, do those first. If you finish, move on to the next assignments chronologically in order of when they are due.
  • As many would suggest, getting off the internet is a good idea. Disconnecting helps you limit temptation.
  • Think of the consequences if you don't complete your projects.
  • Avoid your phone. Do not go on your phone to text, call, etc.
  • Use the "eat that frog" method. This is a system to start your day and begin with your most important task immediately, before you're doing anything else.
  • If you have a lot of homework to do when you come home from school, complete those first before getting on your phone, game system, social networks, etc.
  • Keep track of your project completion over time, so that you can look back and see all the work you've managed to finish. You will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish when you simply put your mind to it!
  • If you find yourself going off task take five minutes to relax and then start back on what you are doing.
  • Store away things that could cause a distraction (phone, book, ect..). One you are done your task, reward yourself by the ability of using these objects again.
  • Avoid saying "yes." Don't start taking on too many tasks at once. Be sure you really have the time. Don't work on a project if you're tired, in a distracting location, or not thinking ahead.
  • Keep a time log, this is a perfect method to see what you are doing when you are not doing the task you actually should be doing.
  • Wear a ticking watch, so it reminds you of time passing by or use an App to regulate work time.


  • See a specialist if your procrastination is interfering with a productive, healthy life.

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