How to finally stop procrastinating

Changing your mentality can keep you from procrastinating — here's how.

Are you familiar with procrastination?

Dr. Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield reveals, “I think what happens with people who procrastinate is that they convinced themselves that there is good reason to delay: ‘Oh, well, you know, I'm just not in a good mood right now to write this report,’ or ‘I'm a bit too tired.’ You know, ‘I had a late-night last night out, so, you know, I'll be in a better state of mind to finish this tomorrow or next week.’” Procrastination is an unnecessary and voluntary delay of an intended task. Dr. Sirois continues, “Someone who's a procrastinator is not lazy. They have impeccable homes and they alphabetized their spice racks and their MP3 collection and everything's all perfect and nice. But they spend a lot of time doing things. But they're not doing the thing they should be doing.” In her research, Sirois found that procrastination can affect one's health. “One of the things that we know is that people who procrastinate tend to experience higher levels of stress… So there's a lot of stress associated with procrastinating because you're not meeting your deadlines or you're working on things the night before. Right. And rushing them off. And that's a very stressful. And people feel stressed about their own procrastination,” she shares with Brut.

What causes procrastination

She identified 3 factors that can facilitate procrastination: anxiousness, impulsiveness, and perfectionism. “If you're prone to worry and anxiousness, then you might take something that small and negative about the task and build it up into something that's really negative. And that may be enough to make you just sort of put that aside… But if you combine that with impulsiveness, you kind of look over there and go, "Oh, that looks pleasant, that don't make me feel better. If I do that, I'm going to go binge watch, you know, the ritual or something like that. Right. I'm just I'm going to go and do something that's going to make me feel pleasant. So I don't have to feel these feelings… The other factor, though, that's really key that comes up is perfectionism. They're perfectionists who do things, who are trying to meet the standards of other people or society so they get paralyzed by those thoughts and they pull it off because they think that they can't do it perfectly enough for other people,” Dr. Sirois admits.

Tips to avoid procrastination

But there are tips to avoid procrastination… First of all, don’t be hard on yourself. Secondly, imagine your future self, and lastly, push the negative feelings down.

“If you're procrastinating because you feel bad about a task and then you get hard on yourself, which makes you feel worse, all that's going to do is make you procrastinate more. The research has shown that people who forgive themselves for the procrastination or who are self-compassionate towards themselves when they do struggle with procrastination, those are the people that tend to procrastinate less in subsequent tasks… What some of the research suggests too is that not only do procrastinators have difficulty envisioning their future selves, but if you can get people who are prone to procrastination to stop and think about that future self in a more concrete way, it can actually reduce the procrastination… If you've got these negative feelings about the task, one thing you can do is try and find something positive about the task. So try and find something meaningful. Focusing on what you can gain, not what you might lose from doing the task. So what will you learn from the task? That can be make the task more meaningful and when it's more meaningful we tend to be more motivated. Even if you have those negative feelings, you just push yourself to just sit down and start, because often what happens is those tasks that we think that are really onerous and really scary and they bring up a lot of negative feelings. Once we get going with them, they're not actually as bad as what we think,” she concludes.