12 Tips to Overcome Procrastination


Five minutes and I’ll get to it. How about later? Well, I’ll do it tomorrow because now isn’t a good time. Or maybe in September — or in January, when I have more free time…

Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him!” Charles Dickens once wrote. We’ve all been enticed by it at some point, to avoid tasks that we find unappealing or challenging. For some, it becomes a chronic companion, haunting our work, studies and even our daily lives.

How can we nip procrastination in the bud before it takes hold of us? Let’s see:

Understanding Procrastination: What It Is and Its Causes 

Procrastination is all about putting off and delaying tasks or activities that need to be addressed, opting instead for less important or more enjoyable ones. It’s also marked by making future promises to ourselves as a way to convince us that we’ll eventually get things done, thus easing the guilt that comes from procrastinating.

What Causes Procrastination? 


Procrastination isn’t just about laziness; it goes deeper than that. It’s a behavior that’s driven by an underlying cause. In other words, procrastination isn’t the problem itself, but rather a symptom of something more profound. To solve it, we need to get to the root of the issue.

  • Fear. This is one of the most common causes underlying procrastination. If it’s an activity that holds great importance to you, it’s possible that you procrastinate because, deep down, you fear not achieving it, failing, or not living up to your expectations. Let’s take an example: postponing studying for a university exam in a subject that’s significant to you, either because you’re passionate about it or because you know it’s crucial for your future career. You put it off because you feel overwhelmed by the possibility of not succeeding.


  • Lack of Confidence. This stems from a lack of confidence in your internal resources and abilities, or even from low self-esteem. In this case, procrastination serves as a means to avoid confronting something that we believe we are not as proficient in as we would like to be. It becomes a way to shield ourselves from potential frustration or disappointment. It’s important to keep in mind an insight provided by psychology: the brain’s primary function is to ensure our survival.


  • Excess of Perfectionism.  Beneath procrastination, there may be an internal dialogue of self-criticism or high levels of self-imposed standards. Sometimes, you postpone tasks because you have excessively high —even unrealistic— expectations, and this self-imposed burden, instead of motivating you, ends up blocking you. For instance, if you’re just starting out in painting and set a goal to create a masterpiece for an exhibition, despite being relatively new to art, it becomes an overwhelmingly large goal. It would be better to focus on finishing that first painting for your own satisfaction and gradually make progress along the way.
Persona delante del ordenador.
  • Boredom and Monotony. If the task you have to do is demotivating because it’s related to something you dislike or find tedious, procrastination is a way to defend yourself from engaging in something you genuinely don’t feel like doing. At other times, it’s the monotonous nature of work or academic tasks that takes its toll: the days become indistinguishable, lacking any exciting challenges or goals that would keep you motivated and, as a result, your interest gradually diminishes.


  • Impatience. Procrastination can also occur when you grow impatient because you’re not seeing the desired results as quickly as you would like. This frustration can then lead to postponing the task at hand.


  • Stress or Anxiety. Both factors can have an effect on your ability to concentrate and make your mind more prone to wandering. If you’re going through a challenging personal situation or experiencing high levels of stress because you have to juggle multiple responsibilities, your mind may feel overwhelmed, which can lead to procrastination.
Mano pintada de verde sosteniendo un tallo de una planta.

Global Master in Sustainability and CSR

Designed to equip students specialize in the management of sustainable companies. You will gain knowledge of CSR and sustainability, as well as an executive culture that you can apply across the board.

Request info

A Few Tips to Overcome Procrastination

There are some effective strategies that can help you pinpoint when and why you’re procrastinating, and ultimately alleviate its impact and decrease its frequency.


1. Identify the root cause. In order to find a solution, you first need to pinpoint the problem. So, the first step is to engage in introspection and ask yourself what could be the reasons behind your procrastination, taking into account some of the common causes. Reflect on your patterns and ask yourself questions: Do you notice any specific type of task that you tend to procrastinate on? Is there a particular time of day when you find yourself more prone to postponing tasks? What emotions do you experience with certain activities? Do they make you feel discomfort or anxiety? Are you overly perfectionistic or demanding with some of them? Additionally, pay attention to your thoughts and internal dialogue. It’s possible that you’re procrastinating certain tasks because negative thoughts arise, such as “you’re not good at this,” “you’ll never succeed,” or “if it’s not perfect, don’t do it at all.” Take note of your thoughts, what you tell yourself, and how you communicate with yourself.

2. Take small steps. If you’re facing significant resistance towards a specific task, start with something manageable to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Instead of aiming to complete it, why not try taking the first step and committing to work on that task for just half an hour? Focus on setting sustainable goals and consistently taking subtle actions. Sometimes, when a task seems too big due to its complexity, time requirements, or the number of components involved, it can be daunting. In such cases, a helpful approach is to break down the task into smaller, easily achievable sub-tasks that don’t overwhelm your mind. Have you heard of the Scrum method? It can be a valuable tool for organizing your work.

3. Get rid of distractions. Take a moment to identify any objects or situations that tend to easily distract you — such as social media, television, certain sounds or conversations. Then, make an effort to protect yourself from these distractions while you’re working on your tasks.

4. Positive reinforcements. Whenever you make progress on the task you’ve been procrastinating on or even successfully complete it, treat yourself to something you enjoy and find satisfying. This way, you’ll start creating positive mental associations and training your brain for future occasions.

Reloj de pared.

5. Specific and achievable goals. This is very important because sometimes we tend to set unrealistic goals by trying to do too much. We can’t expect to go to the gym every day, read three books a month, learn two languages, all while working full-time and taking care of our home and family.

6. Get ready before taking action. Make it easier for yourself in the preparation phase before diving in. You can do this by organizing your workspace or the area in which you’ll be working on the task. Gather the tools or resources you’ll need ahead of time and create an initial outline to guide you.

7. Make tasks enjoyable. If it’s an activity that you don’t like, feel lazy to do, or find challenging, surround yourself with elements that you enjoy so that it’s not all negative. You can incorporate music, scented candles, or take breaks in between to breathe and pause.

8. Establish rituals. Creating routines can help you mentally prepare to take action. For instance, if you’re planning to start running as a new habit, it’s a great idea to set aside your workout clothes the night before. This way, your mind will already be primed, making it easier for you to take that step when the time comes to act.

Coche karts cruzando la meta.

9. Create to-do lists. Write down all the tasks you need to get done, starting from the small and simple ones to the larger or more complex ones. As you finish each task, check it off the list. This way, your brain will see the progress you’re making and your motivation will be more easily maintained for the remaining tasks.

10. Manage your time effectively. Organize your tasks with specific time limits and incorporate breaks in between to prevent physical and mental exhaustion. One popular technique is the “Pomodoro Technique”: you dedicate 25 minutes to a task and take a 5-minute break before continuing.

11. Make decisions. If you’re not making progress on a task because there’s a decision that you’re unsure about, make it easier for yourself by simplifying the decision-making process. Here are a few ideas to consider: use strategic tactics, such as elimination or discarding the least appropriate options. Alternatively, if you find it difficult to choose, you can leave it up to chance: flip a coin and let life —and the coin toss— decide for you!

12. Create a practical plan. Be specific and decide on the day, place, amount of time you’ll allocate, and the exact time when you’ll do it. Be as detailed as possible so that the task is visually organized and clear in your mind. Then, write it down on paper, in your planner, or on your calendar.

Contenido Relacionado