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5 Steps to Eliminate Chronic Procrastination

In 2020 I made one New Year's resolution - and no it was not about my health - it was to stop procrastinating, or to "Take action". 

As a rising sophomore in high school, I may not have as much to do as an adult, but the responsibilities are mounting! More schoolwork, extracurricular activities, sports, getting ready for my future, all while trying to maintain good relationships, happiness, and health. 

Towards the end of 2019, I was a freshman which was around the same time TikTok became popular, and - need I say more? I was often sleep deprived because I wasted all my after school hours on my phone and then finally started working on homework late at night. It was procrastination at its finest. I knew logically what I should do, but I couldn’t figure out how to motivate myself to do it. 

Before January 2020 I decided that I was tired of living like this. I had procrastinated for months - at it didn't feel good. 

Let me walk you through the 5 steps I took to overcome procrastination and over time, develop the habit of taking action as soon as possible. 

To preface, if you procrastinate often, it’s unlikely that you’re going to magically be productive all the time. Consistency is key, and if you take it day by day you can surely make it a habit that will become easier to do. 

Step 1: Forgive yourself for past chronic procrastination. 

Yes, that’s right, forgive yourself. There’s absolutely no need for you to resent yourself or stress about the past. You can’t change the past, but you can always take steps in the present. And clearly, you’re already doing that, just by reading this article! 

Step 2: Chuck the distractions! 

Lock away your phone, Netflix, social media (for me it was TikTok!), or whatever else might be distracting you. For a lot of people, these two steps might be enough for you to go and do the task. However, if trying this doesn’t work, you might have to move on to the following steps. 

Step 3: What emotion does this task bring up in you? 

Pull out a notebook and identify why you are procrastinating. What emotion does this task bring up in you? And no - you’re not just lazy, there is almost always another emotion driving your inaction. 

Studies have shown that it’s not bad time management skills that cause procrastination, but rather, negative feelings (as shown in the examples below). 

Step 4: Identify a solution that will relieve this negative emotion.

Nothing complex, just something to temporarily relieve this negative emotion while you work on the task. This is usually some form of reassurance, to quiet your mind. In other cases, you might realize the task isn’t enjoyable or doesn’t align with your goals, and you can drop it off of your schedule altogether. 

A quick analysis of my notebook shows that a majority of my reasons for procrastinating were from the fear I would fail at the task. However, I learned that procrastinating never actually solved the problem or took away my fear. Conversely, when I jumped head-on into a task, I was more likely to overcome the fear. 

Unfortunately, oftentimes I would start the task so late, that I would end up creating work with mediocre quality. Even after the first hard realization of this, I had to repeat this process for a good two months before I was able to override my emotions quickly. Like they say, old habits die hard! 

Examples of steps 3 and 4:

Why am I procrastinating writing my literacy essay?

I’m scared I’m going to write it badly and get a bad grade. I honestly don’t think I’m good enough at writing to do well on the assignment. 

Procrastination Solution: Just start! It sounds paradoxical, but reassure yourself that you are good enough at writing. Not only that but the sooner you write something, to the best of your ability, you can get feedback from a peer or teacher.

Why am I procrastinating studying for the ACT?

It’s hard and makes me feel frustrated. 

Procrastination Solution: Again - just start. To start procrastinating and start studying you need to remind yourself of why you want a good score on the ACT. Are you aiming for a top tier college? An ivy possibly? Even the smallest most boring things probably have a place in your goals! 

Why am I procrastinating working out today?

I feel sore and tired. 

Procrastination Solution: Okay, take a rest day today. This doesn’t necessarily mean your procrastinating. If your body needs a rest from working out for a day or two - give it that rest, guilt-free. Recover for a while, and you’ll be ready and energized to SMASH your next workout!

Why am I procrastinating doing work for this club?

It’s boring and I don't enjoy this club anymore nor does it align with my future job. 

Procrastination Solution: Okay, switch it up, drop this club, and join a different one. Sometimes, we procrastinate things because they don’t align with what we enjoy or want to do. Ultimately, if you don’t have a clear why that drives the things you do, you’re not living your life to the fullest. There’s no point in doing something for the sake of just doing it. 


    By now, you’ve either determined the task isn’t aligned with you or you’ve already figured out how to override your negative emotions around the task. All you have to do now, is go and do it! You are full of untapped potential, and are capable of reaching all your goals and dreams! No, but seriously, get off this blog post and take some action!

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How to Stop Chronic Procrastination


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