How to Overcome Procrastination

Have you ever put off a chore or task just because you weren’t in the mood for it? You’re definitely not alone, and this is normal for many people. However, procrastination causes problems when it becomes chronic.

Approximately 20% of American adults are chronic procrastinators, which can lead to poor heart health, financial difficulties, and relationship problems.

If you have problems with procrastinating, there are steps you can take to overcome procrastination. Although it can feel overwhelming at first, you just need to understand more about procrastination and what you can do to navigate through it.

Keep reading this guide to learn how to overcome procrastination and improve your everyday life.


First, it’s essential to understand better what procrastination is all about. Understanding procrastination and why you do it will help you start to overcome this behavior.

Procrastination is all about putting off or delaying tasks until the absolute last minute. Despite the negative consequences, many people even delay tasks past their deadline and need extensions.

Even people who are organized and committed to eventually finishing tasks can have trouble with procrastinating. Most people procrastinate on tasks that they see as undesirable, like homework assignments and household chores.

You may see procrastination classified into two types:

Active Procrastination

With active procrastination, you delay tasks purposefully. This is because working under pressure makes you feel motivated and challenged to do the job.

Passive Procrastination

With passive procrastination, you delay tasks because you have trouble making decisions. As a result, you feel stressed out and delay the decision-making process until later.


One of the most significant factors in procrastination is motivation. Let’s say you have a major project to work on, but you have a week to complete it. If this project is not something you’re looking forward to, you might put it off until later when the time is right. Unfortunately, the time is never really right, and this pattern repeats.

Present Bias

Another cause of procrastination is present bias. Present bias means that people tend to be motivated by immediate rewards or gratification rather than long-term rewards. Studies show that present bias is a factor in project deadline-setting behavior.

Mental Health Problems

Sometimes mental health plays a role in procrastination. If you have depression, you can feel a lack of energy and hopelessness, making starting even simple tasks overwhelming.

Depression also leads you to doubt your own abilities. As a result, projects are easier to put off because you’re not sure how to tackle them. Anxiety can also cause procrastination since specific responsibilities can make you anxious.

Procrastination is also common in people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is due to OCD connecting with perfectionism. If you have OCD, you’re worried about making mistakes.

People with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may also struggle with procrastination due to feeling distracted by other stimuli.


The key is to look for symptoms of chronic procrastination in your daily behaviors. Signs of procrastinating to look for include:

  • Difficulty meeting deadlines
  • Putting things off in multiple areas
  • Easily distracted
  • Find yourself procrastinating daily
  • Impacts relationships with loved ones
  • Filling your time with minor tasks
  • Feeling stressed about everything you still need to do

Once procrastination creeps into your daily life, it becomes a problem. You’ll begin to feel chronically stressed, which can impact your overall health.


Although it may seem difficult, there are strategies you can implement that will help you overcome procrastination over time. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and remember forming new behaviors and habits takes time.

Address Mental Health Concerns

One of the first things to do is address any mental health concerns. Remember, procrastination can be a symptom of depression. If you’ve struggled with depression, it’s best to look at getting depression therapy.

Depression therapy will help you identify negative behaviors and beliefs. Once you do this, you can work toward replacing them with positive behaviors. You’ll also find better ways to solve problems and cope with stress.

Anxiety therapy can help you work through your feelings if you struggle with anxiety. Therapy can help reduce nervousness and restlessness, allowing you to focus on your tasks.

Seeing a therapist can give you the guidance and support you need. You’ll get a realistic plan and support in addressing your procrastination.

Be Patient With Yourself and Take Things Slow

One of the best things you can do to manage procrastination is be patient with yourself. Taking things slowly is vital. Instead of overloading yourself, focus on one step at a time.

For example, if you have to complete a work project, focus on creating an outline and stop there. Don’t worry about anything past the outline until you’ve finished it. 

To do this, you must be mindful of your thoughts and willing to take small breaks throughout the entire task.

If you have a difficult day, understand these things happen; tomorrow is a new day.

Eliminate Distractions

Take a look at what things distract you the most. This could be Facebook, Instagram, or simply playing on your cellphone. Consider silencing your notifications and updates for a period of time.

Create a quiet space you feel comfortable in, and start your tasks for the day.

Reward Yourself

While you need to eliminate distractions, you also must reward your efforts. Creating a system of rewards after you get a chunk of work done is very helpful. After a task, take a break and watch a video. You could also text a friend or take a short walk.

Rewarding instead of punishing yourself is good positive reinforcement. For example, you might tell yourself if I don’t get this done, I can’t watch my favorite show tonight.

This only makes you feel worse about your efforts if you don’t finish your tasks. Instead, set small rewards after small blocks of work, and you’ll start to feel better.

Form a Daily Routine and Make Lists

The best way to form a daily routine is to list tasks you need to complete for the day. Be sure to write down the completion dates so you can prioritize them. As you complete each task, reward yourself.

It’s best to start with the most unpleasant tasks first thing in the morning. Once you’re done, you can work on easier tasks.

If you have a big work or school project, work on it daily for 5 to 10 minutes. By working on small amounts daily, you’ll feel more positive and accomplished.

Keeping a daily journal and tracking your feelings is also a good idea. Keep track of when you feel like procrastinating, and work with yourself by breaking your tasks down even further.


Learning to overcome procrastination takes time and patience, but you can achieve your goals with the proper support.

Contact me today to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment.

About Michael Hilgers, M.MFT

I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor working remotely with clients around the world. I believe that everyone has the potential to change; to create new paths, to go in new directions. Life is hard. Counseling can help.

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