Alright, listen up, you procrastinators!

  • Are you the type to push tasks to the very last minute?
  • Do you constantly put off tasks until the last minute, only to feel overwhelmed and stressed when you finally get around to them?
  • Do you sabotage yourself by engaging in behaviors that prevent you from achieving your goals?

If you're nodding along, don't worry - you're not alone. Studies show that around 20% of adults procrastinate chronically. I even found a website dedicated to Solving Procrastination.

Many of us struggle with procrastination and self-sabotage, but the good news is that there are ways to overcome these hindrances and become more productive and successful.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

First things first, let's talk about why we procrastinate. We put things off for many reasons, from fear of failure to simply not wanting to do the task. Identifying the root cause of your procrastination is essential to address it effectively.


One common reason for procrastination is perfectionism. Perfectionism is a trait that can either be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you manage it. On the one hand, striving for excellence can push us to achieve great things. On the other hand, perfectionism can hold us back and lead to an unhealthy level of stress and self-doubt. Sure, alphabetizing your spice rack or color-coding your bookshelf is not hurting anyone, and you likely feel better in the end. More seriously, perfectionism can lead to burnout or even anxiety and depression. It can cause people to revise and refine their work endlessly or to avoid taking risks or trying new things out of fear of failure.

Lack Of Motivation

One more reason we put things off is a lack of motivation. To tackle this, it's essential to find a reason to care. Ask yourself what's at stake, what good can come from it, and how it contributes to your goals. And if all else fails, break the task into smaller, more achievable chunks. Sometimes, building steam and getting you going takes a small victory.

For instance, you might not feel like working on your tax returns, but imagining a future where the IRS comes after you with pitchforks might be motivating enough to get you started. A more serious example could be a student feeling unmotivated to study for a class that they find boring. In this case, breaking the material down into smaller, more manageable chunks, or trying to find ways to make the content more engaging, could help them get back on track.

Fear Of Failure

Another typical reason why we procrastinate is the fear of failure. This feeling can manifest as doubts about our capabilities or worries about being judged by others. Feeling paralyzed by fear is normal, but it's vital to remember that making mistakes is a natural part of learning. We can't grow or improve without failing first. So, instead of fixating on the outcome, focus on the learning experience.

For example, imagine you're trying to learn how to cook a fancy meal. If you're afraid of failure, you might need to create a perfect dish on your first attempt. But if you shift your mindset to focus on the process, you can enjoy experimenting with different ingredients and techniques and learn from any mistakes you make.

Let's review.

The top three reasons for procrastination:

  1. Perfectionism
  2. Lack of motivation
  3. Fear of failure

Have I hit a nerve yet? Cool. Now let's talk about how to overcome it.

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How Do I Stop Procrastinating?  

Here are some tips for beating procrastination and self-sabotage:

Setting realistic goals is key - setting achievable targets that align with your values and priorities is essential. Be specific about what you want to achieve, and don't be afraid to break down larger goals into more manageable steps. For example, if you're hoping to start a new exercise routine, rather than setting an overly ambitious goal like running a marathon next month, start with something smaller, like walking for 30 minutes daily. By setting realistic, achievable targets, you can build your confidence and momentum and work towards bigger goals over time.

Planning is key - once you've set your goals, it's time to figure out how to achieve them. This could involve scheduling specific blocks of time for working on tasks, creating detailed to-do lists, or breaking down larger projects into more manageable parts. This is how I could write a book, have a baby, launch a high-quality newsletter, and begin my second Master's program in a year. Create a plan that involves writing for an hour daily, breaking the book into chapters, and setting targets for completing each. Creating a clear plan can minimize distractions and help you stay focused on your goals, helping you achieve more in less time.

Focus on one task at a time - Getting caught up in multitasking is easy, but it can often be more productive. Try to eliminate distractions and give each task your full attention. For instance, if you're working on a big project for work, instead of switching between emails, meetings, and social media, set aside specific blocks of time to focus solely on that project. By doing this, you'll dive deeper into the task at hand and produce higher-quality work, which can help you achieve your goals more efficiently.

Use positive self-talk - How we talk to ourselves can greatly impact our mood and actions. So, we must use positive self-talk and remind ourselves of our abilities and strengths. For instance, if you're feeling nervous about giving a presentation, instead of telling yourself, "I'm going to mess this up," try repeating positive affirmations like "I am prepared and confident" or "I have the skills to succeed." By focusing on positive self-talk, you can boost your mood and feel more empowered to tackle whatever challenges come your way.

Take responsibility for your actions - Look for ways to take responsibility for your actions. You could set specific deadlines, monitor your progress, or team up with an accountability buddy to stay on track.

Celebrate your successes - Don't forget to celebrate your victories, no matter how small they may seem. Acknowledging your successes can help build momentum and motivate you to continue working towards your goals. For example, if you completed a difficult task at work, take a moment to celebrate by treating yourself to a favorite snack or taking a short break to enjoy a hobby you love. By taking the time to recognize your achievements, you can boost your self-esteem and keep yourself energized and focused on the path to success.

That's not enough? You don't want to do that project, do you? It's why you're still reading and not ready to focus on what matters most. That's okay. I'm here to help.

No, I'm scared and insecure. Could you leave me alone? 

Bonus tools for the ultimate procrastinator.

Use the 5-minute rule - The 5-minute rule could be a game-changer for you. The rule is simple: commit to working on the task for 5 minutes. Once you've started, you'll often find you can keep going for longer than 5 minutes. For example, if you've been avoiding doing the dishes, commit to washing just a few plates and utensils for 5 minutes. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish in that short time, and before you know it, you'll have completed the task you've been dreading.

Eliminate distractions - We all know how tempting it can be to check our phones and social media or indulge in other distractions when we're supposed to be working on something. However, these distractions can significantly impact our productivity levels. To avoid distractions, consider turning off notifications on your phone or closing social media tabs on your computer. You could also try working in a quiet space or using noise-canceling headphones to minimize external noise. By removing distractions, you can create a more focused and productive environment.

Get an accountability partner - Sometimes, it can be tough to stay on track when you're all working on a goal. That's where having an accountability partner can come in handy. This could be a friend, family member, or colleague working towards a similar goal. I accomplish this through a weekly Mastermind Meeting, which you can learn more about here.

Use a timer - When working on a task, it's easy to get sidetracked or lose track of time. That's where a timer can come in handy. Setting a timer for a specific time can create a sense of urgency and help you stay focused on the task. This could involve using a physical timer, an app on your phone, or even the timer on your microwave or oven. Choose a time period that works for you - it could be 10 minutes, 25 minutes (the Pomodoro technique), or whatever amount of time feels manageable. Once the timer starts, commit to working on the task for the entire duration.

Practice mindfulness - To overcome procrastination and self-sabotage, mindfulness can be helpful. Being mindful involves being present at the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings. Try practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or simply pausing and being present. This can help you build focus, manage stress, and stay motivated to tackle your tasks.

Let's Wrap This Up

Overcoming procrastination and self-sabotage is possible with the right mindset and strategies. It's time to take control of your productivity and achieve your goals. You can overcome procrastination and self-sabotage by setting realistic goals, creating a plan, and staying committed to the process. Don't let fear and self-doubt hold you back any longer. So, what are you waiting for? It's time to stop being your own worst enemy and start achieving your goals today!

Let others know in the comments what has worked for you and what has not worked for you.

From Procrastinator to Productive: How to Finally Overcome Self-Sabotage