How to Stop Procrastinating: 4 Common Reasons and Resolutions

Are you one of the millions of people who need to learn how to stop procrastinating? Do you ever put off a task only to find yourself in a mess of panic and anxiety as you scramble to finish it before the due date?

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I do this?”

It’s because it’s a habit. Go on, admit it and say it aloud, you are a procrastinator.

If it’s any comfort, you’re not the only one. Just about everyone procrastinates. Sometimes that’s good, but mostly it’s an insidious, chronic malaise that will cripple your future.

So why do you continue to procrastinate, despite knowing that the end result will only produce turmoil and subpar work?

There are 4 good reasons why you may be choosing to procrastinate right now, but with a little help you can overcome this nasty habit and take decisive action toward achieving your hopes and dreams.

Here are 4 reasons why you may be wasting time and how to stop procrastinating:

1. You procrastinate because you’re bored

It’s a fact of life. We all feel less than enthusiastic from time to time. Sometimes our work becomes routine and we end up just going through the motions.

But how do you combat this?

First, recognize that you’re bored. Be conscious of your feelings, your falling energy levels, and your lack of desire to finish your projects. Ask yourself a few questions and be totally honest with your answers. Am I bored with what I’m doing? Why am I bored? What would give me a lot more energy?

Successful people maintain their excitement by constantly going after new projects and bigger opportunities. They thrive on taking new risks and the possibility that they might hit a massive home run. And the uncertainty makes it even more appealing!

Keep raising your level of expectation and never become satisfied with routine business that requires no challenge or ingenuity.

2. You procrastinate because you’re overwhelmed 

Often people procrastinate because they let things pile up, instead of handling one task at a time and taking each task to completion.

This may start with one little thing that doesn’t get done because the time wasn’t right, or you just didn’t feel like doing it. Then something else comes along, and you postpone that, too. Now you have two things to do.

Individually, neither one seems too big to accomplish, but together they create resistance. And after a while, a growing list of a half dozen items has been put off and procrastination has reared its ugly head.

If you’re not careful, this can begin controlling you, and you will become overwhelmed and won’t know where to start.

To combat this, start each day by doing the list of tasks you least want to work on or the tasks that are the most challenging. Then, you won’t have to worry about them piling up and looming over your head.

3. You procrastinate because you’re doing work you don’t really enjoy 

There are two sides to this kind of dilemma. The first is that all of us are required to do certain things we don’t enjoy. That’s one of the rules of the game if you want to become more successful. You may not like it but that’s the way it is.

Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do. They don’t enjoy doing some of these things either, but they go ahead and do them anyway. This is a fundamental point, one that you need to fully understand if you're going to learn how to stop procrastinating.

The other side of the coin is that you may be stuck in a mediocre job or career that doesn’t allow you to use your greatest abilities. If that’s true, then look for an opportunity to expand your talents. Life is too short to be stuck in work you don’t enjoy. Most of the time, the type of work you do should stimulate you and give you energy.

Why stay in something that drains your energy and is not fulfilling?

If you’re not switching careers due to fear, remember that the biggest rewards in life are found outside your comfort zone. Being willing to feel the fear and take action anyway are prerequisites if you want to enjoy a life of success and adventure.

4. You procrastinate because you’re lazy

I’m going to be blunt for a moment. If you avoid taking action because you’d rather put your feet up every night and watch movie reruns on TV, there’s little chance you’ll be enjoying an abundant lifestyle anytime soon. If this were you, then you wouldn't have any interest in figuring out how to not procrastinate and you probably wouldn't be reading this post, so cheers to you!

The bottom line?

Success takes effort and consistent, focused activity. Laziness is not part of the equation.

Imagine what could happen if everyone substituted their TV time with regular meditation!

Now it’s time for YOU to succeed and stop procrastinating

Keeping these 4 reasons in mind, I want to leave you with a few thoughts.

Write down a list of things that you may be putting off doing right now, then ask yourself WHY am I putting off doing these things? If you can’t think of a good reason why you can’t complete the task, then make a plan of action for how you’re going to complete it and by when. 

To hold yourself accountable (now that you've learned how to stop procrastinating), leave a comment below with the list of tasks you’re going to complete and by when. I’ll follow up with you to make sure you’re staying on track!

Remember, nothing will change for the better until you do.

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Bonus Strategy: Chunk-Down that Goal to Avoid Procrastination

We rarely see them as a series of small, achievable tasks, but in reality, breaking down a large goal into smaller tasks—and accomplishing them one at a time—is exactly how any big goal gets achieved.

After you have decided what you really want, with specific deadlines, the next step is to determine all of the individual action steps you will need to take to accomplish your goal.

How to Chunk It Down

There are several ways to figure out the action steps you will need to take to accomplish any goal. One is to consult with people who have already done what you want to do and ask what steps they took. From their experience, they can give you all of the necessary steps as well as advice on what pitfalls to avoid.

Another way is to purchase a book or manual that outlines the process.

Yet another way is to start from the end and look backward. You simply close your eyes and imagine that it is now the future and you have already achieved your goal. Then just look back and see what you had to do to get to where you now are. What was the last thing you did? And then the thing before that, and then the thing before that, until you arrive at the first action you had to start with.

Remember that it is okay not to know how to do something.

It's okay to ask for guidance and advice from those who do know. Sometimes you can get it free, and sometimes you have to pay for it. Get used to asking, "Can you tell me how to go about...?" and "What would I have to do to...?" and "How did you...?"

Keep researching and asking until you can create a realistic action plan that will get you from where you are to where you want to go.

What will you need to do? How much money will you need to save or raise? What new skills will you need to learn? What resources will you need to mobilize? Who will you need to enroll in your vision? Who will you need to ask for assistance? What new disciplines or habits will you need to build into your life?

Another valuable technique for creating an action plan for your goals is called mind mapping. 

How to Stop Procrastinating with Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a simple but powerful process for creating a detailed to do list for achieving your goal. It lets you determine what information you'll need to gather, who you'll need to talk to, what small steps you'll need to take, how much money you'll need to earn or raise, which deadlines you'll need to meet, and so on—for each and every goal.

When I began creating my first educational audio program—a breakthrough goal that led to extraordinary gains for me and my business—I used mind mapping to help me "chunk down" that very large goal into all the individual tasks I would need to complete to produce a finished product.

To mind-map your own goals, follow these steps as illustrated in the example:

  1. Center circle: In the center circle, jot down the name of your stated goal—in this case, Create an Audio Educational Program.
  2. Outside circles: Next, divide the goal into the major categories of tasks you'll need to accomplish to achieve the greater goal—in this case, Title, Studio, Topics, Audience, and so on.
  3. Spokes: Then, draw spokes radiating outward from each mini-circle and label each one (such as Write Copy, Color Picture for Back Cover, and Arrange Lunch.)

On a separate line connected to the minicircle, write every single step you'll need to take. Break down each one of the more detailed task spokes with action items to help you create your master to do list. 

Next, Make a Daily To-Do List

Once you've completed a mind map for your goal, convert all of the to-do items into daily action items by listing each one on your daily to-do lists and committing to a completion date for each one. Then schedule them in the appropriate order into your calendar, and do whatever it takes to stay on schedule.

Do First Things First

The goal is to stay on schedule and complete the most important item first. In his excellent book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, Brian Tracy reveals not just how to conquer procrastination but also how to prioritize and complete all of your action items.

In his unique system, Brian advises goal setters to identify the one to five things you must accomplish on any given day, and then pick the one you absolutely must do first. This becomes your biggest and ugliest frog.

He then suggests you accomplish that task first—in essence, eat that frog first—and, by so doing; make the rest of your day much, much easier. It's a great strategy. But unfortunately, most of us leave the biggest and ugliest frog for last, hoping it will go away or somehow become easier. It never does. However, when you accomplish your toughest task early in the day, it sets the tone for the rest of your day.

By chunking down your goals, and then taking daily action on them, you create momentum and build your confidence, both of which move you farther and faster toward the achievement of your goals.

Now go take some action and leave a comment below if you've successfully figured out how to stop procrastinating!

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  • Emme G.

    I procrastinate for all of the above....but the most important reason is FEAR! When I decided to Jack Canfield's 6 month coaching program, the salesperson said that the primary cause of procrastination was fear. And for me that so hit home. Fear of failure, fear that things won't work out, and fear that circumstances will stay the same.

    With that said, today, I intend to order sample size (20 units) to fill pre-orders of MANSOUR Speaking the Language of Life Love - a first volume of my late husband's book of "literary expressions" that took me 4 years to edit, publish and complete. Better late than never, lol!

    Tomorrow, I will begin Business Cloning program by John Assaraf - one week of free videos.

    By next Wednesday, August 4th,I am going to commit the marketing strategy for his book to paper utilizing Jack Canfield's strategy that I have and customizing to fit his anthology.

    By the end of next week prepare and send letter to local JAZZ masters at Columbia University and New School to research best practices of creating lyrics, publishing and presenting music inspired by MANSOUR's "literary expressions".

    There you have it. I hope all those who write in can inspire each other to avoid the pitfalls of procrastination and instead pursue our passion with purpose.

    • You are on the right track, Emme. Keep pushing yourself forward to reach your goals and remember all of the things you learned in the coaching program. You have the power to get everything you want, you just have to reach out and grab it!

      • Emme G.

        Thank you very much for the encouragement, Yes, I still remember from Breakthrough to Success 2009, you personally shared with me the affirmation, "You can have it all!" I made it mine by adding" I can DO and have it all!" Thanks again!

  • Diann Martin

    Procrastination has been a habit and I appreciate your great insights and direction for overcoming it-here is my list
    1. declutter my house room by room and complete by August 12th
    2. complete first draft of my book by October 15 -write for 2 hours daily
    3. see my doctor and dentist by August 10th
    I could keep going but this is a start

  • Danielle Desiree Gomez

    I love these video blogs! Thanks for your insights, Jack!

  • See Kay Em

    Jack you are my best success coach ever.
    I like how you breakdown the message to be easily grasped by a wide audience.
    Procrastination is something that has kind of been reinforced within me because I work well under pressure, however sometimes I get overwhelmed.
    My to do list:
    -Write new pricing policy by 3rd aug 2016
    -submit mid year report by 5 th aug 2016
    -do 50%shopping for new baby on saturday 30th july (have put this off for the last 3 months)
    -place and follow up all pending orders by tuesday 2nd aug
    Write business plan for new pharmacy, and submit proposal to mgt by 8th aug 2016

    • Thank you for your kind words. Those are excellent goals, and it sounds like you are on track to achieve them.

  • Anna Harper

    I attended a seminar with Jack and achieved all of my seminar goals; at the time they seemed like a mountain. His book; The Success Principals is both inspiring and practical. I have given it as a gift to a young person working at Mac Donalds. These videos he is making available on FB get my full endorsement for a very quick and useful boost to your success.

    • Thank you, Anna. That employee is lucky to have met you.

  • Vicky

    This is a great video with a good nudge to me, certainly. I will hereby commit to approaching at least 5 records labels each month and to write a new song each month.

  • sherrie kapala

    Starting my #Sherapy business bc I know now that procrastination is telling me that I am not following my passion. Thank you for the insight. I'm going to do it!!

    • That's great, Sherrie! We're all rooting for you.

  • Katrina Seiter Farmer

    File my taxes- yes, I filed an extension -I procrastinated --ugh!!! File other paper work that needs to be sent in - walk everyday! I can do this!

  • Azisha Nesan

    Thank you so much Jack once again a very astute observation on procrastination. I would like to finish my E-Learning teaching modules 3 of them and have not been able to concentrate on it for the past 6 months. Would like to complete it by end of Aug 2016. Please hold me accoutable to it. Thanks.

    • You're welcome, Azisha. I'm glad you've brought your attention to your habits and are ready to make a change. That in itself is a very big step.

  • Emme G.

    I didn't order the books for print that I said I would do yesterday. Today is a new day and I intend to do it today after procrastinating for 2 months now.

  • Abi Oyenekan

    I must find a Literary Agent that deals with film scripts of a christian genre, and also do a 2nd draft of another script. i feel like a fish out of water!

  • Peggy

    Procrastinating billing and taxes for reason number 2. I will tackle this first thing Monday morning.

  • Liz

    This video came at just the right time. As I was watching it, I couldn't ignore what I have been procrastinating on for months. Reason number two is DEFINITELY what has been keeping me from working on my graduate school applications.

    My Task List:
    - Update my CV Resume (Friday, August 5)
    - Complete first draft of my Personal Statement (Friday, August 12)

    • Reason #2 is the toughest reason to overcome for a lot of people. Just by making that list you are a step closer to completion!

  • Felicia Caroline Xavier

    An amazing article
    I am filling up all my law notes by 1/8/16
    I am completing the book of Luke by 15/8/16
    I am completing my Evidence notes by 31/8/16

  • Ana Monaghan

    Let's see... here it's Hawaii Aleutian Time.

    * 7/30... Edit the next 6 chapters of one book by bedtime.
    * Finish one painting today by 1:00 pm.

    * Complete editing of 5 chapters/daily until Book 1 is finished:

    7/31... finish up to chapter 15

    8/1... up to chapter 20

    8/3... up to chapter 25

    8/4... up to chapter 30

    8/5... up to chapter 35

    8/6... up to chapter 40

    8/7... up to chapter 45

    8/8... up to chapter 50

    8/9... up to chapter 55

    8/10... up to chapter 60
    * 9 illustrations in 9 more days... by 8/21.

  • Navnish Kaur

    Start writing my first book and finish it by April 2017

  • Vicky

    The video kicked me into action. I have bought and hung a whiteboard in my office to write down all tasks and short term goals. Nothing will fall through the crack when they are visible.
    Thanks Jack.
    Vicky

  • Lesley Gene Agams

    Thanks Jack. Working on that short story and that book deal.

  • Deanne Deaville

    I’m very excited to be attending Jack Canfield's breakthrough to success training in just two weeks! Before this workshop, I will complete my plan of action. It sounds lame when I write this, like I should be able to sit down and write a plan of action right now in the next 15 minutes and not take two weeks. But in reality, there are many components and I intend to write them out in detail, as I’ve done this exercise before but without the detail and I find it changes, migrates, then once again I’m unsure of my direction and I wind up straying off the path, questioning why I was doing it to begin with and the priority of each of the areas. Then I start questioning my ability as doubt and fear creep in. For me this is the real reason I procrastinate – but Jack did say in the video there are four “good” reasons we procrastinate. Procrastination out of fear is not a good reason!

    • Deanne, we are thrilled for you to be joining us at the Breakthrough to Success workshop. Take your time on your plan, it requires a lot of thought and consideration. The point I'm really trying to make in this videos isn't that there are good reasons to procrastinate, but that there are 4 reasons most people do procrastinate and those reasons may seem "good" at the time. More of a *tongue and cheek* reference than a literal description of good reasons.

      • Deanne Deaville

        Hi Jack, thanks for the response. I got the tongue-in-cheek reference - when in doubt, come back to Principle #1 🙂 I am going to take a bit more time, writing a plan of action isn't really that difficult from a logical POV, but its the execution. It already feels more pushed rather than inspired. I automatically come from a place of logic, what is seemingly the "right" thing to do, and not necessarily the best thing, or the right thing for me. I hope to gain some clarity at BTS, really looking forward to it!

  • Ginette

    I need to start my morning rituals again. I always find something else to do. Guess i should make a daily schedule and stick to it. 1st. Write gratitude list, 2nd. write in journal 3rd. meditate 4th read. (Jack Canfield's books of course lol)

  • Kaya Tyzlik

    I'm going through a really though time in my life right now... My boyfriend recently went to jail. I was with him for almost 3 years. I got really dependant on him and now that he's gone I don't know how to motivate myself or how to deal with life. I read "The Secret" book and I'm really trying to stay positive and do everything it says in the book but it's very hard to keep my mind positive at all time.

    • I want to be more confident
    • I want to be independent
    • I want to be successful
    • I want to live a healthy life style

    I just need some guidance. I believe that you will read this Jack and maybe give me some tips on how to achieve these things or help me getting on the right track.

    • Hi Kaya - . I'm sorry to hear that you are facing difficult situations in your life. The answers to all of your questions can be found in my book, The Success Principles. It addresses all of the things you've listed above, and will help you turn your negative situation into a positive one. I have faith in your ability to do it, now you have to believe you can too. Here's the link: http://amzn.to/2bl7FI1

  • Good tips. Procrastination is more or less a virus that needs to be zapped. This means that habits need to be shifted with true intent. Less T.V. and buzzfeed and more focused activity.

  • Clt

    Man I'm starting from ground zero I have to get my GED and making it off probation

    • Well, there's 2 advantages to that.

      1 - You have little to lose, starting at ground zero. So you can be reckless in the pursuit of your success.
      2 - You've already identified 2 clear goals that you must achieve to move forward. Now all you have to do is make your plan and take action on them.

      It's often easy to see our life situations as grim, but if you shift your mindset to see the positives, you will always find them.

      Good luck to you, I hope you get what you're after.
      Best,
      Jack

  • Nicolas Rodriguez

    Hi Jack as always a pleasure to read the article! I´ve been deep into creating art this last weeks but at the same time I feel the resistance at the moment is strong. Sometimes in hours the effort to create momentum is titanic and the results are just regular at best. I´ve been procastinating the task of creating art after academic hours (afternoon and night) and I have been postponing it for some weeks now. So I´m being accountable for:
    - Creating two charcoal figurative drawings at the top of my abilities by Sunday 20/8/17 at 10 pm.

    That´s for the moment, I hope you are enjoying your life!