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Tips to Beat Procrastination

Procrastination is a habit that can be quite harmless, as some people thrive on the stress of putting things off until deadline. But procrastination can be a serious problem if it throws the important matters in your life out of whack. If your grades suffer because you keep putting off term papers until the last minute, or if you miss deadlines at the office, you may want to change your habit.

Not only can you break the procrastination habit, but you can do it right now. By making a list of what you do when you procrastinate and then delving into your psyche to discover the roots of this behavior, you’ll be on your way to finding a solution to the “I’ll do it later” blues.

Procrastination is the act of intentionally and habitually putting off something that should probably be done right away. Thinking about this definition can help you determine your station in the procrastination nation:

Are you a constructive procrastinator? Not all procrastination is a problem. For instance, rushing off to an aerobics class before starting a new assignment at work can be a positive way to get invigorated for the challenge ahead. Doing laundry, cleaning out your closets, reorganizing the kitchen shelves, or any number of constructive tasks can be a great way to prepare mentally and creatively for a challenge ahead.

Are you a destructive procrastinator? If procrastination is ruling your life, and as a result your career, education, or relationships are in danger, you may want to speak to your doctor about professional help.

Are you a constructive/destructive procrastinator? You sometimes use procrastination to your advantage, but it weighs you down in the long run. Perhaps tasks you completed at the last minute could have been performed better if only you didn’t spend all that time chatting with friends. Although this 2torial is useful for all kinds of procrastinators, it’s specifically geared toward this group.

Identify Your Procrastination Symptoms

To understand the habit, take a personal inventory of when and how you usually procrastinate. This information will help you answer the question of why you do it, and then you can begin to look for a solution. For now, make a simple chart listing the tasks you habitually put off, what you do to avoid these tasks, and whether each actually constitutes procrastination.

Procrastination Chart

Are there particular situations in which you procrastinate more than others? Fill in the first column of your chart with five or so tasks that send you into procrastination mode.

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How do you procrastinate? In the next section of the chart, write what you do to avoid each corresponding task. Do you chat with friends or coworkers? Do you send personal emails or shop on the Internet? Do you eat, read the newspaper, or watch television?

How do you know you’re procrastinating? Looking at your chart, trust your instincts to decide whether or not each behavior actually constitutes procrastination. You’ll know whether or not it’s actually a much-needed break or rest.

Tips to Beat Procrastination

Steve Bressert, Ph.D.

Steve Bressert, Ph.D. is a retired professor and clinician in clinical psychology. He writes occasionally for Psych Central and other mental health and psychology publications.

APA Reference
Bressert, S. (2020). Tips to Beat Procrastination. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.