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Discussion Topic

3 Ways to Battle Procrastination–NOW!

We’ve all got deadlines to meet, bathrooms to clean, people to call. Why does it take some of us so long to get it done?

Here are some ways for us to battle procrastination:


1. Accept that procrastination feels good. (or at least better than getting to the grind of the task at hand).


When we think about having to sit down and finish that report, or start studying for a midterm, I’m pretty sure that most of us are not blissfully imagining ourselves at a desk memorizing the periodic table or analyzing data.  But when I think about,  say going to the fridge to eat a sandwich, or reading the latest People magazine, all of a sudden, my troubles disappear. What bills? It is a relief that I welcome with gladness.


The problem is, that we get addicted to this feeling, and that’s where habitual procrastination comes in.  What we are doing when we procrastinate is avoiding the tension that happens when we think about a  task that we feel is overwhelming, boring, or frustrating.


Learning to deal with the tension, accepting that in life, there is frustration, there is tension, there are boring things that just need to be done, and facing it head on rather than trying to avoid it, will lead us to a much better, rewarding place in the end.


We might even see that the tension waxes and wanes, the boredom is not as intense as we thought it would be, the task at hand is not as overwhelming as we imagined.  And as we continue to face this tension, we become stronger.


2.  Break up your task into bite-sized pieces

Thinking about a large, abstract task can cause people to feel overwhelmed and therefore procrastinate. Breaking down a task into bite-sized concrete pieces helps us see that this is a task that is doable. When a task is “doable” in our minds, we have more confidence and are more likely to tackle it.


Take for example, the goal of “I want to lose 40 pounds.” That can seem like a pretty overwhelming task. Losing 40 pounds is not easy!


However, if I said to myself  “My goal is to walk around the block once every day.” DONE!  I can do that, with a much greater probability than losing 40 pounds.  As I continue to up my goals little by little in realistic, doable chunks, I see myself slowly losing the weight.


Go from big and abstract, to smaller, more concrete goals.


3. Don’t fool yourself ! 

We love to fool ourselves with statements like, “I’ll do it tomorrow”  or  “Take it easy.”  Now I’m not saying that there are times where we need to prioritize something else and do a certain task at a later date. I’m talking about the excuses we make that sabatoge our efforts to get things done!


Instead of fooling ourselves with those sabatoging statements, we need to fight back and analyze them. We need to ask ourselves, “what will happen if I do it tomorrow? Will I really be able to do a good job?” or “if I take it easy today, I know I’ll be pulling my hair out tomorrow!”


Be on guard about these statements that give us excuses to procrastinate but end up biting us in the end.


Remember: letting go of a habit doesn’t go away over night. Keep at it, take it slow and give yourself time to change. Expect relapses but keep going and you’ll see the results! Work with someone if you need to–a friend, colleage, therapist. But don’t give up!





Lia Huynh, MFT
545 Los Coches St. Suite112
Milpitas CA 95035
(408) 599-1413
Counselor and Psychotherapist serving the Milpitas, San Jose and Fremont areas