How to stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done

Table of Contents

It is hard to motivate yourself to do the jobs you have to, and you might not realise you are procrastinating. Ask yourself questions like: should I even be doing this? Why do I feel overwhelmed with this task? This article discusses how to stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done. Procrastination is defined as delaying a task or putting it off. Postponing a task that you must do requires effort and focus. You would rather listen to music, watch Netflix, or chat with friends, but after procrastinating, you feel guilty or assume you are not great at time management.

If you procrastinate about things you must do, you may feel unmotivated, and your to-do list may get longer and longer. The anxious and panicky feeling will increase the more you delay the tasks you are meant to do, making you feel agitated. However, some procrastinators can be creative and more productive, creating better results once they start the task, and motivating them to finish.

In his 2013 study, Dr Tim Pychyl, a psychology professor at the University in Ottawa, suggested that “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,”. The professor does not think it’s a character flaw or a time management issue but how we cope with negative moods and emotions brought on by self-doubt, low self-esteem, frustration, insecurity, anxious thoughts and boredom.

Why do I keep procrastinating, and what causes procrastinating in the brain?

Isn’t it strange that you procrastinate to avoid negative emotions, but you will feel even worse when it affects the tasks you are meant to do? When we put our to-do list off and experience negative emotions, we assume a future problem. Like anxiety and stress, these emotions can trigger the ‘threat detector’ amygdala part of your brain and see that task as a threat. Your natural stress/anxiety response will be to remove the threat by ignoring the task, but you won’t stop procrastinating or finding out why you procrastinate.

How do you find the root causes of your procrastination?

At the core, procrastination is not about productivity; it’s about your emotions. Managing your emotions is a way to stay in control of your procrastination. You can also give yourself a break from stop procrastinating and practise self-forgiveness.

The relationship between your stress and the performance you feel is well known. You can use this technique to be more productive without allowing the feelings of overwhelming to build.  If you can change things, letting your creativity flow is the smart thing to do. For example, your boss has given you a report today to finish and do a presentation tomorrow. You feel afraid of presenting the report in from of your colleagues but focusing calmly on completing the report first. And then practice by reading the report a few times. You will then present the report smoothly and calmly as you know the subject well.

How to stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done:

3 steps can use to turn their procrastination into a positive force:

  1. Become aware of why you are not doing the tasks or jobs you need to complete and why you are procrastinating at this time. You may doubt that you can do the task, complete it, or believe in the task you are meant to do. These may cause you to lose confidence and ask questions before tackling the task. Are you procrastinating because it goes against your principles and values? Are you scared of failure? If you can get the answers to questions, then you will be able to move on.
  2. If you want to move forward with a creative idea or a product, don’t let your guilt about procrastinating stop you. You will have self-critical and negative thoughts and may start getting into a negative spin of procrastination. See it as positively that your creative ideas can help you long term.
  3. If you’re putting off doing a new hobby or challenge because you find it daunting, find a way to break it down into small steps. Try to do a single element of the whole challenge and don’t see it as a whole big challenge’. For example, you were given a big project within a month. Plan the whole project’s outline, and tackling this head-on in small steps will release your productivity. Make friends to help you be accountable; team up with this friend to share deadlines, achieve your goals and share ideas or suggestions that will meet your deadlines. You can help stay accountable and on track by collaborating and talking or planning together to figure out how to achieve your goal best.

If hampered by procrastinating and you’re struggling with your performance and productivity, seek help. Read “Fear Less Live More” a simple-to-use book that will help you with any challenges this article (how to stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done) you may face. Contact me for a free consultation or chat about the challenges you’re facing to see whether Resilience coaching could help you focus on what’s important. Call 07967 151790 or email

Andrea A Smith
Andrea A Smith

I help Individuals and Organisations to manage workplace stress, anxiety & overwhelm. By building long-lasting resilience, having a step-by-step guide for forming habits that stick and creating an anti-burnout culture: individuals and teams can improve their performance and productivity. To feel happier, healthier and in control of your emotions and life.