How to Overcome Procrastination: Why Do I Procrastinate?

What do you think about when you hear the word “procrastination?” Do you feel embarrassed, guilty or ashamed that you are putting off tasks that you know you have to do? Rather than dump on yourself for procrastinating, why not ask yourself why you are procrastinating. The answers will give you some valuable clues as to how you are living your life. So think of procrastination as your friend as you begin to dissect the reasons you are procrastinating and use the following tips to start doing all those things that you may have been putting off!
Tip #1: Know Your Goals
“I don’t wanna do it.”
Goals are extremely useful in providing direction and in motivating you to get things done. For example, at work and in your creative endeavors, if you know what projects are important to you, you can set goals around them. Often we do not want to do something because it is not important to us. So the next time you find yourself thinking, “I don’t wanna do it”, asks yourself whether the task contributes to your goals. If not, just say no and start doing things that are consistent with your goals.
Tip #2: Know Your Values
“I can’t decide what to do.”
Values are the principles by which we lead our lives. Once you know your values, you can begin to make decisions that honor your top values For example, if you are someone who values creativity and your professional life does not offer a lot of room for creative thought, it’s no wonder that you may be avoiding your daily tasks. So the next time you don’t feel like doing something, ask yourself what values are at stake. If your task can lead to something that you value, you may be more inclined to do it!
Tip #3: Make a Daily Written To-Do List
“I feel overwhelmed.”
Do you find yourself avoiding doing things because you feel overwhelmed? A great way to get clarity is to spend time making a daily to-do list that incorporates your short and long-term goals. Set aside a time each day to plan your day and think about:
– What is the most important thing about today?
– What must get done today?
– What is important about the future?
This will get you thinking about your goals and the actions that you are taking towards your goals. Make a written list of
– what has to be accomplished today
– this week
– this month
– next month PLUS
– leave time for the unexpected
Then focus on what are your highest value activities right now. Doing less completely rather than scattering yourself doing too much will result in greater productivity and satisfaction.
Tip # 4: The 80/20 Rule
“I don’t know where to begin.”
80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. This rule was discovered by the Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1895. That means that 20% of your tasks represent 80% of the value of what you do.
This is a great way to maximize the use of your time because you are focusing on what has the biggest impact on your time. So look at your to-do list of 10 things: which 2 things on your list will have the biggest impact on what you need to get done? Do these and you will be 80% of the way there!
Tip #5: Get Help
“I don’t know how to do it.”
And then you don’t do it. Rather than stay in the place of procrastination, ask yourself the following questions:
– Do I need to learn a new skill?
– Do I need additional information and/or more research?
– Do I need to consult someone for advise or input?
– Do I need some quiet thinking time to remember how you solved a similar challenge in the past?
By asking yourself these simple questions, you can begin to tackle your piles of tasks and start to feel more productive and in charge of your time. Now doesn’t that feel great?


(C) Astrid Baumgardner 2010

I would be delighted if you should wish to reprint (for free) any part of this article in your newsletters, blogs, websites, and message boards. Please include the following attribution:
Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success.  In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and  Personal Branding and Networking.  She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.