Four Quick Tricks to Overcome Procrastination

Why is it that we don't do what we know we should do? We've heard it before, time and again: itemize tasks by priority, then work on our projects in that order. And yet, even if we've made the list, we tend to focus on the most familiar endeavors first, and then we run out of time and energy for the most important ones.

Procrastination is a sly devil that convinces you to put off what you know is crucial, and instead fill your day with busy tasks that do little to contribute to your overall success and happiness. If you feel stuck on a treadmill of missed deadlines and opportunities, these four habits will launch you into a new mindset of timely action:

1. Make a Habit of Prioritizing Tasks

Every evening, write a list of the six most important things to accomplish the following day that will move you toward your big goals, such as making a phone call that would connect you with a possible promotion or outlining a project you've dreamed of doing.

Ask yourself frequently during the day: Am I moving toward my big goals, or am I spinning in circles with busywork?

Successful people make a habit of doing what is required for progress, not because they enjoy all the top priority tasks, but because they understand the long-term value of doing them anyway.

2. Use a Chunk-by-Chunk Timeline

The opposite of procrastination is being proactive. When we discipline our mind, we give ourselves a command (e.g., Finalize this report by four o'clock) and then follow through. It takes less energy to do work when you first have the task in front of you, than to put it off, worrying about it more and more, until it becomes a headache or disaster.

When we procrastinate, we lean into the ready excuses of why something else, usually something easier, is more crucial to do first, leaving the important things to spill over into the next day, and the next.

Many times, procrastination arises when there is no deadline or sense of urgency, and important projects get trundled off to the eventual panicked rush at the deadline.

Break down your big projects into activity chunks, allowing ample time for each segment. A simple list or calendar will work. Keep the first action step as close to today's date as possible. Otherwise, your former pal Procrastination will convince you to start next week, next month, next year…next decade!

3. Picture It Completed

If you've ever needed to clear your desk or de-clutter the house before vacation or a special event, you automatically went into high gear. You did the most crucial things and left the rest for later. More likely than not, you were spurred on by the event or trip. That picture in your mind of what you would be enjoying soon kept you going even when some of the tasks were unpleasant, tedious, or boring.

Transfer that motivation-ability toward the big projects you habitually procrastinate on.

Get clear on the result you desire and then imagine how it will feel to accomplish that. Picture it in detail. Imagine it has already been easily and efficiently done. It feels great, doesn't it? Now, envision a brief scene that would signify successful completion, such as someone shaking your hand in congratulations, telling a friend "I did it!", or crossing the threshold of your newly organized home. Be creative, but keep the scene brief.

Feel a deep sense of appreciation in advance that the project is done satisfactorily. And then, while keeping the successful outcome and that brief creative scene in mind, dive in and do the work.

4. Reward Your Progress Steps

It's common to reward others for services rendered—such as tipping a server, the parking valet, or hairdresser—but all too often, we assume our own reward is off in the future, and we'll get it after a lot of hard work and sacrifices prove we deserve it.

Give yourself progressive rewards. They don't have to be time-consuming or expensive. Take a pleasure break after you reach a milestone, treat yourself to a new restaurant or a movie you've been wanting to see.

Each time you reward yourself for baby steps forward, you support and reinforce success habits, and you also make the journey more pleasurable.

Everyone procrastinates at times, but with the tools above, you can learn to turn that bad habit around and become more productive and happier.


Evelyn Roberts Brooks is a bestselling author, speaker and transformational life coach.  Go to to enjoy over 400 free articles, free webinar invitations and to receive your free 3-Way Guilt & Stress Busters gift collection. To learn more about W.A.I.T. and other tools for working in harmony with the universal laws, see her book, "You Were Born to Triumph: Create a Five-Star Life in Your Quantum Kitchen." For your free parenting workshop video gift, "The Secret to Family Harmony, " and articles about raising great children and enjoying a happy family life, click here