How to Overcome Procrastination

ADHD Assist
5 min readMay 3, 2022

Does procrastination derail your progress?

If you said yes, you are not alone.

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What exactly is procrastination?

Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead.

How common is procrastination?

According to a 2015 study, approximately, 20–25% of adult men and women living around the world are indulged in chronic procrastination in various domains like academic, social relationships, professional, and finance management.

What are the negative effects of procrastination?

Procrastination comes with significant links to:

  • lower levels of health
  • lower levels of wealth
  • lower levels of well-being

Procrastination can restrict your potential, undermine your career and create difficulty in relationships.

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Yup, you read that right.
Life is just worse when we chronically procrastinate :(

How can we overcome procrastination?

FIRST, you need to determine why you are procrastinating.
Here are some possible reasons why:

  1. Avoiding a task because you think it is boring or unpleasant.
  2. Poor organization or indecisiveness — When we aren’t organized or don’t know what to do next, then this can lead to feelings of overwhelm trying to determine the next steps so we avoid it altogether.
  3. Perfectionism — Fear of failure. Sometimes we would prefer to avoid a task altogether, rather than not complete it in accordance with our high (perfect) standards.
  4. Fear of success — Yup, people subconsciously will avoid success because of feeling undeserving or because they think it will bring more work.
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Strategies for overcoming procrastination:
I just want to note that procrastination can be a deeply ingrained pattern of behaviour, so it might take a few techniques and some time and patience to re-write your programming around this.

  • Self-forgiveness Studies show that self-forgiveness about our past procrastination can prevent FUTURE procrastination. So don’t be hard on yourself! That quite literally will make it worse. Here is a self-forgiveness meditation you can try.
  • Writing task lists — If you know the tasks you need to do, write them down the night before so that the next day you can get started knowing exactly what needs to be done. ALSO — write down the approximate amount of time it will take to complete each task. This will remove some of the uncertainty around the task.
  • Re-phrase your inner dialogue — The words we tell ourselves are of vital importance. Phrases like “I have to”,”I need to” or “I should do” are stern phrases. They imply that there is no choice in the matter and this can be disempowering and lead to self-sabotage. Instead, choose a more empowering phrase such as “I choose to” which will make you feel more in control.
  • 5-second rule — This one was coined by Mel Robbins. It’s so simple, but it works. If you are feeling apprehensive or hesitant before starting a task, you simply countdown from 5 right before “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO” and start. Give this s try! This is a video that explains this phenomenon.
  • Accountabilibuddy — This is finding someone who will keep you accountable for completing your tasks. This can be a coach, friend, spouse or co-worker with that you feel comfortable disclosing your goals and who will help keep you on track.
  • Avoid distraction — Turn off your social media and email notifications and stay away from your TV while working!
  • Get your harder tasks done first — Getting your harder or more unpleasant tasks completed first will leave the rest of your day for more enjoyable tasks. This can help improve your compliance overall.
  • Create a reward system — This is a strategy to ‘gamify’ your task by infusing some fun/competition into it. If you have a list of tasks for the day/week, assign each one with an appropriate number of points. Then create daily or weekly rewards that are worth a high number of points that you can cash in when you have attained the right number of points from completing your tasks.
  • Identify long-term benefits of task completion — This is helpful when you find your tasks boring. Research shows that impulsive people will focus more on the short-term gain vs the long-term gain which will lead to task avoidance in search of something more instantly rewarding (hello social media). Identifying the long-term benefit of completing your task and writing it down or creating a vision board about it for you to see every day will help you remember the WHY behind what you are doing. Examples: having a good performance review (more money), financial freedom, better relationships, future promotion, time freedom (if creating a business), better self-esteem, better health, etc.
  • Identify unpleasant consequences of not completing the task — By identifying the consequences of not completing your tasks, you remind yourself what you have to lose by not taking action. This is leveraging negative reinforcement.
  • Pomodoro technique — This is a tool that breaks up your tasks into 25-minute segments followed by a 5-minute break. This is supposed to help keep your brain fresh by inserting 5-minute breaks throughout the day PLUS it leverages urgency by only having 25-minute windows which can prompt you to work harder/faster. This is a Pomodoro website that you can use for the timing.
  • Utilize task management apps This website has laid out some of the best apps to help with task management.
  • Meditation — I relentlessly promote meditation for everything because it’s just so darn effective for everything. Procrastination is no exception. Mindfulness meditation can help boost mood and alleviate depression which can improve your ability to initiate tasks. Give this bad boy a try!
  • Identify expected setbacks — Studies show that when we are generating our goals and task lists it is important to ALSO anticipate potential setbacks and problems that can occur. That way when they occur, it’s less jolting to the system as they were fully expected. This will lead to less overwhelm and a less likely chance for you to stop what you are doing.

Well, there you have it. If you’ve made it this far in reading please pat yourself on the back right now.

My suggestion to you is to first determine WHY you are procrastinating and then choose a few strategies that align with that.

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Happy tasking!




ADHD Assist

160K+ followers on TikTok @adhd_assist. Talking shop about ADHD and natural solutions that can help improve our lives.