Procrastination: Why? And How To Stop?

Procrastination is the first topic we'll tackle in my 6-week Spring Organizing Challenge, looking at the spiritual side of clutter! Read on for solutions!

Procrastination:“To indefinitely postpone or avoid performing a task out of anxiety, rather than time constraints or logic," says Julie Morgenstern. We all do it. Here are some reasons why, and suggestions on how to stop!


  1. Procrastination and Perfectionism, “Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection,” often go together. Perfectionists defer projects until the situation is “perfect”, which rarely occurs.
  2. Often we’re afraid of doing the wrong thing, so we do nothing. My dad says “Do something, even if it is wrong.” To progress, we have to move. But we also should do the right things, instead of ….

Confusing busy work for real work:

  1. Harold Taylor says “Don’t confuse busy work with real work. Mark Forster, in his book Do It Tomorrow points out that real work advances your business or job while busy work is what you do to avoid real work. Real work includes things such as planning, goal setting, creative thinking, problem solving and decision-making. There is little visible activity with this type of work – consequently, busy work looks more like real work than real work does.” Judge by results, not activity.

Unrealistic Time Estimates:

  1. We often distort time estimate for tasks by over-inflating estimates for undesirable tasks, and underinflating estimates for things we like to do. 
  2. Open-ended tasks, like “Re-do my website and blog,” make me nervous because it seems they might stretch out indefinitely. Because I can’t see the end, I don’t begin. Here’s how to break the habit:
    • Determine true time estimates for regular tasks by keeping a time diary for two weeks.
    • Recognize that all projects are made up of a series of steps.
    • Set a timer or alarm clock and do as many steps as you can within your time boundaries.

Seeing Only the Little Picture:

  1. Procrastinators may only see their Little Picture instead of the Big Picture.  They forget we all co-exist, and that their choices affect others.
  2. Procrastinators may wait to complete projects to create challenge or excitement, forgetting that emergencies happen and sometimes the answer is “No.”
  3. I am typically sympathetic, but not when a person’s choice of procrastination over action causes drama.
  4. What to do about it?  
    • Open your eyes and see the Big Picture. Be more considerate of other people’s time as well as your own.
    • Find some other healthy outlet for your adrenaline rush, and ditch the drama.
    • Let experience win over optimism.  If you often leave things undone until the last minute and get burned, start sooner next time!

You Just Don’t Know Where to Start:

  1. Pick a spot, choose a path and begin. Move left-to-right, or right-to-left around your project area. 
  2. Whether you have 20 minutes or 4 hours, focus on just one project area to attain greater results.
  3. If you need to prioritize multiple projects, begin with the one that will bring you the most relief, or with the area that is causing the most pain right now. 

If any of these reasons for procrastination feels familiar, make positive choices this week! Start living better today!

This is part of the Feb. 28 edition of Colleen CPO's Blog.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Madeline McCalip March 05, 2012 at 02:44 PM
This is a great article! You have given me new incentive to get going. Thank you!


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