How to stop procrastinating: Tips to beat procrastination

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“Why do I keep procrastinating?”

Procrastination – we’re all guilty of it!

Whether you’re scrolling through LinkedIn to delay tackling a tricky work email, or you’re doing anything under the sun to put off your graduate opportunities, procrastination habits affect us all.

Whatever form of procrastination is your vice, it’s important to understand that it is a common human behaviour that most of us do.

But, whilst it can feel like procrastination benefits stress levels in the short-term, there’s an inescapable feeling of procrastination guilt that can result from too much procrastination.

Further, the procrastination problem can become serious when delaying tasks starts to prevent you from achieving your career and life goals.

Don’t fret! Breaking the procrastination cycle is possible.

In this procrastination blog, we look closely at what procrastination means, what causes procrastination and tips on how to not procrastinate.

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What is the definition of procrastination?

The meaning of procrastination is: to keep delaying or postponing something that should be done, often because the task is hard, unpleasant or tedious.

Procrastination examples include putting off a university assignment until the night before it’s due and browsing social media to avoid doing admin.

Procrastination defined generally as ‘laziness’ or ‘idleness’ tends to infer negative characteristics about serial procrastinators.

Why procrastination is bad is down to its habitual nature which, in extreme circumstances, can have an adverse effect on a person’s productivity.

As such, the correct procrastination definition does not conflate procrastination and laziness.


What is the cause of procrastination?

Why we procrastinate can be due to fear of failure and perfectionism – it’s often a natural reaction to anxiety.

Procrastination causes include:

  • Difficulty: Often if tasks are unpleasant or difficult, it is easier to push them to the side in place of more manageable tasks. For example, procrastination of students usually occurs when they are facing the prospect of writing their dissertation.
  • Stress: Under pressured circumstances, lots of small tasks can become overwhelming and cause anxiety. For instance, workplace procrastination often occurs when employees have to multi-task lots of demanding deadlines.
  • Boredom: When facing tedious and monotonous tasks, it is common for people to struggle with focus, finding themselves easily distracted by more engaging alternatives.
  • Low self-esteem: Having a negative outlook and thinking that you can’t complete a task will, in turn, make that task harder to do. In this way, procrastination and depression can often go hand in hand.

Find out exactly how to implement this procrastination help below, and take our procrastination quiz to find out what kind of procrastinator you are!

“How do I stop procrastinating?”

Learning how to stop procrastinating at work, how to stop procrastinating and start studying, or generally how to stop procrastinating and get things done takes time and effort.

When seeking out procrastination solutions, it is important not to look for how to cure procrastination or how to stop procrastination forever.

Afterall, minor procrastination habits are a relatively harmless part of everyday life.

As such, it is better to look for how to minimise procrastination and find ways to manage procrastination.

Here are a few tips on how to stop procrastinating and be productive:

  • The first step to overcoming procrastination is knowing which of your tasks is most important to complete first.

    Write a to-do list of everything you want to achieve in a day and label all the most pressing tasks with a ‘1’, the second most pressing tasks a ‘2’, and so on.

    It is also a good idea to plan a rough timeframe in which you wish to complete each task – procrastination and time management are the antithesis of eachother.

    Organising your tasks this way helps with organisation and prevents you from becoming overwhelmed.

    If you often find yourself panicking about multiple deadlines, this technique will allow you to stay calm and get started with a task, instead of procrastinating over it.

  • Procrastination psychology studies have concluded that one of the main reasons we procrastinate is because the task at hand seems too daunting.

    Setting yourself tasks that are impossible to achieve in the time frame you’ve set yourself, for example, “I want to apply to 50 jobs by lunch”, is likely to increase the chances you’ll procrastinate – it’s an overly ambitious goal.

    If you’re wondering why you procrastinate even when your workload is organised, it is likely because your plan is unrealistic.

    Think more carefully about what you can actually achieve in the time you have, and divide the workload for a task into more manageable time segments.

    Making a task you want to achieve as manageable as possible is the best way to end the procrastination loop.

  • It is important to not only question why procrastination happens, but also question what behaviour that procrastination leads to.

    For instance, when you are bored or overwhelmed, what is your go-to means of distraction?

    Are you finding yourself distracted by your phone, scrolling through LinkedIn on your laptop, or are you taking lots of tea breaks?

    Think about how you can reduce the time you’re spending on these distractions – whether it’s scheduling specific tea breaks, or simply putting your phone somewhere out of sight.

    There are also lots of great procrastination apps out there for those needing extra support limiting their distrations.

    Hold is a phone procrastination killer that allows you to collect points the longer you spend off your phone.

    These points can then be exchanged for rewards, including cinema tickets and food vouchers!

    Whilst procrastination leads to stress, productivity can lead to reward.

  • Taking breaks is one of the top strategies for overcoming procrastination.

    By designating time to decompress, and appointing yourself time to engage with the things that usually distract you, your desire to procrastinate should decrease.

    Making time for the things you enjoy, whether it’s gaming or chatting to friends, will also encourage you to adopt a positive mindset that is more likely to pick producivity over procrastination.

    If you’re in full-time employment you will have mandatory breaks – make sure to use of them!

    Another great way for how to avoid procrastination when studying and working is rewarding yourself for your achievements.

    Using incentives, no matter how small or big, allows you to gain motivation and stay focused.

    For example, saying to yourself, “if I complete this project I’ll buy that new pair of shoes”, or “if I work on my assignment for three hours I’ll watch an episode of my new series.”

  • It is also important to think about why you’re procrastinating, instead of solely thinking about how to stop yourself from procrastinating.

    If you are procrastinating a mundane task because it is tedious, your distraction is likely surface-level.

    However, if you find yourself repeatedly procrastinating from your university assignments, it may be a sign of something more deep-rooted.

    In these circumstances, it is appropriate to take some time out, reflect and take further action if required.

    For the student who constantly procrastinates when doing their university work, perhaps a change of course is the real solution.

    University career services can be a great resource for course advice, find out how to make the most of your university career service here.

    Or, if you constantly have job search procrastination, perhaps this is more deeply rooted in your career worries.

    Take our career quiz, to find out what graduate job you’re best suited to.


    Give A Grad A Go offer a personalised job match service, aiding your graduate job applications every step of the way, get in touch and kick-start your graduate job search.

    Whatever the reason, it’s important to stop and think about the reasons you are putting off a task to figure out how to procrastinate less.


Instead of providing a procrastination elimination method, our tips to beat procrastination have provided an attainable way to reduce procrastination in your work and personal life.

Take our procrastination quiz to find our what type of procrastinator you are!

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