How to stop procrastination: Ten (10) tips for getting your work done

How to avoid procrastination: building self-awareness & specific steps to avoid procrastination.

You really can do something about procrastination.

If you think you “work best under pressure,” or if you think that “getting it done in the last minute” are good strategies, we beg you to think again.  By definition, procrastination is any delay that causes harm. Last-minute work almost always could have been better with planning and earlier start.

These strategies will help:

1. Don’t reward yourself for doing nothing

Putting off something you don’t want in order to avoid stress is called “giving in to feel good.”

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2. Recognize that your mood does not need to match your work

Work is work;  moods are moods. They are unrelated.

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3. Use “Time travel”

Future-Self calling on Present-Self: “please get going on this thing now, because it’s a week later and now I’ve got too much to do!”

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4. “Pre-decide” to do your work:

Don’t let impulse make your decisions, decide to do it in advance

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5. Just get it started!

Don’t scare yourself with “Just do it” – instead, “Just start it.”

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6. Ask for help

Reaching out for help is getting started.

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7. Work in chunks & recharge your willpower

You will be less able to do everything later than you are today, so apply your power of will and get started in chunks.

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8. Avoid and control distractions

(“I’ll just…” oops, later is here again)

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9. Trade your work for something, not for nothing

Instead of doing nothing, put off one thing in exchange for doing another.

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10. Don’t beat yourself up over it!

The more you worry about poor choices in the past, the more stressed you will become.

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Bonus tips:

Recognize your personality type

Everyone is different, and we all struggle with something.

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Set specific and not general (abstract) goals

Focus on little things, not the big picture

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These tips are derived from our experience working with students and from the amazing advice of Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl and his blog, “Don’t Delay” on and his Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University. See also this article in the Wall Street Journal for more on these ideas: To Stop Procrastinating, Look to Science of Mood Repair.

For more on these ideas please see our posts here, including:

– Michael