How we procrastinate

(and may not even know it.)

Procrastination is an easy way that all of us get stuck. And yet, we may not even realize we’re doing it. When we unknowingly act like an Avoider, we create reasons in our heads that supply us with enough logic that we can delay the task at hand—sometimes indefinitely. Recognizing these avoidance tactics is half the battle in stopping them. Here are four frequent ways that you may unwittingly delay the evitable.

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Unstuck helps you solve life’s problems, big and small, by looking at what has you stuck and how to change that. The free Unstuck digital coach is available as an iPad app and as a web app for Android, iPhone, and computer. To focus on specific habits, use the Unstuck Tip Card decks to Stop Your Procrastination, Conjure Your Creativity, Stop Your Negative Thinking, or Boost Your Productivity.

9 tips to stop procrastinating

  1. 1
    Remind yourself that there’s always more to be done than can be done. Then ask yourself if you’re getting the right things done.
  2. 2
    Make a smart to-do list by including only the items that you’re avoiding, not the ones you know you’ll do anyway. Then set deadlines.
  3. 3
    Break the task down to lessen the sense of being overwhelmed. Once you start to enjoy a small accomplishment or two, you’re more likely to finish.
  4. 4
    Eliminate temptation to do something else (if your Siren song is the computer, see "Tuning out digital distractions" below).
  5. 5
    Bargain with yourself. If you finish the business plan now, you can go to the movies later.
  6. 6
    Focus on the success you will achieve and the joy you will feel.
  7. 7
    Come up with a consequence that will deter you from avoiding the task. If you don’t exercise two times a week, you have to give up talking on the phone with your friends.
  8. 8
    Ask someone to help you complete the task.
  9. 9
    Make your intentions public. This will add pressure, but for some of us, avoiding embarrassment is the mightiest motivator.

The danger of procrastination

Letting yourself put things off can have greater implications than we may realize. To start, it fosters distress. According to The New Yorker, 65% of students faced with writing a term paper said they would like to avoid procrastinating because they knew the delay would make them unhappy.

In addition to the stress and guilt that comes with procrastination, consider these other very real consequences of putting off what you need to do:

Tuning out digital distractions

"E-mail is a procrastinator’s dream come true," writes author Gayle Trend. And as much as we may love them, so are YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. To overcome digital distractions, try any of these programs designed to help you gain control over your time.

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