Take out the trash please.
I will in a minute.
How about now?
I will get to it later, don’t worry!

But we do worry… at least with some people! They procrastinate when it comes to getting things done. Or maybe this is your struggle. You know this is a problem but continue to put things off for a later date or time.

Which leads to the question, why do we procrastinate when we know the results are usually negative? Is it the anxiety of doing something perfectly that keeps us from getting started? Maybe, but usually there is more at work behind this negative habit.

Procrastination is tied to impulsivity. When stressed, the impulsive person becomes anxious and avoids dealing with the stressor. To avoid, the person does something else other than the task at hand. However, the delay creates more distress.

So, if you are a procrastinator and want to change this behavior, work on time management along with regulating your emotions when under stress. Allow yourself to feel the anxiety of a task, but then work through it. In other words, expose yourself to that anxiety time and again until you are more comfortable sticking with the task. Practice pushing through anxiety and not avoiding.

If this feels daunting, work with a behavior therapist who can walk you through the process. With God’s help, you can tackle anything!

  1. Break down the task to small, doable parts. Then decide when and how long you will work on that task. Just start. This is key!
  2. Begin with an easy task. This will build momentum.
  3. Identify your excuses. When they come into your mind, label them as excuses!
  4. Focus on what it will feel like to finish instead of how good it feels to avoid. Tell yourself: Putting this off is just delaying the inevitable. Finishing will feel good!
  5. Have a few mini delays built into your time. Take a small break, answer an email and then get back to it. Teach yourself to return to the task at hand.
  6. Reward yourself for any part of the completion process. Whatever small step you accomplished, acknowledge it, and tell yourself, you can do this.
  7. Build in accountability. Report to someone.
  8. Don’t overthink the task. Just do it as Nike taught us!
  9. Work on the task each day. Putting the entire thing off is overwhelming and creates last minute anxiety that can be paralyzing.
  10. When you finish, remember what you did and practice it again and again. This builds mastery and changes your brain.

Spiritually, consider this accountability found in Hebrews 12:11. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” This verse reminds us that not all good things are pleasant to do, but part of our discipline to live a better life.

Overcoming procrastination