When you’ve got a long to-do list, yet a much shorter attention span, it’s far too easy to get lazy. Social media, game consoles, and Netflix take over, and your productivity takes a back seat. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to learn how to stop procrastinating.


What is procrastination?

A man staring at his phone, bored.
Photo by Siavash Ghanbari on Unsplash

“Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline. It could be further stated as a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences”.

It seems like the word procrastinating only becomes available when you hit 18+. Replacing the easier days of ‘teenagers are lazy, it’s normal’,  is the need to achieve something with your time. Whether that be university-related, or putting off finding work, procrastination is more common in people 29 years old and below, but when you’re younger and starting out, it’s important to use your time well.

The biggest issue is that you ‘know’ what it will lead to. The above ‘negative consequences’ are visible already, yet you choose to ignore them for the easy route out. The route of no challenge, no accomplishment, and series 86 of your favourite show on Netflix. Your life will be worse by not doing, yet you choose to do that regardless.

If you smash your goals early and get ahead of what you need to do, you’ll find that you’re less stressed, achieving more, and still have a good amount of time after to do whatever you want. If you balance that against feeling rubbish in the long run, there’s only one winner.

So if you’re asking how to stop procrastinating, we’ve put an 8 step action plan below.


Make Goals

A goals diary to help you stop procreastinating.
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

How do you know what you want to achieve, or what you’ve already done, without clear goals? 

By setting clear SMART goals, you’ll have something tangible to work towards, whilst also providing a good roadmap to if you’re on course or if you’re falling behind. 

Without goals, tasks will always be set to “oh I’ll do it tomorrow.”


Chunk it down

A notepad with goals written down.
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If you’ve got a big task, it can seem daunting. 

Chunk tasks down into more manageable pieces. A dissertation isn’t written in one go, you work on smaller, more manageable pieces until it all clicks together into one final piece. 

Smaller tasks make the overall goal much more manageable, and a little less scary.


Create a routine

A person being creative during their daily routine, with coffee and a sketchpad on the table.
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Routine is vital.

Without it, you’ll drift through days without anything to anchor you down. Motivation comes and goes, so if you rely on it to get stuff done, you’ll find yourself falling behind. 

Rely on habit, as then you’ll get stuff done whether you want to or not.


Set deadlines

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Put pressure on yourself.

If you want to know how to stop procrastinating, you need to know it’s not easy. Laziness is the easy route out, whereas having time pressure will ensure you begin to put in the correct effort. Make sure you create a timescale not only for your main goal but for each of the small objectives too. 

You may think it’s okay if you miss the odd deadline, but it all adds up.


Get rid of distractions

Multiple people checking their phone.
Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

Yes, we’re looking at you, social media.

Drop the phone, lock it away where you can’t access it, or if you really need it, delete the apps. Like when chocolate is in the fridge and impossible to ignore, the endless scroll of social media will pull you back to it. 

Don’t allow yourself to be swayed until you’ve achieved what you want to achieve.


Get out of your room

A journal and mug on a sofa.
Credit: Carolyn V, Unsplash.

Working in your room means the bed is right there. 

It’s so easy to “lay down for 10 minutes”, to then wake up two hours later disoriented and further away from your goal. Go to the living room, library, or local coffee shop. 

The environment you work in holds a lot of influence, so choose it well.


Take responsibility

A coffee cup with the word 'begin' on the front.
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Accept the fact it’s on you. 

Everyone has their own stuff going on and they don’t care if you do what you need to or not. The only person that will be affected by you not doing it, is you. If you want to know how to stop procrastinating, the real answer to everything above is to take responsibility and take action. 

Get moving and get doing.


Reassess and reward yourself

Three university friends laughing.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The above isn’t easy, so don’t be scared to reward yourself for doing well. 

If you were wondering how to stop procrastinating and took action to address it, you deserve a pat on the back. Whether that’s an hour on your phone or Xbox, or a night out with your mates, do it. 

Just make sure you save it for a time when you’ve actually achieved something, and not instead of it.


Action is how to stop procrastinating. 

You have to ‘do’. Breaking bad habits and laziness is tough, but the sense of achievement you get when you accomplish something, especially despite the fact you were feeling lazy, is great. It’s not about completely getting rid of your chill time, but earning it instead. 

Once you do, it feels all the sweeter, and your goals that one step closer.


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