Chronic Procrastination – How To Cure it and Get on With Your Life!

It’s October 15th, and your taxes must be filed by midnight tonight. You are finally just starting on them and thinking that maybe you will just file for an extension. You just haven’t had “time” to get them done. But here’s the thing: We always find the time to do those things we really want to do. And we are always too “busy” or still “thinking” when big decisions and actions must be taken that we really don’t want to make or do. This is called procrastination.

Intermittent or Chronic Procrastinator?

If putting off your taxes until the last minute is the only example of procrastination in your life, you are pretty normal. You might also put off things like cleaning out the garage or getting that oil change. But 20% of the U.S. population is comprised of chronic procrastinators – people who constantly put off making important life decisions and taking important action to move forward with their lives. These are the people who miss great opportunities and rewards because they cannot make decisions and get into “action mode” – both in their personal and their professional lives.

Chronic Procrastination is a Lifestyle of Sorts

Our lifestyles are determined by patterns of behavior that we have established over time. And the “procrastination” lifestyle is no different. Chronic procrastinators delay and “put off” until decisions are made for them, either by other people or by circumstances, and then they feel some relief because the burden has been lifted from them. They actually make life decisions every day – the decision not to act at all. And, usually, this decision is made out of insecurity or fear.

Reasons for Procrastination

There are 4 classic reasons for chronic procrastination:

  1. Fear of Failure
  2. Insistence upon perfection
  3. Defiance
  4. Thrill of the risk of doing things at the last minute (e.g. taxes)

Fear of Failure: When there is a strong aversion to failing, people will keep themselves busy with small tasks so that they can justify not getting to the big decisions and actions. This keeps them in a “safe place,” but it also means that a productive and fulfilling life is sacrificed.

Insistence upon Perfection: There is always some more research to be done; there is always the need to look at other options. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook has a great saying, “Done is better than perfection,” and she is right.

Defiance: it may be a leftover from growing up in a dictatorial household, but many people procrastinate because they simply say, “No one can tell me what to do and when to do it!” Unfortunately that defiance, often manifested as passive-aggression hurts no one but the defiant one.

Thrill of the Risk: It is fine to state that you work better and make better decisions when the pressure is on, but the negative aspect of this is that someone else may step in, make the decision for you, and then you have to live with it.

Curing Chronic Indecision/Procrastination

There are both practical everyday “fixes” for indecision or procrastination and more long-term permanent cures. And if you are a chronic procrastinator you need to do both, for the short, temporary benefits and for a more permanent cure.

Short-Term Fixes

There are things that you can do today, right now, to reduce your indecision and procrastination.

  1. Nag Yourself: You have been offered a promotion that involves a move to another city. You have been given 30 days to make this decision, and you have avoided making it, perhaps out of fear of the unknown. The deadline is approaching, and you are stalled. Start making notes to yourself all over the place – on your bathroom mirror, on your coffee pot, on your desktop, on your pillow – keep nagging yourself until you finally get moving on making that decision. Those notes should say things like, “make a list of pros and cons of this move,” or “research the city and find out more about it.” Don’t stop nagging yourself until you have taken action toward that decision.
  2. Think of Alternative Tasks that are More Dis-Tasteful: You have a huge report to produce. You can’t get started because you are worried that it won’t be perfect and others may find fault with it. What is the alternative today? You could go down to that horrible place – the garage – and spend several ours getting dirty by cleaning it out, or you could dig in, get the report finished as best you can – remember – “done is better than perfect.” And people are counting on you.
  3. Divide up a Large Task into Smaller Pieces: Here’s a simple example. You need to clean your house, so on your “to-do” list is the item, “clean the house.” Instead of that, break it down into several items – vacuum, dust, kitchen floor, bathroom, etc. As you complete each smaller task, cross it off and feel really good about that. Each cross-off will be a reward and will motivate you to move on.

The More Permanent Cure – Changing Your Blueprint

We all have two “minds” – our conscious and our subconscious. Our conscious minds are based in the reality of today. Our subconscious minds are based upon all of the experiences and thoughts that we have programmed in there over our lifetimes. So, if our thoughts have been that we can never be wealthy, that we can never have a wildly successful career or relationship, then when opportunities for these things present themselves, our subconscious minds will force us to stop, to procrastinate, to fail to make decisions that would move us in those directions. Here’s a simple example: You are overweight; you don’t diet or you quit a diet and exercise program mid-way because your subconscious is telling you that the dominant thought is that everyone in your family is overweight and so you should be as well.

Re-Programming is Hard and Long-Term: You have to change your conscious thoughts, because they are what keep programming your subconscious. You need to replace all of the “bad” stuff with the “good.”

Start by making a list of all of the things you intend to do and become. Read this list out loud to yourself, with conviction, at least twice a day. Tackle some tasks and decision that you have been avoiding; when you have been successful, add those successes to your list and repeat them out loud as well.

Procrastination is a killer of opportunities and dreams. Get yourself off of that treadmill and onto a real path that keeps moving your forward.

I’m a passionate traveler, writer, blogger and educator. Working as a consultant I am trying to help people become successful and find internal balance. Currently, I work for a new project – GetAcademicHelp. Get in touch with me via social media.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

33 Responses to Chronic Procrastination – How To Cure it and Get on With Your Life!

  1. In this form of procrastination, the problem has become a generalized habitual self-destructive pattern. Putting tasks off has become a core habit. The chronic procrastinator cannot get anything accomplished on time, resulting in serious career struggles, persistent financial problems, and a diminished quality of life.

  2. True story, which really touched my feelings.

  3. flappybird says:

    Let me take a nap… great experience, anyway.

  4. Mission accomplished. It’s incredible 🙂

  5. Good post really interesting to read. Thank you very much for your work .

  6. Mission accomplished. It’s elegant, friend.

  7. Avatar, typography, shot, colours – slick 🙂

  8. I’m disagree with couple of facts but in general nice article thanks.

  9. Nice article need more like this one. Thank you for your work 🙂

  10. Henry says:

    I can drive 10 miles, walk 50 feet. Turn around and before I know it, I’d be back home. Or would I? I’m not sure but that’s just how it is.

  11. Arman says:

    I saw six men kicking and punching the mother-in-law. My neighbor said “Are you going to help?” I said, “No, Six should be enough.”

  12. So there was no happy end in GOT after all, I still liked it = D

  13. Thanks for the amazing post, I think fear of failure is main reason procrastination.

  14. earntodiepro says:

    You made my day, thank you so much for it, I laughed so hard that I almost pissed myself : D

  15. Jane says:

    Got it, I finally figured out what your post was all about, thank you.

  16. Thomas J. says:

    Part of me is happy that it all ended, but part of me is scared, because future is unclear.

  17. Motivation says:

    I have lost so much due to my fear of failure, due to my fear of rejections, etc. I lost so much….

  18. I just can’t overcome my fears no matter what. I know that it kills my future, my perspectives but sadly fear is stronger than me.

  19. Fiona says:

    It is always easy to type: “get motivated” or “be inspired” or “you can do it”, but in real life, things don’t work this way, it is a lot harder.

  20. Life game says:

    I don’t have negative thoughts simply because I have no time for them. I work really hard, I get tired a lot and I have good sleep after a long day. A lot of free time can cause depressions, I think.

  21. Real issue is lack of motivation, we don’t know where we are going and we don’t know what we want.

  22. Texttwist2 says:

    I remember people saying, that Heath Ledger would be bad as Joker, where are they now?

  23. Thanks for the fantastic post really enjoyed reading it.

  24. Tank Life says:

    Some people never change, same old mistakes, same old mind-set and same old interests.

  25. Pro Tank says:

    Can you guys bring updates more often, like a couple of times per week would be awesome?

  26. It is really important to stay motivated, don’t stop your progress and move forward. This is exactly how I was able to force myself to learn English.

  27. Gatsby says:

    Yeah, sometimes making decisions is not really that easy…

  28. Geek says:

    How to fight depression you ask? Well, I just walk in the woods for it, no meds nothing, just ordinary walk in the woods.

  29. Natsu says:

    I had high hopes for this new crypto coins, I even invested in it, but price fell dramatically…

  30. Fiona says:

    Bruh memes are so funny, watched like hundreds of bruh memes. Can’t get enough.

  31. So any theories what One Piece can actually be? Some say that it is information, information about the world, sounds so mysterious and interesting right?

  32. Searching for solutions, still no progress so far, maybe we made mistake and we are not aware of it yet?

  33. One way or another your article is going to be awesome, I am pretty sure about it, but here is a question: how much time it will take you?

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