What Is The Cycle Of Procrastination And How To Break It In 4 Easy Steps

In your everyday life, how often do you find yourself procrastinating? You might be sitting at your desk, in front of your laptop trying to complete an important task. But, instead, you find yourself immersed in some fascinating article online or in the deep pit of watching cat videos. Next thing you know, it’s time to have a snack, feed your cat, and before you know it, it’s 10 pm and you’re yet to have completed any work.

Most of us go through this cycle every day in our life. At some point, the “procrastination cycle” becomes a part of our day to day life. We may procrastinate for various reasons. Sometimes, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact reason why one chooses to procrastinate. It can be a result of something related to your past, present, or future. At times, it can also be a result of biological factors. Whatever the reason may be, more often than not, most of us tend to follow a cycle in our daily life, where we procrastinate. The cycle begins the moment we decide to take on a task and in this case, it ends at not getting the task done.

The Vicious Cycle Of Procrastination

Before we learn different ways of dealing with the procrastination cycle, it is helpful to first understand how the cycle works. It’ll give you a better understanding of the various emotions you feel throughout the entire cycle and how it affects your mindset towards work.

All set to accomplish

At this stage, we decide to take on a particular task and are eager and energized to work on it. Here, you commit to getting something done or starting something new. You feel particularly confident and optimistic about getting everything done on your plate for the day!

Seeds of apprehension

Once this phase sets in, slowly little by little all the optimism you previously had started to fade away. You start to feel uneasy and delay starting the task. Feelings of apprehension set in. You begin to realize that, to get something done, you have to actually make the effort. Although, at this stage, there is still time to get to work, it’s not too late.

No action, but lots of distraction

A lot more time has passed, but you are yet to start working at the task at hand. Here, you find lots of excuses as to why you are yet to start working. You find yourself with a long list of tasks to do instead of actually finishing your assignment or starting a new project. You will spend time doing the laundry you had been ignoring all week, or decide to go on a walk with your dog. Although there is lingering panic at the back of your mind about finishing your work, you choose to ignore it.

Flicker of hope

You realize there is still hope, and you can still get the work done if you start right this second. The fact that there is only very little time left for you to get work done, gives you an adrenaline rush. It fills you with hope that you can still do this. At this moment, there’s lots of motivation in the air.

Hope fades

Unwillingly, the hope and motivation you just had, starts to fade away. Often, we start to doubt ourselves as to why we’re not able to focus on getting work done. It is common to feel discouraged and begin to wonder why you always end up putting yourself in similar situations. In such a scenario, you try to mask sense as to why this happens, but fail.

Vow to do better

Soon the anger and disappointment you feel towards yourself disappears and you most likely promise to yourself that you will not let this happen again. You vow that this is the last time you let procrastination get to you and make up your mind that this will not be the case next time.

Does this particular cycle of emotion and events sound familiar to you? Procrastination, if not dealt with in the right way can have some seriously detrimental effects. It’s important to know how to deal with such situations and ensure your productivity is not compromised.

4 Tips To Break The Procrastination Cycle

Work out why you’re procrastinating

Before you start to tackle the problem and put an end to it, you need to figure out the reasons behind your procrastination.

Figure out why you’re avoiding the task. Is it because you find that particular task boring or unpleasant? If that’s the case then you can take the steps to make the task more enjoyable for yourself. Sometimes people tend to push away from certain tasks due to the fear of failure. You may have doubts about your ability to succeed. Fear of failure is often the most common cause for why one delays a task. In such a case, you put the task off and focus on doing things you know you’re capable of completing.

More often than not, even perfectionists are procrastinators. The reason for this being that they doubt their capability and skills needed for succeeding at the particular task. As they’re not 100% sure about it, they tend to ignore it.

The reasons might vary from person to person but once you figure them out, it is much easier to come up with solutions.

Make a plan of action

Just merely making up your mind that you’re going to take up a new action/task today will not help. You need a plan and action to back this decision. If you set up a plan of action in place, it makes it much easier for your brain to adapt to the situation and get work done faster. Plus, setting a deadline surely helps!

So, the next time you’re about to start a new project/assignment, have a set plan of action. Take into consideration everything that you need to get done, the time period required to get the work done, and how you’d like to go about it. Once you have all of these figured, set up a plan of action.

Get rid of all distractions

You know your daily life cycle better than anyone else. So, it should be easy to figure out the patterns of distraction in your daily life. List out all the activities you tend to do when you procrastinate.

One of the major distractions we all face every day is the Internet. As much as it is a boon, it is also a bane. It is not surprising when instead of working or studying, you find yourself online shopping or bingeing youtube videos. In order to ensure better production, it is important to put a limit on these distractions. To ensure you spend less time browsing the internet, you can download a website blocker and block all the websites that you find particularly distracting. Having a website blocker like BlockerX on your phone/laptop, ensures that, anytime you’re about to procrastinate instead of working, your channels of procrastination aren’t available.

This way you can eliminate other distractions from your life as well!

Promise yourself a reward

As silly as the tip might sound to you, it truly does help. Promise yourself a reward if you complete a task as per the deadline. The reward can be simple little things that you enjoy in life, a slice of your favourite cake, two more episodes of your favourite anime, a coffee from your favorite coffee shop. This is important because it makes you notice how good it feels to get things done on time.

Although in the beginning you might start finishing your task for the treat at the end, soon you’ll pick up the habit of getting things done without the need for a bribe.

Just remember, change does not take place overnight. Give yourself time to adapt and pick up better habits along the way. All the tips mentioned above might not necessarily work for you, but figure out what does. Just because having a website blocker helps someone else be more productive, does not mean it’ll help you in the same way. Take the time to figure out what works best for you and use it to kick procrastination to the curb!

Hi there! I’m an experienced Psychotherapist based out of New York. Currently working on my PhD and on the hunt to find the best donut & coffee shop in the word