We all have a natural tendency to procrastinate. But while some people can accomplish their work with ease, others struggle to stay on top of their ever-growing to-do lists. And at the end of the day,  procrastinating results in unnecessary stress and tension.

The good news is, procrastination is a habit that you can change. To get started in overcoming those daunting, easily-avoidable tasks, consider the following 7 tips: 

Identify negative or unhelpful thoughts. If calling yourself a "lazy procrastinator" or a "failure," your first effort should be to drop the labels. So when you notice any negative thoughts or beliefs about your ability to get something done, practice self-compassion instead. Turn a thought like "I'm never going to get this done" into "I'm doing the best I can right now.”

Think "I get to do this" rather than "I have to do this." If we feel forced or pushed to do something, it's much easier to put it off. Similar to challenging self-defeating or negative thinking patterns, try to reframe the task as an opportunity rather than a chore.

Example:” I don’t have to wash the dishes today; I get to wash the dishes today." With time and repetition, you'll naturally start to view the chore as an excuse to take a break from work or listen to your favorite playlist. 

Start small. Thinking about all of the things you need to do can quickly become overwhelming- leading to more procrastination. If you don't know where to start, break things down into smaller, individual steps and write them down. Remember to consider how long it would take you to complete each step and cross it off once you’re done. Even the smallest of steps can feel rewarding!  


Consider the Zeigarnik Effect. If thoughts about an unfinished project have kept you up at night, you’ve probably experienced a psychological phenomenon known as the Zeigarnik Effect, or the natural tendency to remember incomplete tasks rather than the completed ones. The thoughts that constantly pop into your mind serve as reminders but also create mental tension. To put the Zeigarnik Effect to use, take the first step towards your goal, no matter how small. If you can begin focusing on something for just a few minutes, the brain's desire to complete it will take over. 

Discover your “peak times.” Tackle the most complicated tasks during your peak times. Everyone has different peak hours. Are you more productive in the mornings or the evenings? Figure out when you work and feel your best and tackle the most complicated tasks during those times. Not only will you improve your productivity, but you’ll save your energy for the things you want to do. 

Try a "power hour."  A power hour consists of putting away all distractions and working in parts of time (ex. 1 hour),  followed by short rest periods. Remember to balance focus time with relaxation for maximum efficiency.

Turn tedious tasks into appealing ones. Ask yourself, "How can I make this dreadful chore into something more enjoyable?" Whether you turn it into a competition with yourself or schedule time for a hobby afterward, there are various ways to trick your mind into believing something is more appealing than it is. Find what grabs your attention and utilize what strategy works best for you.

Breaking the procrastination habit isn't easy.

And while it might not be entirely avoidable, sometimes the most important thing you can do is get started.  Remember, every step you take is progress!