THE BLOG
01/27/2016 12:36 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2017

Here's the Best Way to Solve the Procrastination Problem

We have all put things off at some point in our lives. I work with clients whose procrastination varies from mild to severe, and as their life coach it is my job to help them overcome that. I can also tell you that I personally procrastinate every few days at least. I'm acutely aware of this because I keep an organized to-do list, and whenever a lower priority items comes up that I just don't feel like doing, I'm tempted to move it to the next day's list.

I'm the first to say that there is no harm in delaying non-critical tasks. It's when there are hard deadlines and pressing obligations involved that procrastination becomes a big problem. Paying bills, work projects, health issues and so on are challenging to tackle but unfortunately they must be dealt with.

You might expect me to say that the best way to solve this problem is to suck it up and just do it. And although that is the ultimate outcome, it would be unhelpful for me to unload a demand on you that you've probably already told yourself and others have told you. So...

The best way to fix your procrastination problem is to address the root of what is preventing you from moving forward with the task. By doing this, you will ease anxiety and stress in addition to gaining a better sense of control. This is particularly beneficial if you're dealing with repetitive burdens such as paying bills, leaving for work on time, doing homework and more.

As a coach, my go-to culprit for placing the blame of setbacks is fear. Fear of change, failure, and success are the big ones, and other fears could come to the surface too. Why look at fear when it comes to mundane tasks or unpleasant chores? It's because fear can stop us in our tracks and will often show up in the form of procrastination. For example, constantly putting off your diet that starts 'tomorrow' could be due to fear of failure or feeling inadequate. By facing your concerns, you can deal with them in a way that's beneficial for you; thus, giving you a better sense of control.

You can find out if postponing things is caused by something deeper simply by asking yourself: Is there something more here? Perhaps you are afraid or concerned about other negative feelings or experiences. A quick check-in to find out where the delay is coming from and acknowledging what you come up with will help you get more clarity and move forward.

Checking in with yourself to address the root of the delay is the best way to fix the procrastination problem. Sometimes there is not much of an issue other than the project just sucks and you don't want to do it. Like cleaning a toilet, for example. How do you get motivated when you don't have much interest in doing it? Here's what I do: determine if the task is an obligation, how badly you want it, and how you will feel once it's accomplished. This will help weed out if it's even worth keeping on your "to-do" list. If it is worth doing, re-evaluating the importance and outcome will inspire you to take that next step!