Ex-chronic procrastinators: how did you break your procrastination habit?

Hannah S Kim
43 replies
This seems to be an issue that many struggle with, for various reasons, ranging from the anxiety of starting, too many distractions, perfectionism, etc…. I used to procrastinate in school, but have realized that this habit still chases me at times as a working professional (meaning the consequences are heavier). Would really appreciate your feedback!


Jason Martin
Don't look for "one" solution, there isn't one. Try and identify why you are doing it, dig in deep into the question. Identify all the excuses for not doing stuff and systematically fix them. Form new habits and break old ones. Your solution will be different from others, find what works for you. In short, read "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, build a system that works for you. Hope it helps.
Katya Veremeichik
I personally just stopped fighting it. Procrastination is a way of our brain to tell us something. Instead, I started thinking critically - why am I procrastinating? Answering this question turned out to be harder than i thought. Top answer was "Because i don't want to do that at all". Next question - why don't I want to do that? I lack competence, I have things with higher priorities, I am scared to fail, I think it's pointless etc. And each answer has a solution. As a result, I now don't start a task unless I'm completely sure it's what i need to be spending my time on right now. Works for me:)
Dhiksha Venkatesan
@katyaveremeichik This is such a great answer ! It is sometimes difficult to look past the negative connotation attached to something instead of discovering why we feel the way we do.
Peter van Teeseling
@katyaveremeichik great write up - similar to Tim Urban in this TED talk https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_ur...
Eddie H.
@katyaveremeichik @pvantees Thanks for sharing this video. Watching it right now.
James Gil
I think in school, many of us procrastinate because of unclear objectives. Not many students are clear as to what they want to do in the future and what objectives (short-term and long-term) they'd like to achieve. Personally, I've broken out of my procrastination habit once I started working and had a career that I really like and was good at. I finally knew what I wanted to do in the long run and what goals I wanted to see realized.
Roman Velitskiy
@james_gil That's right on point. Procrastination comes from the lack of motivation, and that comes from not seeing clearly the personal benefit of the work you have to do.
Hannah S Kim
@james_gil I agree, James. Although there are many reasons why people procrastinate, one is definitely lacking a clear purpose in your life.
Nathan Svirsky
BITE SIZE CHUNKS Don't try and do everything in a day - instead understand that small, bite-sized tasks done on a consistent basis will lead to better progress. This peace of mind massively reduces the pressure you put on yourself, which lead to procrastination. That alone is enough of a reward for me, but for some, you may actually want to reward yourself with something physical. If you look through my comment history you'll see I'm a big advocate of Pomodoro Time in measuring these bite-size tasks. You'll be amazed how much you can get done in 30mins if you stop f**king around and just focus.
Hannah S Kim
@nathansvirsky Thanks for the comment, Nathan. The Pomodoro defnitely works- there was a time when I was intimidated by 25-30 min work sessions, so I would set my timer for a 5 min mini work session, and that worked great as well!
Nathan Svirsky
@hannahsuyun Absolutely! It's all about allowing yourself to enter deep work mode - doesn't matter how long for. Once you see how much you can do it starts to get fun!
Roman Mish
Procrastination is a part of how our brain works, but there are many different types of procrastination and some of them are good and some bad. So it's important to proactively procrastinate like take a walk, brew a cup of coffee, read a book (when you should be working), even watch something valuable on youtube. To be in control of your procrastination the single best thing to do is to schedule it. Yes, really block 15-25 min every 2 hours to do nothing. It will help you concentrate and actually tell your brain to hold on a little more in anticipation of that procrastination break. I've researched a s*it ton of studies, best practices, tips, techniques while I'm building timeos.co and found that purposefully scheduling procrastination time and actually defining how you will procrastinate is a key for productivity and focused work.
Hannah S Kim
@roman_mishiev Roman, awesome advice! Never thought about actually scheduling my procrastination sessions- will try it out soon.
Rikki Hillenbrand
I used to be THE master of procrastination! It was really hard to break this habit, I am not gonna lie. But here is my recipe to success: Reward over Punishment! (Just like dog-training 🐶) I started creating some kind of reward system for myself for getting things done to iterate that thrill and excitement after ticking a box in time! Step 1: Create time-bound check-lists ✅ ⏰ Step 2: Think of rewards that get you excited and going. (chocolate-tart, buying a new plant, a little dance party, etc. – whatever works for you 😉) Step 3: Actually reward yourself when getting something done in time and somewhat dwell in this thrilling sensation (yes, I was over-doing this big time in the beginning). 💃 Step 4: Reflect on these moments at the end of every day! 🌟 After a while, I felt the motivation to get things done right away, rooting from wanting to feel awesome and accomplished! Maybe this will help you, maybe it will inspire you to find your own recipe, maybe it won't do anything for you. No matter what – good luck! 🍀
Hannah S Kim
@rikki Thanks for the uplifting comment, Rikki! Reminds me of this TED talk I watched awhile ago:
Jeff Noël
Acting. Seriously, it might sound dumb, but waking up in the morning with a goal to get done TODAY changed a lot of things.
As stated elsewhere, each cause for procrastination has its own response. First forgive yourself for being human, then identify the types or triggers of procrastination and the lie behind each. As an ADHD person, at times I need the deadline rush to trigger my hyper-focus rather than muddling along (for whatever reason). Having too much to do creates its own sort of procrastination out of necessity. Here's the advice I give new founders, whether you use a notepad or a project management tool, restrain yourself to 1-3 MUST DO items for the day in your ToDone List, track all the things you do (each serves as an interruption or distraction from your MUST DO; include mental, physical and emotional health issues if these are blockers). If you knock out your MUST DOs you can start on tomorrow's (have a plan for attack, rough approach) then knock out something from your backlog of tasks. In a matter of days you'll identify the patterns that drive your avoidance and productivity. Then find the lie that you're telling yourself that undermines what you intended to do, call it out, and reshape it into something truthful that empowers you to take action.
Paul Rusyn
Interest Ask. Well, all people are lazy, but some are lazy in a good way, and some in a bad way. What is good laziness? Better to explain with an example. And so, I am a certain marketer who was given the task of launching an advertising campaign and I have a month to prepare and it is paid for. A good marketer with good laziness can prepare everything in half a month and do it efficiently so as not to spend half a month on edits. This is what good laziness is, when you are trying to make a high-quality product in real time, so that later it will be corrected and fixed less, and instead, good laziness allows you to cope with everything efficiently and quickly, and then just relax. High!
Hannah S Kim
@pavell2l This is an interesting perspective, Pavel! I guess in a way good laziness= being strategic and efficient haha.
Mars H
Healthy habits make a healthy life. This is obvious, but what I mean is that if you manage other issues that are easier to tackle for you personally, the rest will follow. I've never been as productive as I am when I keep on top of my healthy habits. I think the bad procrastination comes from your brain not working at it's maximum potential, and as the saying goes 'mente sana in corpore sano.'
Vineet Sinha
Atomic Habits covers how to break out of this. But yes, small bites, asking "why" etc are key
Ken Savage
I went broke. I got kicked out of my house and lived in my car for a couple of days. Then bounced around a little while on peoples couches and spare rooms until I could get a job temporarily. After a few weeks I decided to pick up things and work on my side project and take it more seriously. About a month later I started gaining some traction I am built it to a couple thousand dollars per month recurring revenue. Between that and the “temp job” I was able to dig myself out after about a year. Humiliation and hunger broke my procrastination. Hopefully that small little lesson can help somebody else ❤️
Adam Knight
Obviously there can be a multitude of mitigating circumstances for a single answer. But I find starting with small achievable tasks (whatever they are) early in the day and once I've done 3-4 of those (can be as small as unloading dishwasher, tidy desk drawer, answer one email) then all of a sudden the big things I was struggling to get on to just seem a lot more doable. Also having big things broken down in to lots of little things is important. I also start talking to someone else about the thing I need to get done and I find that shared perception of me 'just not getting on with it' seems to get things moving. I think everyone can and does procrastinate, I also know a lot of people who are chronically organised and not very productive. Swings and roundabouts.
Jesse Jensen
I scheduled to put procrastination off for tomorrow. Let's see what happens.
Gianni D'Alerta
Don't wait for perfect. Your version of perfect is not someone else's version of perfect. Done is better than perfect. Break the items down. I get overwhelmed with my ideas, I try to break it down into the smallest chunk and then accomplish that. Small mini-goals. Create good habits. Look up Tiny Habits by Fogg, changed my life.
Aniruddha Ingle
Google Calendar, Keep Notes, and Endorphins (Going on Runs)
Sherry Chu
Imagine a sense of accomplishment for accomplishing each task. 💪 Then feel charged up to do the next.
Reema Maarouf
Just do it. The how what, where, and why will come as soon as you start. Create realistic expectations for how long it will take you to complete a task and make use out of every minute. Also, find a "favorite way" of measuring progress, then take a look at it at the end of the day. Look forward to that moment.
Jack Rocco Marchese
Just being very excited about what you're doing/making is what did it for me! I know that's oversimplified haha.
A couple things worked for me. 1) I create short time boxed windows for doing work. Even 15 min is enough. Then 2) create specific tasks to do the things you use for procrastinating and time box them too. E.g. '20 facebook/instagram surfing'. '15 min bathroom cleanup' -- I tend to 'clean' my apartment whenever i procrastinate! so I basically let myself oscillate between time boxed activities of procrastination and real work. Eventually I get into a zone of real work, and keep going.