15 Simple Strategies To Help You STOP Procrastinating

It was a beautiful sunny day, several years ago, when a new client, Serena floated into my office. She had a buoyant energy and her smile lit up the room. She glided across the space and sat down in the chair, almost as if it had offered her a royal invitation.

I began, “It’s so nice to meet you, how can I help you today?”

Within in a split second her cheerful demeanor dramatically shifted, “I’m going to be fired, she blurted out. Then with mix of embarrassment and frustration, she added "I’m terrible at my job."

“Oh, I’m curious, what makes you so terrible at your job?” I asked gently

“I can’t ever get things done on time, I’m a chronic procrastinator.” she declared with absolutism. Then without skipping a beat, she named all the reasons why this was “terrible” and how it has “always” been a problem that she could “never” change. She wasn’t even sure why she was here, she was “unfixable”.

“Is that it?” I said smiling and then assured her I had never met anyone who was unfixable.  “I wonder, is there any part of your job that you are good at?”

Surprised by the question, she replied “Uh, I guess I’m good with people. I’m very  organized. I think the little work I do finish is good….at least that’s what they say”.

“Ahhh.” I responded, “So you actually aren’t terrible at your job, in fact, it sounds like you are good at it. You might just have a terrible habit, and that is definitely fixable.”

PROCRASTINATION. The act of delaying that which needs to be completed.

I think most of us have dealt with that challenge at some point. Even some animals like pigeons and monkeys have been found to procrastinate! (by the way, that isn’t meant to give you an extra excuse;-)

However, the danger, is that it can lead to damaging feelings of guilt, shame, and the belief that “we” are bad or incapable when really it is just what we are “doing.”

Great news…..drum roll…..there is a solution!

Piers Steel, PH.D. is one of the world’s leading researchers on the science of motivation and procrastination. After years of meta- analysis, he concluded there was a Procrastination Equation that consisted of 4 major components. By understanding what part(s) are driving our angst and delays, we are better able to overcome them.

The Procrastination Equation is:  Expectancy x Value/ Impulsiveness x Delay

Let’s break that down.

  • Expectancy – What outcome do you anticipate from the task at hand? How well do you believe you will be able to complete it? How well do you believe the completion of your task or creation will be received? If you expect great results, you are more likely to do the assignment right away. If you believe you won’t do well, you are more likely to procrastinate.
  • Value- How important is the task? What meaning does it have for you? For example, laundry isn’t super high value, unless you have a date and your favorite outfit is dirty.
  • Impulsiveness- Our tendency to do anything else but the task at hand usually for “immediate gratification”. Enter refrigerator instead of doing taxes.
  • Delay- If we have an immediate deadline, we are more likely to focus. If the end date is flexible or there is no penalty for not finishing right away, hello, distractions.

Bottom line: We want the top number, expectancy x value to be high and bottom number, impulsiveness x delay to be much lower.

If your stomach is knotting up because you are realizing that you struggle with all of these?? Fear not, below are 15 simple strategies to address different parts of the equation, so you can make it work for you instead of against you.

Expectancy: I have found this is the most common obstacle in the equation. People procrastinate when the results they expect are very low OR they are perfectionists and have already set themselves up to fail. (because they know, they will never be perfect.) Hmm does that sound like anyone you know? :-)

  1.  Decide to operate as if it will work out well. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s surprisingly overlooked. Making the conscious decision to choose believing in you instead of dismissing all you have to offer, is incredibly powerful and a lot more effective.
  2.  Ask yourself different questions? What if I knew the result would be great? What if I believed I was good enough for this task? What if it were easy?
  3.  Assess: What do I have? What skills, knowledge, experience, life history, prior wins, resources, time, etc. do I already have to apply to this project? This is part of my Moticise, Mindset Reset Process because it is HUGELY valuable. We always look at what we don’t have and yet you probably have all that you need right now!!!
  4.  Create tiny little tasks. Our brains can handle one small thing. And it feels so great to have that win. Each win also gives you the evidence that it’s possible and the confidence that you can do it. So, break each project down into bite size pieces. I like to start by assessing what I know and specifically what I might need help with. That counts as a step!
  5.  Visualize each tiny step along the way. Since our bodies don’t know the difference between what is imagined and what is real, visualizing each step working out the way we want, is like training for the victory.

Value: We all have things we have to do that we may not enjoy or expect to be wildly outstanding. So ideally center your life around things that do have more value and when necessary, try this:

  1.  Why is it important? Even mundane tasks like washing dishes have value. Connect to why it’s meaningful to you.
  2.  What will you gain by doing it? And what will you lose by not doing it? We are motivated by pleasure or pain, so by identifying these two things you will tap into one of your motivational force fields.
  3.  Do this exercise! Track, as in write down or type (don’t calculate it in your head-trust me, that won’t be accurate) every minute that you spend “thinking” about taking action, “working” on a task, but constantly getting diverted by something easier or worrying about what to say and do because you never completed the task.                                                                                                                                          It’s shocking how much time and energy is wasted on this whole unsatisfying process.


  1.  Work in 30–60-minute time blocks and only do the task at hand, nothing else.
  2.  Schedule the specific task you will do and double or triple the time you expect to realistically complete it- most things take longer than we plan.
  3.  Create a space without distractions- put your phone away, close doors, turn off notifications, etc.
  4.  Exercise…yes exercise will help get that anxious energy out of your system and increase your focus, creativity, and motivation- so many wins!


  1.  Get accountability- a coach, friend, or group- someone who will keep you honest and help you increase your expectancy.
  2.  Partner up – If you are feeling overwhelmed with something new or difficult, find someone else to work with…perhaps with complimentary skill sets.
  3.  Delay the distractions: Ask yourself: Does this need to be done? Does this need to be done now? Does this need to be done by me? And be honest…most texts, emails, snacks, don’t need to be done now….but your task or project does.

And then celebrate. Do a happy dance, sing, call a friend, give yourself a healthy reward. Do what it takes to make it fun, empowering and to highlight the fact that YOU CAN DO IT!

PS. My client Serena implemented these solutions. She particularly worked on scheduling time blocks, releasing perfectionism, and expecting greater results. I’m happy to say, she not only didn’t get fired, but 8 months later, she was promoted!!!

PPS. If YOU are struggling with procrastination and want to change this pattern once and for all. I have 2 spots open RIGHT NOW. If you want to identify the 3 things holding you back and the one thing that will move you forward, email[email protected] to get started!






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