How to Motivate Yourself to Overcome Procrastination

I have always been the opposite of a procrastinator. I always preferred to tackle first the least pleasant task and work on the most exciting the last. Just like eating the least favourite food on my plate first and leaving the tastiest part to last. But I see so many procrastinators around me that I wanted to explore this subject a little bit.

According to the Cambridge dictionary the verb to procrastinate means; to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.

We are talking about something that needs to be done sooner or later, most probably with a deadline. But you don’t want to do it. Because it is hard, or it requires going out of your way to accomplishing it. Maybe you need to ask for someone’s help to bring the job to its completion, or it is the first time you deal with the subject and not sure how to do it. These are all situations that move one out of their comfort zone with a deep feeling of uncertainty.

So many distractions

With the help of convenient distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. it is pretty easy to push out not only the unwanted tasks but all tasks that require attention. Though if you can be honest and admit that you are a procrastinator, be proactive and deal with it properly, the habit of procrastinating might get easier to handle.

Don’t beat yourself up

If you are mad at yourself because you are a procrastinator, Nic Voge, Senior Associate Director of Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning in New Jersey has good news for you. “Procrastination isn’t shameful. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s not a flaw,” he says. “It’s actually pretty predictable; it’s something we can really expect if we understand the dynamics of motivation”. Therefore; finding a way to motivate ourselves is the key to reaching the finish line within the time frame that the work must be completed.

And, you guessed right, I have a few tips on how to do that.

  • Motivate yourself by finding personal benefit, enjoyment, or significance in the task or activity you are supposed to work on.
  • Divide a big and uncomfortable task into smaller, attainable steps, and accordingly set more achievable and realistic goals. That would help you to see the whole task as a set of stairs that you can climb one step at a time.
  • Minimize distractions by removing your smartphone from your environment, or taking a break from checking your email while working on the task at hand.
  • Attach an incentive component to your goal. Reward yourself for a timely accomplishment. Maybe boosting your motivation could be easier than you think with a little gift to yourself.

You can do it

Accepting procrastination as a self-imposed condition is an important step towards changing this bad habit into a formula for success. Make your plan, follow it meticulously, and forgive yourself for small hiccups on the way. You will soon transform yourself from a procrastinator into a motivated and disciplined individual.


Ipek Williamson
Ipek Williamson
The knowledge and wisdom, that I’ve accumulated, transformed me into; an Insight Coach, a Blogger, and an Active “Listener” with an ear for anyone who needs to be heard, passion to help, anyone, and any relationship that needs healing and improvement. Especially the relationship with ones’ self. The person that I am today is also the product of my 20 years of experience as an Executive Assistant for the top managers of several companies. I am the culmination of life experiences as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and colleague. I am also an avid reader and a lifelong learner. Life takes us to places that we don’t expect to end up, but always with a purpose. Last few years, I have made my goal to make my life better, to become happier and healthier. That goal triggered a desire to learn and share anything and everything that helps to make others happy too. Life is beautiful, and we all deserve to live it to the fullest, that’s why I’m here, to touch the lives of as many people as possible, one beautiful soul at a time, and help them to become the best version of themselves

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  1. Great article Ipek – this is a challenge for most people and I agree it is not always negative. Adam Grant tells a story about some students who wanted him as both an adviser and investor in their new online business. Mr. Grant offered suggestions, but did not invest as he felt the students were procrastinating and not dedicated enough. That company turned out to be Warby Parker, which generated over $250M in revenue in 2019.

  2. Your first paragraph drew a laugh at the memory of our children’s expressions when, on a flight, my husband decreed that when everything was served at the same time, you could eat it in the order you pleased, and it pleased him to start with the dessert.

    On the more serious side, it may pay off to ponder a little about the emotions underlying the procrastination. Sometimes it is a big issue masking as something else.
    Are you always given the least interesting tasks while the team manager keeps the interesting bits for themselves?
    Is delaying a case of passive aggressive behavior and what is that then about?
    Are you afraid that if you do a really good job you will become too visible?
    Are you giving your self-esteem an “out” in case you really can’t do a good job and this way you give yourself the excuse that it was because it was rushed last minute?
    Do you disagree on the deadline and this is a systemic problem with those who set the deadlines?
    Are you often asked to do secret overtime with no payment?

    Procrastination rarely exists in a vacuum. So look around.

    • Charlotte, I love your contribution. Thank you for coming to the discussion with so many legitimate questions. I agree with you in looking underneath the result which is procrastination in this case, and finding out the real reasons of why it is happening. Why the person is refraining from starting the work, what is stopping them, what is the real reason? On a less serious note, I related to your husband’s behaviour of having desert before the main course. I did it many times in the past when I was in highschool. We would go have desert in a desert shop and then go to a restaurant and enjoy the savoury dishes. Didn’t do it last couple of decades but thank you for reminding it to me.

  3. Ipek, thank you for this, I agree, and as a writer, I recently have been procrastinating on my writings. I just keep saying, I will do it tomorrow. But I am getting better and more disciplined when it comes to writing. All other things I am pretty good about getting done.

    • Great to hear that you are quite conscientious about your procrastination, Lynn. It seems like you are taking action and getting better in managing it. Which is half the job anyway. Keep being vigilant and notice when it is in action. So that you can retaliate 🙂 Thank you very much for sharing.

  4. You are right. I always found that getting the worst chore (s) out of the way first thing each day makes the rest of the day more pleasant. If one has a detestable task hanging over the head all day the entire day is gray. It is like having a storm cloud following you around knowing that lightning will eventually strike.

    • Thank you, Ken, for your feedback. It is indeed like having a storm cloud following us around. That keeps nagging us in the back of our minds until the work is done and over. Great analogy.