Procrastination – How to Get Rid of It – an Efficient Motivational Method

Sometimes everyone puts tasks off for later, which can comfort us; the problem, begins, however, when putting things off is concerned with every task and starts to be chronic.


Let’s Begin with the Definition

Procrastination is a cluster of the Latin words “pro” – forward and “crastinate” – tomorrow. The simplest definition was given by Ferrari, J. R., Barnes, K. L., Steel, P. in 2009, which says that it is “the deliberate postponing of an intended activity”. The definition itself is general and does not include disease entities such as depression or situations when we avoid making a hasty decision or problems with alcohol. In 2012, the definition was extended by Ferrari J. R. and Pychyl as follows: “…the deliberate postponing of an intended activity when fulfilling given tasks despite foreseen negative consequences and a potentially worse result”. With time, the issue of procrastination was analyzed more deeply, which brought more definitions and criteria, which will not, nevertheless, be discussed in this article.

At this stage, it is worth remembering that there needs to be:

  • free choice– no external factor forces someone to do an activity,
  • activity – lingering is concerned with postponing specific activities,
  • consequences– the person postponing the task is aware that they may face consequences resulting from not engaging in the activity and does not care about it.

If you are still reading, this means two things – you are either writing your MA thesis and you need to copy a text 😉 or you yourself have a problem with postponing and motivation. I assume that your problem is not laziness, but that your form of postponing is benign, not pathological (you’re still here, which I already regard as a confirmation of the benign form ;)). If you belong to the second group (hmmm…you’re probably not reading this anymore :), i.e., e.g., despite bitter punishments, you still don’t undertake activities, I advise you to contact a psychologist, because working alone can be difficult.


Eat an Elephant – i.e. the Method of Small Steps

Ask yourself a question and answer it honestly. Are you not, by chance, putting off writing your MA thesis, starting your own business, learning English (insert your “elephant”), because the immensity of work is weighing you down and the mere thought of it that you need to do it causes that you no longer feel like doing it or you rather wash the windows (ladies), go for beer with your friends (gentlemen) and then when you go to bed, the following thought comes back to your mind like an echo: shit! I haven’t done anything again? So your procrastination is nothing else but the lack of a plan and motivation. Think about how large your “elephant” is, cut it up into slices and see where it ends. Hmmm…it starts with a trunk and ends with a tail and somewhere in-between there’s a huge body (for those who haven’t seen an elephant).


A Characteristic of the Trunk Is that It Has Small Pieces

Plan that in an hour you will go to your desk, start the computer, spread out your books and notes, turn off the sound in your phone and turn it face down so you don’t see the notifications. And that’s it…a small step…a very small step, I would say. How’s your brain? I don’t think there’s panic, you’re not putting anything off, because we really planned only very little.


Keep Your Finish on a Radar

Think about what will happen, how you will be feeling when you get to the end, to your dream goal.

If you have a task, write it out:

  1. It’s best to write down on a piece of paper what your goal is;
  2. …underneath, write down five things which motivate you to do the task.


This will help you understand why on earth you are doing it and get motivated to finish it.

  1. Under those five points, write down the first step which will get you closer to the goal.

The first step is the worst and then it goes on somehow.


An Example I Used in My Case

I want to speak German at the C2 level, because:

  • I will meet new people,
  • I will sign new agreements with contractors, because a richer vocabulary will affect my image,
  • I will feel better as a valuable and motivated person,
  • I will be able to read Rylke in the original version,
  • by knowing another language at the C2 level, I will make my life easier on vacation.


My first step:

I will install a programme for learning words, i.e. (in my case) “Memrise”, which my friend had recommended to me, I will set myself the task of learning 5 words each day and I will schedule the time of the reminder about revising in the programme.


What Is Happening in My Head?

Pleasant tickling and I don’t feel like putting this off at all. Why? Because the task is not big; finding the application on my phone took me literally a moment, so did logging on and it turned out that the function for learning 5 words daily was set automatically. I found the time when I’m supposed to have the reminder in the functions of the application. Ready.

And what do you think? Don’t I feel like learning these words after doing the task? Do I want to put it off? Of course not, because it’s only 5 words, after all, so I didn’t linger anymore. My first piece of the elephant had been devoured, my brain had been tickled, because it had worked and I don’t feel pain that I had put something off AGAIN and the thought that I need to learn only 5 words tomorrow does not weigh me down at all.


What Other Advice Can I Give You?

If you still feel like reading, which I regard as a great success – it’s great that you stayed with me – I advise you to look for an application for planning, to read about the SMART or Pomodoro method. These are efficient methods, which I tried out myself and which help in the total elimination of procrastination from your life. I wish you luck with your plans, but…but now stop whining and take a piece of paper and something to write, write down today’s date (I already said…stop whining, after all, it will take only a moment ;)) and get to work. I believe in you J

And what are your methods of getting motivated to act?

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