To Do list: Procrastinate

7 ways to stop procrastinating on your business ideas

You glance up from your phone to realize that time has slipped by and your task remains unfinished.

You put the phone down only to pick it up again since you originally wanted to see the time.

One hour passed. That’s procrastination; it’s a sneaky thief that steals our time.

You know what needs to be done, but something inside holds you back. It feels like an invisible wall between your intentions and actions. Sounds familiar?

All of us have experienced the habit of procrastination. Many of us feel guilt, shame, or embarrassment that we can’t seem to manage our willpower.

But the procrastination problem isn’t one of willpower but emotional regulation and how we train ourselves to take action.

In this article, we’ll explore the hidden forces behind procrastination – examining its origins, consequences on our mental and physical well-being, plus some actionable methods to overcome it.

We’ll delve into strategies like time boxing, micro-tasking, body doubling, and even rewarding ourselves!

Man clutching his head while wishing to stop procrastinating

Ready to stop procrastinating? Let’s break free from the chains of delay together!

The Psychology Behind Procrastination

Beneath the surface, procrastination is rooted in psychological issues that make us avoid doing the task to avoid negative experiences. Emotions can range from impatient to trepidation, boredom to outright resentment.

Emotional Regulation

Procrastination is the result of a natural behavior of avoiding unpleasant feelings. We push the tasks off for our future selves to complete often under the pressure of a looming deadline.

Lack of Confidence

Low confidence and self-worth can contribute to task avoidance. Rather than risk embarrassment or shame of poor performance, we stay in our comfort zone as long as possible. If you’re interested in learning more about gaining confidence, I wrote about it here.

Immediate Gratification Bias

There’s also the issue of immediate gratification bias, where we are more likely to choose quick rewards at the cost of future gains. For example, if someone offered to pay you $9 today or $10 tomorrow, you’d likely take the $9 today. However, if you were offered $9 in hundred days or $10 in hundred and one days you’d switch to the ten dollars.

Separation From Future Self

Not to mention we think of our future self as a different person. Hal Hershfield researched how we process the present and future selves with different parts of our brain.

Hal ran a study where people were more likely to save if they were shown images of themselves digitally altered to appear older. The harder it is to relate to future selves the more likely we procrastinate.


Another factor is some of our brains have developed differently, people with neurodivergent brains such as  ADHD, OCD, and Autism can face more difficulties with attention and emotional regulation.

Research by Psychological Science estimates that 20% of adults suffer from chronic procrastination.

Here’s the deal: Our brains prioritize instant gratification over long-term rewards during these moments. So our prefrontal cortex – responsible for self-control – gets overpowered by our limbic system craving immediate pleasure.

Laziness vs Procrastination: A Crucial Difference

Laziness and procrastination often get used interchangeably, but they’re fundamentally distinct concepts at their core. Laziness refers to an unwillingness or lack of desire to work, while procrastinating means actively avoiding specific tasks despite knowing their negative implications on your goals or deadlines.

Think of it this way: A lazy person doesn’t want to work because they don’t find value in it; whereas a procrastinator wants to accomplish tasks but struggles to overcome internal barriers.

Key Takeaway: 

Procrastination isn’t merely laziness, but a complex psychological behavior rooted in emotional regulation. Unlike laziness – an unwillingness to work, procrastination is the act of dodging tasks despite knowing their importance.

How to Stop Procrastinating Now

So how do we avoid procrastinating? The internet is full of generic advice in procrastination articles such as creating lists, ranking priorities, setting deadlines, boosting motivation, and goal setting. The problem with these common strategies is that it doesn’t get to the root of the psychological behavior.

To eliminate procrastination it’s important to look at a more complete picture rather than just task management. Productivity app, IDoneThis found that 41% of tasks were never finished.

Here are some techniques you may have never heard of in the context of when they work best.


Procrastination is an emotional regulation problem first and foremost. To manage it the best and fastest way is to be aware of your emotions and to process them.

How it works:

Mindfulness is a fancy word for paying attention to your body. The simplest way to get started is to ignore everything and focus on your breath. Once you can consistently be aware of your breathing without controlling it for 10 seconds, you can start expanding to other parts of the body. Remember emotions are feelings and feelings are physical symptoms we assign meaning to.

When to use it:

When you sense you have underlying emotions preventing you from overcoming procrastination. Beating yourself up rarely works to motivate yourself. Develop self-compassion so you’re more likely to keep trying to beat procrastination.

The 5-Second Rule

Sometimes we overlook the most obvious answers because they’re right in front of us. Mel Robbins has helped thousands of people overcome procrastination using this technique.

The 5-second rule works because it forces us to move before our brain can start hurling emotional reasons on why not to do the task.

How it works:

The next time you need to accomplish a task, count backward from 5. You have until you reach zero to start the task or else your brain will build a brick wall of emotion and you’ll be doom-scrolling on your favorite app.

When to use it:

This technique is great when are having trouble starting and have a clear idea of how to do the task. Things like editing videos, articles, or podcasts that tend to be tedious but not actually that bad when you are working.


If you’re a working professional looking to start your own business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not having free time. The few moments of free time you do have are spent recovering after a long day at work. However, with a strategy called ‘time boxing’, you could make your work more manageable and make the time to launch your startup.

How it works:

Timeboxing, in its simplest form, is dedicating a fixed amount of time to an activity or task before moving on to something else. This technique helps break down large tasks into manageable chunks while ensuring that you don’t spend too much time on one thing.

The rule about time boxing is when the time is up, the task ends and is closed. You move on to the next task without adding more time even if incomplete.

When to use it:

When fighting perfectionism you find yourself fiddling too long on one task. We put off making tangible progress because we’re not done getting the landing page colors just right or this email copy must be perfect for our subscribers.

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique, invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, is a simple yet effective tool for boosting productivity. It involves breaking down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes long, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as ‘Pomodoros’, Italian for tomatoes—inspired by Cirillo’s tomato-shaped kitchen timer.

How it works:

This technique works on two principles – timeboxing and rest periods. Timeboxing helps focus on one task at a time, reducing distractions and making tasks manageable while rest periods provide mental refreshment leading to sustained concentration over longer durations.

Pick a time increment from 10-40 minutes with 5-minute breaks in between. Work for the short sprint, take a break, and then jump back in.

When to use it:

When you’re giving up a few minutes into a task. Our monkey brain seeks out the smallest obstacle and will make a mountain out of a molehill. If you’re feeling the urge to quit in the middle of a task, this technique will help because you’re only working for 10 minutes at a time.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

One common pitfall is to skip breaks or work through them. Remember, the break time is an integral part of this technique’s success. It allows your brain to rest and recharge before diving into another intense focus session.

Another trap is allowing interruptions during a Pomodoro session. If an interruption occurs, either end the session there or postpone the distraction until your current Pomodoro finishes.


Micro-tasking involves breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable parts. This method makes daunting projects seem less overwhelming and more achievable. Everyone can break big projects into smaller tasks but sometimes getting started on those tasks is still too emotionally hard. Micro-tasking is the next level down.

How it works:

Break down tasks into smaller components until they’re small enough to feel effortless. For example, writing a 3000-word blog post would be broken down into, opening a text editor, writing a title, the first word, or half an outline. The more you can recognize these small actions, the more you can start building momentum. No micro-success is too small to be noticed and appreciated.

When to use it:

When you know what you need to do but feel drained or exhausted. One common symptom of procrastination is emotionally driven fatigue. You’re not physically tired, your body is tricking you into thinking you don’t have the energy to do the task.

The journey from ideation to scaling a business is not an overnight process; it involves many steps that require patience, persistence, and consistent effort.

Setting Milestones

Rather than set goals, set milestones. Goals are forward-looking achievements, once achieved they’re obsolete. Milestones are markers of your progress to stop appreciating how far you’ve come.

How it works:

Select regular measurements to mark progress, it could be the number of posts created or outreaches. When you hit your first sale, your first $1000, quitting your job to go full time, for example, take a moment to sit and look back at how much work you’ve done just to get here.

When to use it:

When you’re procrastinating due to comparing yourself to others. It’s hard to avoid social media’s constant barrage of people who seemingly are doing everything better than you.

Body Doubling

This approach creates accountability and encourages consistency, which are crucial factors when implementing startup strategies such as prototyping or marketing initiatives. It’s no wonder that body doubling has been gaining popularity among entrepreneurs.

How it works:

Ether in virtual or in-person setup time to do work while in the presence of others also working. Humans take their cues from others so we are heavily influenced by those around us. Having someone who you can work next to even if it’s virtual has anecdotally been shown to double or increase productivity.

When to use it:

When you feel isolated or alone. Entrepreneurship is unfortunately a quite lonely one for most of us.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Create clear boundaries regarding interruptions during work sessions. Respect each other’s need for concentration—it works both ways.

Define your goals before starting. Clear targets will help you stay focused and minimize distractions.

Last but not least, take regular breaks. Although it may seem counterintuitive, short intervals away from work can boost overall productivity by giving your mind some much-needed refreshment


Postponing things can be a difficult challenge, but it is not unconquerable.

Having identified the underlying causes of procrastination, as well as its potential consequences, you are now ready to tackle your startup ideas.

Now, you’re armed with strategies to fight back: setting milestones, micro-tasking, and body doubling.

You know the importance of rewarding yourself for reaching milestones and tracking your progress along the way. And remember – two heads are often better than one!

The key to stopping procrastinating lies in taking consistent action towards building your startup – from ideation through prototyping to marketing and scaling up your business.

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