Apr 7, 2021
min read

Stopping Procrastination — The Motivation Killer

“I can do it tomorrow.” No! You can’t! Just think about it once.

Why do we do the things we do? This has been a common question that has been on the mind of mankind since the beginning of time. In our mind, it always feels as if our body is working on it’s own, and despite us being in the control seat, we have no control over it. Thankfully, through various developments in modern science and psychology, we are finally able to justify some of our actions. One of the major ones of these is a little nifty little habit mechanic which many have heard of. In fact you might have heard of it too... it’s called procrastination.

We start an assigned task, full of rigor and gusto, completely determined to finish it on time, yet end up leaving the major chunk of the work for the last night before it’s due. Why? How does this happen? And most of all, How can we stop or prevent it? These are some of the questions that we seek to answer in today’s article.

What exactly is it?

The definition of procrastination has changed over the centuries as more and more reasons, methods, ways of procrastinating and methods of combating procrastination have changed. However, the core definition or principle behind procrastination has always stayed the same. To prove it to you that not only more than 95% of us in this modern era, but also our forefathers in the old days suffered from it, let us rediscover their findings and use them as a basis to coin our own. This article doesn’t seek to tell you a presumption and persuade you to go along with it, but instead to help you understand the true meaning of procrastination. Here are two definitions of procrastination: the first one coined by many ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle, and the other, a modern definition, coined quite recently.

Many ancient Greek philosophers coined a term to describe the behaviour of procrastination. They called it “Akrasia”.

Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgement ( a lack of self control). It is when you do one thing even though you know you should be doing something else.

A modern definition for procrastination is : Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks. It is the force that prevents you from following through on the tasks that you had set out to do.

So, by now, you must have realized the fact that Procrastination is universal. It may happen to the best of us, and while some of us know exactly how to stop it, some of us may have no clue how to. Well, worry not. This article will hopefully help you to accomplish all that (and more).

How does a procrastinator’s mind work?

This may be one of the most asked questions out there. It can certainly help us to realize not only why we procrastinate, but also may give us quite a well defined idea on how we can stop this habit. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get right into it! According to Tim Urban, a procrastinator’s mind has three entities : The Rational Decision Maker, The Instant Gratification Monkey and the one and only, Panic monster.

  1. The Rational Decision maker is the one who is mainly required to be in control, so that we are persuaded to complete the tasks that may be unpleasant however, are going to give us a huge advantage in the near future. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
  2. A procrastinator’s mind values Instant Gratification in the present over Long term benefits in the future, which is what the Instant Gratification monkey promises. For example, your new year resolution was to score a 100 in your finals, which are 2 months away. The Rational Decision Maker might suggest for you to hit the books, however the Instant Gratification Monkey isn’t having any of that.
  3. Sadly, for a procrastinator, the Instant Gratification monkey holds more power and well, in the end, its almost always the same outcome. The Instant Gratification Monkey gets the wheel and like the driver controls the vehicle, it controls the mind of the procrastinator. And instead of hitting the books as you had planned, you end up whiling away time on social media, checking to see the number of likes your last post had gotten, thinking of the unasked (and better left unanswered) questions, checking if your message had received any replies or procrastinating on unfinished work by writing an article on procrastination ! (and procrastinating on the article too by the way)
  4. However, there is only one thing that the Instant Gratification monkey is scared of and that is the Panic Monster. This entity is asleep most of the time but whenever a deadline gets too close and the consequences of not completing the work set in are immense, that is when he wakes up. He scares the Instant Gratification Monkey, which allows the Rational Decision Maker to finally regain control and the work to finally get started.
  5. However, the problem that comes in is that the Rational Decision Maker now has less time to complete the work assigned and so has to do it as fast as humanly possible, and sometimes isn’t even able to complete it in time, which may cause those consequences to occur, even though we had set out to avoid them in the first place.

Why is procrastination harmful?

This section literally needs no explanation at all. So, lets just get right into it. The main reasons due to which we procrastinate are:

  1. Incessant stress due to the deadline and the quantity of workload.
  2. Anxiety to complete the workload on time.
  3. A perfectionism mentality, which ultimately results in us not being able to start the work at all.
  4. Not finding the perfect mindset or motivation to start working.
  5. Able to start working, however unable to maintain the momentum.
  6. Laziness.

Now, lets take a look at some of the effects of procrastination.

  1. Incessant stress due to the deadline and the quantity of workload.
  2. Anxiety to complete the workload on time.
  3. A perfectionism mentality, which ultimately results in us not being able to start the work at all.
  4. Not finding the perfect mindset or motivation to start working.
  5. Able to start working, however unable to maintain the momentum.
  6. Laziness.

Can you see a pattern? Yes, they’re the same. Infact, I literally copy pasted what I had written for causes as effects too. And that is exactly why, ladies and gentlemen, that procrastination is so dangerous. Procrastinating may give us a false feeling of satisfaction and some small rewards in the present, however it isn’t a sustainable plan at all. Why, you may ask? Well, lets explore this in the net section aptly named “Types of Procrastinators”.

The 4 types of procrastinators

  1. The firm believer in pressure hamping up his/her productivity
  2. The person who is overworked and tired
  3. The overbooker who starts too many tasks and is too busy to finish them
  4. The New task seeker who starts new tasks, sticks with them eagerly for a week, then get bored of them and starts something new.

Wow! There are so many. But, the main question here is exactly what you’re thinking. How do we stop procrastinating? Well, that is exactly what we shall discuss in the upcoming section.

The two M’s behind stopping procrastination

To understand how to stop procrastination, we first look at the two M’s that actually act as the guardian angels in helping us combat it. Below each M, we shall also look at various methods to help in stopping us from procrastinating.

Note: Any one or a combination of two or more of the methods work satisfactorily well, please don’t procrastinate too much on trying to use all of them at once. Practice makes a person perfect, and practice of literal life changing advice will for sure, take time.


Ever felt at times that you feel more productive and could complete all the tasks you had been set for that particular day (and maybe perhaps even do more)? And sometimes, despite your best efforts, you don’t feel like doing anything and end up spending your entire day in completing tasks of a lesser priority or not working at all. At this point, you may tend to use phrases like “not motivated enough” or “motivation isn’t with me” and so on. But what exactly do these phrases mean? Well, to frankly describe it:

Completing any task, may it be big or small is like pushing a humongous rock up a hill, while reaping it’s benefit is like letting the rock roll down on it’s own.

Makes sense right? Completing the task is hard while reaping the benefits and rewards is like a cakewalk. However, despite us not being able to control the type of tasks we get, the duration they usually take to complete and whether we can delegate or share the total work with a team; what we can control is our motivation. Lets get back to our hill example. By now, you might probably have realized that the key word in this example is hill. Yes, you heard that right. For completing any assigned task successfully, first of all , we need to ensure that there is in fact, a slope. A slope will definitely make it easier to push the rock up

(note: wont make it effortless, but will reduce your effort) and well, for rolling it down, it’s a breeze. This act of making your task into a slope, is the step called “Motivation” and the better is your motivation, the more chances you have to stick with the task till the end. Obviously, the smoother is your slope or organization or splitting of the huge task into minor tasks, the easier it will be for you to follow through. Some methods mentioned in “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy that come under Motivation are:

  1. Write down your goals and objectives before you begin a task to make sure you keep going until you successfully finish it.
  2. Plan on paper, not in your mind. Every minute spent in planning may save upto ten minutes in execution.
  3. The 80/20 rule: 20% of your daily tasks count for 80% of your results. Focus on them first. You can even find your top 3 tasks with the most results or group the tasks in order of priority and focus on those with the highest priority first.
  4. Your most important priorities are the ones with the most serious consequences. Focus on them the most.
  5. Use procrastination to your advantage. Since , the monkey wont let you do everything, help it put off the low value tasks so that you can focus on the important ones. This is called “creative procrastination”.
  6. Prepare absolutely everything you might need to complete your work for the day before you begin so that you don’t have to spend time looking for everything at the last minute.
  7. Look for the solution in every problem, be optimistic and your own cheerleader.
  8. Don’t stop until your goal for the day is complete and stop the distractions that interfere with the completion of tasks.


  1. This “M” needs no introduction. All of us have studied about momentum before in physics, but have you heard of the momentum in productivity? Sounds interesting, right? Let’s trudge right in! Basically, momentum is when you attain the motivation to start working on something, we all have that feeling of slowly descending into a kind of calm, where our mind begins working autonomously to get the work done. This is the pushing the rock, and if we have done our calculations correctly, and built a proper slope, attaining momentum is literally a piece of cake. Some ways to make this upward journey a wee bit easier are:
  2. To take only one rock , or task at a time and concentrate your full attention on it.
  3. Finding your everyday key tasks and maximizing efficiency on them to try and complete them as fast as possible.
  4. Identifying your key weaknesses or constraints in the task, and primarily focusing on alleviating them.
  5. Putting the pressure on yourself to complete the task as fast as you can. These are some of the ways as mentioned in “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy. There are many many more ways, however the important thing to focus on is to only choose and apply the method that works best for you.


Procrastination is a universal problem, but the thing is, we shall all go through it together. And every time you successfully complete a task, treat yourself with your favorite reward just as a way of thanking your inner Instant Gratification Monkey for letting you get through it.